The bizarre row broke almost exactly a month after the routinely confrontational Fury reacted angrily to quotes by Dana White, telling the UFC president that he could “smash him with one punch” after he predicted that his heavyweight champion son would find a potential fight in the octagon tough.
Theo, an amateur boxer (with a temper that seems to be short if footage of him storming off stage at a bodybuilding competition is anything to go by) has emerged as another potential opponent for the man who ended his boxing career seven years after his famous son was born, deriding his claim to be the toughest 54-year-old in the world.
“I don’t believe that,” announced Theo, who shocked hosts by hurling a trophy to the floor after leaving the podium in protest when he learned he had come fourth at the European Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation in his heyday.
“I’m 56 years of age and I believe I’m fitter than you, John. I believe I could beat you in a proper boxing match.”
Theo was a sparring partner, friend and fellow doorman of Lenny McLean, the notorious London unlicensed boxer once known as the unofficial British heavyweight champion for his part in thousands of unverified scraps, offering unanswered challenges to the likes of Muhammed Ali and wrestler Mr. T along the way.
It is unclear whether any previous animosity existed between Fury and Theo, although the Mancunian is likely to have seen his new nemesis in 2000 gangster film Snatch, in which Theo played the character Mad Fist Willy, and a documentary about McLean released four years ago.
Accepting the offer in no uncertain terms on iFL TV and urging Theo to contact his agent, Fury told the Londoner that the arrangement of their set-to “ain’t no problem”, calling himself “the best 50-odd-year-old man in the world” and pointing to his history of fighting “world-class men”.
“I will fight you gypsy style,” thundered the Mancunian, sitting on the edge of a sofa in shorts while clenching his fist.
“You’ve mentioned my name, you’ve gotta fight now. I don’t need training camps, I don’t need time to get fit. I am 24-hour training.”
Pointing his finger and gesticulating, Fury promised: “I’ll fight you anywhere you want in the UK my friend, anywhere at all. And you’ll wish you never mentioned my name.
“I’m all over London with the boxing. Make yourself known, mate, and you can have it there and then, on the spur of the moment.”
Theo intimated that the fight could take place “for a good cause – coronavirus”, but a clearly raring Fury made it unclear whether any fight would create charitable proceeds or follow any rules.
“I’ll fight you gypsy style because fighting’s too hard, mate, to do for free,” he said. “Let’s fight for a few quid. I know the NHS thing, I know all that. God bless them, they’re doing a good job trying to help everyone who’s dying.
“But you’re trying to make a name for yourself from somebody’s famous father. It’ll be the last thing you ever do, mate, because you know them false teeth? I’ll knock them straight through the back of your head, my friend.
“So don’t you worry about that, you’ve got a fight. Good day to you and God bless you as well.”
Although Fury is not in his equally extrovert son’s corner during fights, he has played a prominent part in the Gypsy King’s career, providing a formative influence during Tyson’s early steps into boxing and regularly championing him as one of the greatest fighters of all time.
The rant held echoes of his verbal sparring with Wladimir Klitschko in the build-up to the fight between Fury and the Ukrainian in 2015, when he was a key figure in Fury’s team and taunted Klitschko over his age.
Another former heavyweight titleholder, David Haye, experienced the towering Fury senior’s ire during the promotion of Tyson’s victorious rematch against Deontay Wilder in February, when an argument between the pair featured Fury offering a bet of more than $100,000 on the outcome.
Would-be pundits were quick to offer their views on the match-up as Theo’s challenge racked up more than 85,000 views in 24 hours, with many warning that a fight with Fury would be unwise.
“I’ve sparred world champions as a teenager and I sparred John a long time ago,” claimed one viewer. “He is an excellent boxer and this isn’t bodybuilding.”
Another accused Theo of having “no stamina and no skill”, calling Fury “one of the scariest and toughest men in the world” and among “the most feared streetfighting men in England at one point.”
“This washed up bodybuilder thinks he can go and call out big John,” they added.
Fury was once sentenced to a lengthy jail term for trying to gouge a man’s eye at a car auction in the culmination of a 12-year spat.
“The timing was awful,” he confessed to the Manchester Evening News in 2015, reflecting on his reduced time in prison.
“I’m not blaming anybody but myself – it should never have happened.
“There’s a load of silliness that went on, but I was worried about my son. I thought I let him down, but he has got over that now and I don’t want to go down that road again.”