Ronnie O’Sullivan insists Tyson Fury is a man after his own heart – never ducking a fight against the very best.
The Rocket plays Thailand’s Noppon Saengkham today, chasing a quarter-final place at the UK Championship as he bids for a record-extending eighth title in York.
And O’Sullivan, who turns 46 on the day of the final, is proud he has seen off the cream of the snooker game at the peak of their powers over 30 years.
Six-time world champion O’Sullivan has regularly questioned what he sees as the lack of a level playing field in Formula One given the car differences.
He now hails boxers like ‘Gypsy King’Fury – A person who is determined to take on and beat anyone in the world.
When O’Sullivan started Stephen Hendry was the No1, and since then he has also regularly locked horns with John Higgins, Mark Williams and now Mark Selby, Neil Robertson and Judd Trump.
He said: “I’d like to think I’m in a sport where I’m not ducking people. They’ve played me at the highest level, and I’ve played them at my best.
“It’s one of them sports, a bit like golf and tennis, where you’re forced to play the opponent.
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“Some other sports they don’t test themselves against the best for whatever reason. Listen, I like the fact that I have taken on every challenge in my career.
“There’s a few sports like that, not just Formula One. You can get Fury fighting anyone in boxing, and then there are other fighters refusing to fight certain fighters.
“I like to think I’m a Fury, never ducked anyone, never ducked a challenge, picked myself off the floor and come out fighting even when I’ve not felt like fighting.
“I think that’s the only way you can judge if a sportsman is truly a great or not, if they’ve fought whoever was the greatest at the time in front of them.
“You see a lot of boxers fighting people when they’re past their best or come up with excuses on why the fight can’t happen. You lose respect for them type of people.
“Whereas your Mexicans, your all-time greats, Marvin Haglers, Sugar Ray Leonards, Lennox Lewis, they’re all-time greats because they fought the best when they were at their best.
“For me that’s what makes a great a great.”
Meanwhile Saengkham, 29, insists he is a different player to one that lost 6-2 to O’Sullivan two years ago at the UK.
After a stunning 6-5 victory over Stuart Bingham, after losing a lead of 5-0 and putting in a break for 121 in the decider he said: “Ronnie is a great player, you always learn something.
“But I am a lot more confident than last time when I was too nervous. No one works harder than me on tour, I am doing 10 hours a day, every day. I am a new Noppon.”