Mike Tyson wants to make it clear he isn’t simply a gun-for-hire.

The heavyweight legend has been helping trainer former UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou for his Oct. 28 showdown against WBC champion Tyson Fury in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Fury’s WBC belt, quizzically, will not be on the line.)

In a recent profile, Tyson insisted on making a distinction between being a trainer and a coach.

Tyson says he is Ngannou’s coach—not his trainer.

Some may call it a matter of semantics, but Tyson believes being a coach implies loyalty, whereas a trainer is simply a hired hand.

“I’m not a trainer. I’m a coach,” Tyson told GQ. “A trainer can be bought by anybody. ‘Train this guy. Hey, train this guy,’

“I’m a coach. I’m loyal to my guy. When he gets beat up, I feel the punches. When he’s hitting, knocking out a motherfucker, I feel the victory applause.”

In the interview, Tyson revealed he has been offering Ngannou the same nuggets of wisdom that were proffered to him decades ago by Tyson’s famed trainer-psychologist, Cus D’Amato, whose orotund maxims have become part of prizefighting lore.

“I learned this from Cus: there’s nothing wrong with being afraid of somebody,” Tyson said. “Just never be intimidated. I explained to [Ngannou]: the fear is his friend.”

While Fury vs. Ngannous has been billed as a box office bonanza, it has been criticized for its relatively low merits as a legitimate prizefight; Ngannou, 37, has never fought in a professional boxing match before. Some sports books have Fury (33-0-1, 24 KOs) as high as a -1250 favorite.  

Should Fury, 35, come out victorious and relatively unscathed in the fight, he is projected to fight WBO, WBA, IBF champion Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship either in December or in January, also in Saudi Arabia.

Sean Nam is the author of Murder on Federal Street: Tyrone Everett, the Black Mafia, and the Last Golden Age of Philadelphia Boxing