By Terence Dooley
Peter Fury, the trainer of Greater Manchester-based heavyweight contender Tyson Fury, has had a busy couple of days. The former professional fighter guided the former British and Commonwealth champion to a wide decision win over American’s Kevin Johnson in Belfast on Saturday night before heading out to Armenia to see his son, Hughie, compete in the World Youth Championships amateur tournament. Hughie netted a win over Kazakhstan’s Kanagat Akhmedov earlier today to ease into the semifinals, he is guaranteed a bronze medal, which the Fury family can add to the bronze Tyson won in the 2006 World Youth Championships, with the hope of silver or gold still hanging in the air.
The trainer took a timeout from celebrating the successes of recent days to confirm the news of his son’s progress during a telephone conversation with BoxingScene.
“My son has just got out of the ring,” said Fury. “He’s been boxing since he was 11, he’s a Junior ABA winner and we hope he can win gold at these Championships — he’s only two fights away from gold. I’m proud of him, I’m proud of all my lads. I’m with them 24/7 and you get what you put in.”
Fury has certainly put a lot of effort into Tyson during 2012. Peter sat down with his nephew at the turn of this year, Tyson’s last in-ring action had seen him dropped in the second round before winning a mini-war against Neven Pajkic last November. Fury had also admitted to suffering from depression after his father, John Fury, was sent to prison in February 2011. Tyson’s eating, training and fighting habits served to increase these feelings, prompting his uncle to step in to address the flaws shown by Fury during the struggle with Pajkic
“I’m glad Tyson came to me in the end because people were telling him to do this and that,” said Fury. “Tyson’s been with me since January now, we got [Martin] Rogan [TKO 5] out of the way, Vinny Maddalone [TKO 5] in July and Tyson has just beat Johnson [by scores of 119-108 (twice) and 119-110].
“I just got hold of him and said: ‘I wouldn’t normally interfere, but I’m your uncle and you’re doing it all wrong. You’ve got people blowing smoke up your arse, telling you you’re the next world champ, but how are you going to be that when you’re overweight, off balance and open.’ I told him he was getting the wins at domestic level, but now he was stepping up he was at risk of not going anywhere, so I told him to take a reality check or just walk away and quit undefeated.
“My concern was that he was stepping into that ring not 100% fit, and you can get hurt by doing that. If you’re not fit, and you’re not taking it seriously and eating rubbish, then you can get brain damaged, so I told him all that more or less for his health. We’ve had long conversations, he’s had a down time in his life, so I told him he has all the ability in the world — he’s took onboard what I had to say. Tyson’s very happy in himself, he is happy with his eating and body, and we’ve been working on the skills.
“People think it is all about fitness and conditioning for Tyson now, but that’s nothing without the skills, which we work on all the time — he was very disciplined on Saturday. I told him what we’d do, that Johnson was looking for the KO because of what he’d seen of Tyson in the past, so we got him punching in combinations and moving off.
“I told Tyson to plant his feet, put punches together early and wear Johnson down, but then we got into the fourth and fifth, where I told Tyson to back off and just box. I could see that Johnson wasn’t going anywhere, he trained for Tyson to come at him — Johnson was slipping and sliding — and there was more risk if Tyson did that. Johnson has the quickest left hook and jab that I’ve seen. If Tyson would have stood his feet in front of him then Johnson would have thrown a load of punches. Johnson said that is what he wanted to do after the fight, but Tyson nullified his work and didn’t allow him to do what he wanted to do.”
Fury’s climb down in weight began at the turn of the year, by the time he met Rogan he was 245¾lb, from 257lbs versus Pajkic, he hit 245½lbs for Maddalone despite admitting that he went up to 23 stone when depression crept in again following the hospitalisation of his baby boy, who has since recovered. Fury, though, was 248lbs, but more cut than usual, against Johnson. His uncle thinks that this physiological change has altered the contender’s outlook, his performance levels, and that we will see an increase in punch power.
“Look at the Rogan fight to where he is now, in just under three months we got six stones of Tyson,” he said. “I took him in January, we had Rogan, then had Maddalone and took four months out purely to build his strength and condition. Now we’ve got that, Tyson can punch, and Johnson will attest to that. Sparring partners have been knocked out. Malik Scott will tell you about Tyson’s power, he got a busted eardrum from sparring him. There’s no question in his punching ability, but Johnson is an extremely tough guy — I could hear the punches going in from ringside. Johnson’s a real danger man. Johnson said Tyson hits harder than both Klitschkos, he’s sparred Wladimir and fought Vitali, so knows what he’s talking about. Tyson’s a different guy to the past — a lot of people aren’t seeing it. Tyson has had a turnaround.
“To be a world-class operator you’ve got to be around boxing and people who understand boxing. Tyson was being given the wrong advice, was tired after three-rounds and he knew himself that he never felt right. Tyson’s only a kid, he listens to what people say, and that’s his downfall, it led him into a depressive state because he knew his performances wasn’t good, didn’t like the shape of his body and didn’t like being gassed and hanging on for grim life — that is not how a world-class fighter should be.
“Tyson trains very hard now, three times a day: strength in the morning, cardio in the afternoon and boxing in the evening, and he doesn’t get sick of it because it is his life and what he needs to be a champion. In heavyweight boxing, they all want to land big bombs and knock everyone out, but power comes with skill, so what I’m trying to do is give him his skill back to bring boxing and the heavyweight division to how it was in the 1980s and 1990s.”
Wladimir Klitschko is currently planning his next big stadium show. Vitali could leave the boxing arena for the bear pit of Eastern European politics. Fury has revealed that there is a verbal agreement in place between him and the younger Klitschko brother yet he needs to keep busy in the meantime and could make his much-promised American debut early in 2013 to build on the win over Johnson, which was a WBC title eliminator.
“Tyson weighs nearly 18 stone, but I’ve never seen anyone move and throw combinations the way he can,” said Fury. “I’ve not had a chance to assess the fight properly yet, there’ll be things to improve on, but he’s looking at another fight in March, hopefully at Madison Square Garden as they’ll love him there. Americans know their boxing — they had Mike Tyson in the past and know their history. It would be good to give Tyson a debut over there, they’d appreciate it.”
Fury’s recent verbal jabs at David Price piqued the interest of American fans, many of whom have seen both men in action, and his ability to muster up a sound bite will go down well Stateside as long as he backs his talk up. Peter, though, feels that his nephew’s at his best when discussing the history of the sport and his own interest in boxing stretches right back to the days when Jack Broughton and, later, Jem Belcher were making the headlines.
“Well, Tyson’s the world champion in that category, isn’t he?” he said when asked if Tyson will still continue to talk up potential rivalries. “But I’ll tell you what, he’s a historian of the sport. I am myself — I can go back to the 1500 and 1600s when it comes to fighters. I’ve read up on them and the fight trade myself, but there’s nothing that I can tell Tyson that he doesn’t know already. I am into the heavier weight divisions now, but he follows them all the way through to the lowest weights and follows all the divisions in amateur boxing.
“Tyson’s a dedicated fighter, he’s from a line of fighting people, not just on my brother’s side, his mother’s side as well, so he’s from thorough breed stock, he has the passion, and I just can’t wait to him get up there.”
As for Fury’s own history, he dabbled in the pro ranks then pursued other interests, but always kept in close contact with the sport. He said: “As a kid, I did professional boxing, but in my days people were always scrapping on the cobbles. A few years went past, and I took to training to help my family. I started bringing my son on, Tyson is like a son to me as well, and when he wanted to train with me I didn’t want the responsibility at first. I told him: ‘I’ve been in boxing all my life, but have never physically trained a professional and haven’t been tested,’ it was too much of a risk so I recommended other trainers.”
“I did,” he answered when asked if Brendan and Dominic Ingle were chief among them. “Brendan Ingle spends a lot of time with the young kids, I’d trained at their gym and I thought Tyson should go there. Tyson went and had an interview, when he came back I could see in his face that it was going to happen and said: ‘Stay here with me, I’ll train you and look after you’, but I also told him that: ‘Life’s a two-way street, you don’t let me down, do exactly what I tell you and put your life in my hands, because I’m going to put my life into you, I’m going to put my business to one side and put 24/7 into you’. I knew that if he trusted me and his talent then we’d do it because I trust him.
“I have my gym in England, but also have a property in Belgium, and I share a professional gym there. The people over there are very nice to us, it is incredible because we don’t pay for sparring — they have big guys coming every day who can push Tyson. When we’re England, if we want sparring then we have to pay by the day, and pay for hotels and everything else. We get it all for free over there.
“To train a quality fighter, you’ve got to be hands on. I run with Tyson, young Phill [Fury] and my son, and it gives them that confidence because you’re speaking to them all the time, not just telling them to go and hit a bag. I tell my fighters why they’re doing something and the psychological effect that doing it in a fight will have on the opponent.”
Fury’s win over Johnson did not electrify everyone in the crowd, boos rang out and there some called on Fury to pursue the knockout. Between rounds, Peter told his charge to blank the crowd out and stick to his plan, it worked and the 20-0 (14) WBC number three ranked contender did not even go for broke when having a point deducted in the seventh round, he simply upped it briefly then went back to the plan. Chris Arreola and Bermane Stiverne, the WBC’s number one and two ranked fighters, meet in a final eliminator on January 26 for a shot at Vitali. Fury should be next in line.
“He was relaxed, Tyson can do 20 rounds, no problem,” said Peter. “People talk about him not getting the knockout against Johnson, but if Johnson had come at him throwing shots then Tyson would have hit him with a barrage. Tyson’s the future of heavyweight boxing. You don’t need to go 12 rounds throwing looping shots, Tyson threw when he needed to, fought an educated performance, listened in the corner and scored an impressive victory.
“We’d done all our work in the gym, in the corner you just remind them to do the things you’ve worked on. It is all about being calm. Tyson looked into my eyes and saw the confidence that I’ve got in him. I ask him how he feels, if he’s good and what I want him to start to do next.
“I told him not to listen to the crowd, not to listen to anyone but me. Tyson told me he’d do that, and that’s it. I know what the crowd want, they want knockouts, but this is world heavyweight boxing, not a slugfest or a barroom brawl.
“I’m a big fan of Larry Holmes and Muhammad Ali, these people went 12 rounds after 12 rounds, they didn’t go looking for KOs. If Johnson had opened up then you’d have seen the KO, but he’s very underrated and knew the tricks. Tyson told me that Johnson was miles apart from his other opponents — he said he was thinking every second of every round because if he’d have lost concentration then Johnson would have taken him apart. Johnson was looking for that one big counter.
“This is heavyweight boxing, it is okay for guys to have big punches and padded up records — we won’t name names, but you know who I mean — the problem is that when these guys get hit back they get into trouble. Big punchers rely on big shots and they don’t last in this game, it is all about the sweet science, and Tyson’s got all the tools, it is my job to sharpen them up.”
He added: “Tyson’s like my son. I believe in family and look out for my sons, my brother and my family, so Tyson couldn’t get a better corner man than his own family. Tyson was lost, his dad went away, and these things hurt young men. It is like my young son. I left him in boxing gyms and went away to run my business. I came back and I could see he was down, there were tears in his eyes, and he said: ‘I’m not happy with these people, dad’, and that effected me, so I took the time out for him. Since then he’s won titles and is in the World Championships. It is all about what you put into young people, you instill the confidence and get them ready. Obviously it is also about psychological warfare in there so you work on that as well.”
With his nephew’s mind now on the job and his son already among the titles in Armenia, Fury can afford to put his feet up briefly over the festive period ahead of what promises to be a big 2013.
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