By Terence Dooley
Tyson and Hughie Fury hope to rock the Copper Box Arena tonight when the two cousins open their 2014 accounts at London’s newest boxing venue. They meet southpaw banger Joey "Minnesota Ice" Abell, 29-7 (28), and Matthew "Gator" Greer respectively on the Frank-Warren bill — their fights are co-promoted by long-time handler Mick Hennessy — to open what should be a big year for both boxers.
Tyson has put the disappointment of his on/off/on/off fight against David Haye, which wiped out most of 2013, to oneside and has his sights set on a rematch with London’s Dereck “Del Boy” Chisora, who meets Kevin Johnson, 29-4 (14), in the show’s main event. Chisora, 19-4 (13), will strive to become the first man to bowl “The Kingpin” over while Fury is favoured to cane Abell, so a summer meeting between the two Brits looks practically a done deal.
Hughie, 12-0 (7), fights more often than a soccer mum with anger issues and takes a step up in class tonight when facing Greer over six-threes. The 19-year-old is striving to join his cousin in contention and trainer Peter Fury, Hughie’s father and Tyson’s uncle, is carefully guiding the two big men to the top.
Peter caught up with BoxingScene on the eve of the show to discuss all things Fury. “It is massive to get the show back on the road,” he said when discussing Tyson’s first fight since his seventh-round KO of Steve Cunningham last April.
“I think the stoppage will happen. The main thing is to get rid of some ring rust and get some rounds in. Joey will put up a decent contest, but I can’t see him going past six rounds to be honest. It has been hard for Tyson, he’s just kept working and training hard, so he’s just glad to get out there and fight.”
He added: “The venue is a fantastic place. It is ideal for boxing. It is a brand new facility, commutable for London, so we’re very happy with it all. It’s all systems go, we’re all happy.”
The Haye saga was draining for all involved. Haye’s shoulder injury ruled him out for many more months, leaving Fury with no option but to look elsewhere. It prompted Hennessy and Warren to join forces early in 2014 in order to get the 25-year-old on the Copper Box bill, much to Peter’s delight.
“It has been hard work for him, he’s had plenty of down days, but since he’s been back in camp he’s been very good,” he said. “It’s a big show, the fight’s a co-promotion between Frank Warren and Mick Hennessy so it is all good. New avenues opened just as an old door shut.”
Hennessy has a TV deal with Channel 5, but has brought Fury over to BoxNation. The promoter has lost Carl Froch, Darren Barker and John Murray in recent years yet the Furys stayed loyal to him — loyalty is important to Peter.
He said: “Yeah, Mick’s been with us from the start and will be with us until the end. We have a great relationship with Mick — he’s not only a good promoter, he’s a good friend as well. Mick always looked out for our interests. We’ve also got a good deal with Frank, he’s looking out for us as well so it should be a good partnership moving forward.
“Warren’s got experience and so has Mick, what they don’t know about boxing isn’t worth knowing. They’ve got the TV and connections. We are happy with the deal that got brough to the table.”
As for Hughie, Greer has been stopped by the likes of James Toney (L KO 2), Denis Boytsov (L TKO 6) and Deontay Wilder (TKO 2), but he also pops up with the odd win and is a step up for the young prospect. Greer, 16-11 (13), will be a good litmus test for the Mancunian.
“He is, you know, and like Frank said, Hughie is probably one of the leading prospects in the world in heavyweight boxing,” Fury concurred. “It is exciting for all involved to see the young kid’s progress.
“Hughie will have something to think about. Like you said, he has met Toney, Kevin Johnson, took Boystov six rounds, and he only got stopped by the top ten men recently — he has mixed at a good level for years, he’s not some mug. Greer tries to land a few punches as well.
“Hughie’s at the stage now where he needs these fights. He’s heavier now, we kept talking about his age last year, but it is relevant because he was and is maturing all the time. He is getting more physically strong, he’s 100% fit, and I think he’s more than capable of stepping up to this level. Make no mistake, Greer is his toughest test so far.”
Tyson and Chisora almost came to blows at the O2 Arena in May 2011, a few months before Tyson out-pointed the British and Commonwealth titlist. I was at the venue that night, Fury hurled his shirt to the ground and challenged Chisora to a fight. Security stepped in, the whole thing was diffused quickly, but I bumped into Chisora a few minutes later and he seemed distinctly rattled by the whole thing.
At the time, I thought that Fury had earned himself a huge psychological edge over his rival. Come the fight, Chisora weighed a whopping 261lbs — he was 244½lbs when beating Sam Sexton by ninth-round TKO in his previous bout — and, to my mind, this was further evidence that he felt intimidated by Fury — the added weight could be perceived as a ready made excuse for a listless performance and defeat.
Peter, though, shot down my theory in a matter of seconds. “I don’t think it’s true,” he said when asked if Tyson holds the psychological edge in this match-up.
“They’re professionals, Dereck moved on and did well at the world level against Vitali Klitschko, he’s been in with some quite good fighters. Dereck’s up for the fight, he’s in good shape and you have to give Dereck credit where it’s due — he fights anyone. We respect Dereck, he said he’ll fight Tyson and we believe him because he’s a man of his word.
“We’ve always been aware of this rematch. We’ve had criticism, but we haven’t cherry picked anybody. A lot of people get approached, but a lot of people don’t want to fight Tyson, they ask for it then change their minds. Dereck is there, he has stepped up to the plate and is confident that he can do the business, as we are, so let’s just do the fight.”
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