Controversial boxer Tyson Fury dated a Manchester mother-of-one during a secret separation with his wife Paris last year. Fury, who was the boxing heavyweight champion of the world, for just 10 days until he was stripped of the title last Tuesday, was on a break from his marriage when he met Baillie Mansell at a bar in Sale in September.

Mansell, 25, told The Sun that 27-year-old Fury was "a better fighter than a lover". She also said: "He was very loving and nothing like you would expect."

Mansell said that Fury acts quite differently in private to his big-mouth public persona. "He was quite shy and didn't have a lot of confidence," she told The Sun. "He thinks he's good but actually he's very plain Jane."

The relationship lasted around two months, before Fury eventually decided to return to his family. The couple expecting their third child together. At one point his wife even got in touch to check details of his story.

Mansell said: "She asked if I slept with him around this time and did I see him at this date. She said he was completely single at that time and wasn't a bad guy. She said, 'We went through a rough patch but want to make it work. You must understand that.'"

Fury, who beat Wladimir Klitschko in Germany two weeks ago to be crowned world champion, lost his title when a rematch contract he signed with his opponent meant he could not fight the International Boxing Federation's mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov.

Fury, a practising Catholic from the Irish Traveller community, and has courted controversy throughout his career over remarks about homosexuality, abortion and gender roles.

At present, he is a candidate for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year, but a petition on to remove him from the running has now attracted more than 136,000 signatures.

Fury is unbeaten in 25 professional bouts, and won the heavyweight crown on points against Klitschko on 28 November. The Ukranian legend had been champion for 11 years, and the pair are set for a rematch on a date to be decided.

"I feel sorry for Paris," Mansell admitted. "It must be hard living with him because he plays a character. I don't recognise him from his outbursts."