The recent news that Tyson Fury and coach Ben Davison have parted ways will have come as a surprise to many in the boxing world. The pair had developed a close bond during Fury’s comeback from depression and addiction compete for heavyweight championships once again, but in December it was revealed that the two would no longer be working together.
Fury wasted no time in appointing Sugarhill Steward, nephew of famous trainer Emmanuel Steward, as his new coach. According to Steward, the decision came from Fury’s desire to have a more technical trainer. “He wants to be very technical,” Steward said.“We will work on his technique. These are the characteristics he was looking for when he called me, and I fit the description.”
It was a surprising decision given that Fury’s crunch showdown with Deontay Wilder was only two months away at the time of the announcement. While the odds on Fury v Wilder still place the Gypsy King as the favorite to win the fight on February 22nd, this slight turbulence in the Fury camp will give confidence to Wilder and those around him.
Steward’s abilities as a coach are undoubted, but it still seems a strange move for Fury to part with the man who played such a vital role in his recovery from mental health difficulties and obesity. With Davison’s help, Fury lost over 100lbs in excess bodyweight ahead of his return to the ring against SeferSeferi in June 2018. Davison even moved into Fury’s home to help with his fitness regime, to ensure that the Gypsy King was 100% committed to his comeback.
In his autobiography Behind the Mask, published only a month before the split, Fury notes how Davison himself had also struggled with depression before the pair started working together, and how this helped to form a bond and understanding between them. In this short excerpt, you can see the positive impact Davison has had on Fury in the last few years:
Ben has understood me. He knows how to get the best out of me in the gym, and he works hard at making sure my media commitments don’t become too much. Sometimes we will start a gym session that he has planned for that day and within five minutes he’ll stop and say that’s enough because he can see that I’m just not in the right place to do what he wants me to do. We’ll just rest and talk.
Ben can read me like a book because he has been there; maybe not to the same extremes, and he didn’t have the public looking in on his problems, but the issues were essentially the same. As Ben says, God doesn’t make mistakes and the timing was right for both of us when we started to work together in 2017.
So what went wrong? It seems odd that Fury would choose to part ways with someone who had such a positive effect on him simply for the sake of bringing in a more technical trainer. It could be that there was more behind the decision than has been reported in the press – whether the pair had a disagreement or whether personal issues arose between them remains unknown.
We may never know the full story, but it has no doubt been an unwanted distraction for the Fury camp ahead of the Wilder fight. It remains to be seen how much the change will affect Fury as he seeks to regain his heavyweight title. He has always been an immensely determined boxer, someone who is able to focus his mind on his opponent and nothing else in the lead-up to a big fight.
The weeks ahead will be a test of Fury’s mettle, perhaps the biggest mental test he has faced since returning to the ring after his battle with depression and drug abuse. But the Gypsy King has never shied away from a challenge, and although he sunk right to the bottom he rose again in the way that all true champions do. Don’t be surprised to see Fury take it all in his stride and deliver a knockout performance on February 22nd.