Tyson Fury has enjoyed an incredible rise back to the top table of sporting superiority, something that was truly unimaginable just a few years ago.
Back in 2017, the Gypsy King was banned from the sport he adores for testing positive for a banned substance while struggling with mental health problems – and his career appeared in tatters.
But Fury has since risen from the canvas, and etched his name into boxing history after putting in a performance for the ages against Deontay Wilder in February earlier this year.
Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury was named as the 11th highest paid athlete by Forbes
Fury has enjoyed a remarkable renaissance after beating Deontay Wilder (right) in February
In Las Vegas, Fury pulled off the greatest victory for any English boxer abroad as he stopped America’s knockout king Wilder in the seventh round with an utterly dominant, devastating performance. That was on the back of their first fight, which, although was called officially as a draw, most observers had the Brit as the victor.
Fury arrived to the ring carried on a golden throne, and that’s exactly how he left it – he had once again become king of the heavyweight division alongside fellow Brit, Anthony Joshua.
The British stars, who currently own all of the heavyweight belts between them, are expected to battle it out in the near future to become an undisputed champion.
But while the talk of the town about heavyweight domination is temporarily put on hold because of coronavirus, they have been battling it out in sport’s global financial charts instead.
On Friday, it was revealed that Fury was ranked 11th in Forbes’ Highest Paid Athletes list of 2020 thanks to his remarkable renaissance, while Joshua was eight further back in 19th spot.
The release of Forbes’ data has highlighted just how incredible Fury’s story has been over the last couple of years.
But just how has Fury catapulted himself to super stardom once again following a long-lasting battle with depression?
Fury sits above British heavyweight rival Anthony Joshua in Forbes’ highest paid athletes list
Joshua was shocked by Andy Ruiz Jr (right) after suffering defeat in New York in June last year
After defeating Vladimir Klitchsko and rising to the very top of the boxing world in 2015, Fury went down the route of heavy drinking and drug use and subsequently put on a huge amount of weight.
The 31-year-old went up to a staggering 28 stone during his 32-month absence away from the ring.
But while Fury continued to battle with depression and was out the equation, Joshua was continuing to make waves in the heavyweight division and he quickly emerged as the one to stop. However, Fury has since inspired many to acknowledge that anything is possible and is once again ensuring that his boxing is stealing the headlines.
The Gypsy King – who has never lost in 31 professional fights – emerged as boxing’s top-paid star over the last 12 months, earning an incredible £46million while Joshua amassed £38m.
This is incredible when you take into account that Fury didn’t even make the top 100 last year while Joshua ranked 14th with £44m to his name. Quite some turnaround.
In fact, Fury hasn’t ever been in the top 100. Joshua, meanwhile, was 25th in 2018 (£31m) and 89th in 2017 (£18m) while both were outside the top 100 in 2016. So it has been a steady rise up the ranks for Joshua but one hell of an ascent for Fury.
Out of the WBC heavyweight champion’s £46m over the last 12 months – £6m of that came from endorsements.
Fury has risen to the top of heavyweight division once again after his mental health struggles
Fury, pictured in 2017 with Ricky Hatton, has completed an incredible journey back to the top
Whereas for IBF, IBO, WBA, WBO heavyweight holder Joshua, £9m came from sponsorships.
Meanwhile, Wilder sat 20th in Forbes’ list, earning £37.6m overall while UFC star Conor McGregor was 16th with £38.8m, ensuring Fury topped the charts as the highest paid combat star.
And his rematch against America’s No 1 heavyweight Wilder in the United States has gone a long way to ensuring this is the case. Fury earned an eye-watering £21m from that fight alone, pushing his 12-month earnings in the ring to £40m.
Prior to that crunch rematch, with the eyes of the boxing world watching, he also fought twice in America against Germany’s Tom Schwarz (June 15, 2019) and Sweden’s Otto Wallin (September 14, 2019).
Fury reigned supreme in both fights as he kept up his journey on the comeback trail, and as always with fights in the US, it attracts the big bucks. During that time, Joshua fought just twice, both against Andy Ruiz Jr, with the first encounter knocking him back hugely.
He was shocked by the Mexican heavyweight originally at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden in June last year on his US debut but avenged the loss just six months later in Saudi Arabia – where he pocketed £28m.
So on the fighting front, Fury enjoyed a more lucrative return but when it comes to endorsements, it is Joshua who is the marketing juggernaut.
British boxer Fury (right) made his WWE debut against Braun Strowman in October last year
Fury enjoyed a successful debut inside the wrestling ring, beating Strowman by countout
The 30-year-old, who has 11.3 million followers compared to Fury’s 3.7m on Instagram, has big-money sponsorship deals with the likes of Under Armour, Jaguar Land Rover, Beats, Sky Sports and Hugo Boss.
However, Fury has more than made up for this with some big-money deals of his own – but less on the sponsorship front. The Gypsy King signed a staggering £80m deal with Top Rank in February last year, which has rocketed his earnings.
He has two fights left on his current £80m deal – expected to be against Wilder and then Joshua in the heavyweight showdown everyone wants to see – but he is now eyeing the biggest fight contract in the history of the sport.
‘I’m coming to the end of my contract with Top Rank,’ Fury said recently during an Instagram Live interview. ‘I have two more fights left with those guys. I want to renew it. I don’t want to just walk away after two more fights.
‘I’m 31 years old. Like [boxing manager and advisor] Billy Keane said, the man who helped with this deal with ESPN and Top Rank, “you better get out the dumpster truck and reverse it back into Tyson Fury’s bank account, because that’s what he’s going to need”.
‘I want to get that big, major fight deal. I want to break all of the records, for a British fighter to go overseas and get the biggest signing record in history. I know that with MTK Global, Top Rank and Frank Warren, and all of the guys who help in between, I know we can make that happen.
Fury (pictured making his entrance ahead of his WWE debut) put on a show in Saudi Arabia
‘I know that we can break history with the biggest fight contract in the history of boxing — bigger than Floyd Mayweather, bigger than Canelo Alvarez, bigger than Mike Tyson, bigger than everybody. I think it’s very possible, and I always aim high with my achievements. That’s my next aim.
‘After I wipe out the two dossers in Wilder and Joshua, then the world is my oyster. I want to see that big contract come from ESPN, or whoever is out there, battling to get The Gypsy King on their station.’
But while he has been raking it in via his Top Rank contract, the Manchester-born boxer has ventures in life outside of the ring that has brought plenty of cash in of late.
The Brit recently landed a multi-million pound payday – rumoured to be £12m – for an appearance at WWE’s Crown Jewel event in Saudi Arabia in October last year.
Fury certainly lived up to his reputation as a showman during his special appearance, beating Braun Strowman by countout after landing one of his famous right hands.
And while many may think it was set to be a one-off, that wasn’t the case. In April, Fury accepted a challenge from WWE star Drew McIntyre after the latter beat Brock Lesnar to become the first British WWE champion at Wrestlemania 36.
Fury has been a man in demand recently and his exploiting every opportunity to become one of sport’s global icons.
The 31-year-old’s autobiography, ‘Behind The Mask,’ sold more than 200,000 copies
Out of the ring, his renaissance continues to captivate everyone – not just boxing fans.
From the depths of depression to getting back on his feet again and defying the odds, Fury’s rollercoaster journey has provided huge inspiration to many around the world.
In November 2019, Fury published his autobiography – ‘Behind The Mask’ – which sold more than an astonishing 200,000 copies.
The autobiography takes a candid look at his road to redemption, speaking openly about his struggles with mental health – offering a unique insight into the man outside the ring.
And with huge plans going forward, which have been brought to a halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, Fury’s stock is only going to rise.
With a trilogy fight against Wilder to come, which is most likely to take place in the US or the Middle East – while AJ gets ready to face Kubrat Pulev before an all-Brit showdown – and the potential for further WWE appearances, it may not be long until Fury breaks his way into the top 10 of Forbes’ highest paid athletes list.