Tussles broke out between the Hughie Fury and Joseph Parker camps at a dramatic weigh-in today after the Englishman pushed Parker in the chest following an unnecessarily prolonged traditional stare-down.
The two heavyweights mouthed insults at each other for nearly two minutes before Fury, egged on by his cousin Tyson in the audience, pushed New Zealander Parker backwards.
"Nut him, Hughie," Tyson Fury had said seconds earlier. The push led to members of both camps grappling with each other off the stage. Taylor Barry, trainer Kevin Barry's son, grabbed Hughie Fury's left arm which led to some of Fury's family members rushing in and Parker's younger brother John then entered the fray before a heavy security presence finally intervened.
It was an ugly ending to an event at the National Football Museum which should be been organised far better, and the controversial Tyson Fury played his own part in the shambolic affair. "Whoever looks away first is gay," Tyson shouted as the two heavyweights faced off.
"Rip the belt off him, Hughie," someone else said.
Neither fighter was going to back down, and while two security guards on stage made moves to separate the pair, they soon gave up. At that stage one of the many officials near by should have taken charge and eased the tension.
Parker, who will take a big weight advantage into the fight for the WBO world title at the Manchester Arena tomorrow, appeared relaxed during the commotion and laughed about it afterwards. But he also accused Hughie Fury of being disrespectful for the push.
The flashpoint to the incident might have been one of Parker's put-downs to the Englishman.
"He was saying 'this is my time' and he was the champion or whatever," Kiwi Parker said at his central Manchester hotel afterwards. "I just said 'relax, little boy, relax', and I said it real calm. I said 'I'll test your chin out, you're going to tested tomorrow, just relax for now'.
There is talk among boxing circles in the United Kingdom that Fury, 23, has a suspect chin.
Once the dust settled, Parker's mother, Sala, shouted towards the stage: "Behave yourself and prove it in the ring."
Parker, who tipped the scales at 112kg, 10kg heavier than his opponent, said in an interview before tucking into a chicken and vegetable lunch: "It was quite tame compared with other weigh-ins that I've seen. I think I got under his skin. I feel he needed to react to give himself confidence. He's been talking up a big game and he needed to do something physical outside the ring. I choose to do my fighting inside the ring. Maybe that's the last time he'll touch me."
Parker, 25, thought he would weigh in at about 110kg or perhaps 111kg. This is his heaviest he has been before a fight. Asked about the condition of Hughie Fury, who is taller than Parker but doesn't appear to have the same power, he said: "I didn't really look at his body, to be honest. He's got a beer gut.
"He can move as much as he can and try to avoid the punches but I know when I catch up to him I'll punish him.
"He's fighting in his home town, he might want to put on a big show for everyone, but it's pressure. There's pressure of fighting in front of your cousin when there are doubts in your head - 'imagine if I get knocked out in front of everyone'. It all plays a big part.
"I didn't want to waste my energy on getting angry or upset."
There was also a scuffle after the weigh-in of an undercard fight. Shayne Singleton, a super welterweight from Lancashire, pushed Irishman Peter McDonagh and while the pair were separated, Singleton had to be virtually carried away by security such was his desire to force the issue. In a comical finish, McDonagh grabbed a bottle of Guinness from one of his entourage and drank from it.
Parker v Fury at Manchester Arena will be shown in New Zealand live on Sky Arena from 8am on Sunday for $39.95.`