SAN DIEGO, Calif., June 14, 2019 – When boxing fans last saw British heavyweight Tyson Fury, he was doing his best impression of Lazarus rising from the dead at the Staples Center in Los Angeles after being hit by WBC champion Deontay Wilder in their title fight last December.
Fury’s show of sheer will earned him a draw and a certain rematch with Wilder, along with respect for traveling a long road back to good health. Just a few years before, after capturing the lineal heavyweight title with a decision win over Wladimir Klitschko, Fury fell into a downward spiral of health problems. He gained more than 100 pounds, and fought off mental illness. Fury’s performance against Wilder capped off an amazing recovery.
Tyson Fury now large and in charge of the division
“It’s no secret what I’ve been though,” said Fury, “It’s proof anyone with the right help and the right guidance can turn their life around. I wasn’t just fighting for myself. I was representing everyone who suffers around the world. I had to get up. I had to show people anything is possible.,” said Fury. “I rise to the occasion.”
Now Fury stands as a key player in the division, especially after his countryman Anthony Joshua’s shocking loss to American Andy Ruiz, Jr. The ‘Gypsy King’ has a new promoter, Top Rank, and a new network, ESPN. His first fight under the new banner takes place Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) faces unbeaten German heavyweight Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs). No titles at stake, but the future of the heavyweight division for Fury and fellow top tier heavyweights turn on the outcome.
Fury weighed in six and a half pounds heavier than he did against Wilder six months ago at 263 pounds. Schwarz weighed in at 245.5 pounds. Fury says he wanted to gain a little power to better balance his speed. The weight hasn’t slowed down Fury’s motormouth.
“I’m going to spank him on Saturday night, and I’m going to spank Ruiz next,” proclaimed Fury.
It’s easy to be dismissive about this matchup. The little known Schwarz appears to be a paper tiger with wins against limited opposition. He has been a low-key presence in the promotion leading up to the fight, but who wouldn’t look low-key next to the whirling dervish called Tyson Fury? From leading boxing media in sing alongs of “American Pie” to joking with promoter Bob Arum about staying out all night in Las Vegas, Fury fills up a room like he fills up a ring.
Tom Schwarz: ‘I was born for boxing’
Schwarz’s thin resume doesn’t matter to Fury. “”When you’re getting paid as much as I am, which Bob (Arum) will tell you, motivation is easy. This is going to be epic! This is the Tyson Fury show!” Fury also acknowledges the new perspective provided by the seemingly improbable win of Ruiz Jr.
“Not that I expect it, even though I know Schwarz will feel he can be inspired by what Andy Ruiz did to Joshua. No, I was born to fight. And I love it. Now I love to train, too. And to keep doing that will keep me happy. And don’t forget, nearly all those greats lost at some point,” said Fury.
It hasn’t diminished Fury’s confidence one bit. Asked if he prepared by studying his opponent, Fury said, “Do you think I look at videos of boxers? Please. I’ll figure it out during the fight. Within five seconds I’ll know what to do.”
Schwarz says he was “born for boxing,” and said he would be a “big surprise” just like German heavyweight champion and national hero Max Schemling was 83 years ago when he knocked out American star Joe Louis in 1936. Louis won their rematch, and the pair remained friends until Louis’s death in 1981. When asked to name his favorite fighter, Schwarz improbably named MMA star Conor McGregor.
Fury needs to impress, not merely win
Like Ruiz Jr., Fury is fleet footed and nimble in the ring for a man his size. He is all about angles and misdirection, frustrating his opponents into taking chances and making a mistake. Schwarz has solid basic boxing skills, but the current state of the heavyweight division demands more. Fury’s twitchy head and upper body feints should easily disarm Schwarz just as they did Wilder. If Schwarz gets to the point where he looks for one big punch to end the fight, Fury can rack up round after round with jabs and smart combinations.
Schwarz is no Andy Ruiz, Jr. The only unscripted part of this fight left to be written is how Fury delivers the win. Will it be a tactical, frustrating fight? Or will Fury put on a crazy show that looks like an audition for the Blue Man Group?
Fury needs to impress, not just win. He also needs to entertain. Let’s find out which gets priority on Saturday.
Undercard fights: Hart vs Barrera, Mayer vs Crespo
The evening’s main card starts at 10 p.m. ET / 7 p.m. PT with a light heavyweight bout between former world title challengers Jesse Hart of Philadelphia (25-2, 21 KOs) and Sullivan Barrera of Florida via Cuba (22-2, 14 KOs).
Hart is moving up from super middleweight to take on the tough Barrera, whose only losses are to Andre Ward and Dmitry Bivol. Hart is coming off a narrow decision loss at super middleweight to Gilberto Ramirez last December. Barrera defeated Seanie Monaghan in a 10-round decision last November. Nevertheless, the 29-year-old Hart will present a serious challenge to the 37-year-old Barrera. Hart has good power and is highly motivated to prove himself, saying he wants a shot at WBC champion Alex Gvozdyk. Quite a tall order, but you have to admire Hart’s ambition.
Super featherweight Mikaela Mayer of the U.S. (10-0, 4 KOs) faces Lizbeth Crespo of Argentina (13-4, 3 KOs) in a 10 round contest. It’s a stay busy fight providing exposure for the former Olympian and rising star of women’s boxing. Mayer fights with aggression backed up by solid boxing fundamentals. Mayer’s exciting offensive style put her among names like Katie Taylor, Claressa Shields, and Seniesa Estrada bringing more fans to women’s professional boxing.
The full seven fight undercard will be aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes starting at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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