Tyson Fury’s trainer Ben Davison has revealed that the heavyweight boxer’s openness about his issues with mental health have drawn thousands of messages to his social media. Davison knows as he took over Fury’s accounts in the last fortnight ahead of the bid from the ‘Gypsy King’ to dethrone Deontay Wilder, the WBC champion, on Saturday in Los Angeles.
Davison told me: “Tyson’s already achieved so much getting his life back on track and getting back in a happy place, it results in the family being in a better place as well. But not only that, I’ve taken over his social media leading up to this fight and it has shocked me that thousands of people – and I mean thousands of people – everyday, message Tyson.”
“He’s not only got his own life back on track, if you could see it with your own eyes, he’s put thousands and thousands of people’s lives back on track by being a spokesperson for mental health. He’s been out there for people to see and he’s probably saved thousands of lives. People he’s never met.”
It begs the question as to whether it has given Fury a sense of a higher purpose. “He doesn’t go out and say this,” added Davison.
“I never even knew he got these thousands of messages until I took over his social media. I took it over so it’s a less of a distraction, so he can focus on his job at hand. That was a shock to me.”
“I’m talking about other top sportspersons as well. They ask him questions and thank him. We’ll never know how many lives he’s saved, now and for a long time coming this will be just from his own journey. He should be very, very proud and he deserves all the praise, backing and support he gets.”
Fury has been on his social media himself a single time in the last month. “He went on it once to send Hughie a message after his fight and that was it,” added Davison.
Now, though, the young trainer has the task of keeping his charge, and friend, focused for the next six days as they prepare for the countdown to battle against the dangerous punching Alabaman.
Has Davison drawn on expertise outside his group? “Of course. I’m always open to learning, discussing and talking. You can’t be a master of all. My job is the boxing job, that’s what I know. Kristian is here for the strength and conditioning. We have a nutritionist David Stasche. I’m always discussing things with people and gathering more data.”
But Fury does appear to have been rejuvenated as a boxer – and as a man. “100 per cent and that’s what it was all about. Tyson didn’t come back to boxing for anything other than he needed it to get his life back on track. And we’re achieved that, so we’ve won.”
So does Davison – who is eagle-eyed around his charge – need to put pressure on his fighter. “I don’t think I’ll need to be on him. I think he’s learned that. Honestly, after the (two comeback) fights I wanted him to have a rest and he was straight back in the gym. Even after the fight he had a day or two days and he was sending me pictures of him in the gym. He enjoys it.”
“It’s almost meditation for him. If you have a look at it, one of the first social media posts I put up with Tyson was, I said, “Routine and consistency” and I put a key next to it. I knew that was what Tyson was missing from his life at the time. If you speak to anyone, the most happy a person is is when they have a routine, structure and consistency.”
What is never lost on Fury, furthermore, Davison explained, is how much the fighter and man being back to full health – and firing again – means to his family. “I’ve got to know him and grown close to him so I know how much it means to them. I want the win for them just as much as I do for Tyson. Like I already said, the fact is sometimes they didn’t believe they could get Tyson back from where he was. And the fact that they’ve got him back as a person means so much.”
But fun is never far away with this group, either. “Of course, it’s a big part of it. Negative energy is no good with Tyson Fury. We all like to have a laugh but we know where to draw the line as well, which is important.”
There are rematch clauses with Wilder, of course, but Fury also plans to fight Anthony Joshua down the line. “It would be a massive fight and a good fight. But Anthony Joshua’s not on our radar at the moment,” Davison told me.
“Obviously there’s three of them at the top and he’s the one left out. Our sole focus is on Deontay Wilder and nothing and nobody else matters until after December 1. There is no focus at all on Joshua right now. He’s made his date in April. He’s obviously not going to box the winner of this, Eddie Hearn has made that clear.”
“So I suppose he’ll box the winner of Whyte-Chisora, which is actually on after this fight even though Eddie said he needs to know before this fight. But either way, he’s on his path and we’re on our path. Nothing else matters other than Deontay Wilder on December 1.”
Is Davison amazed by the popularity of Fury in the USA ?
“It’s not amazed me his popularity, but it’s the amount of it. I’ll tell you what’s amazed me is his popularity compared to everyone else. When they were on the press tour the attention Tyson would get from the public compared to Deontay was crazy. I was on the tour with him. It was good fun.”
“To be honest, Deontay played right into Tyson’s hands because he dictated how the press conferences went. If Tyson was calm and laid back, Deontay was calm and laid back. If Tyson was fired up and rowdy, Deontay was fired up and rowdy. And that’s what the fight will be like. Tyson will be the one to set the tempo and dictate how the fight goes, what distances he spots out and how the fight’s fought. That will be the game changer. When we were out among the public, all the attention was on Tyson.”
“That is what boxing is, who can put their footmark on the fight. Who can dictate…
“If somebody is a short range fighter and I’m a long range fighter, if I can keep the fight at long range then the ball’s in my court, and vice versa. It’s who can stamp their authority and game plan, and Tyson certainly did that at the press conferences.”
From three weeks out, Davison said they have been “brushing up on a few things”.
“He’s very, very fit already so it’s just maintaining him. I’m very keen on not over-training. I think it’s the worse thing a fighter can do. Day by day, I’ll assess him. See how he feels, see how he looks. Know when to push him, know when to pull him. And sometimes I’ll make adjustments in the morning.”
“I might have a plan in my head, but I know Tyson now that when he walks down the stairs I know how he’s feeling. I like to take it day-by-day. Obviously I have an idea of what I want to in each day, but you’ve got to take it day-by-day. You have to see how a fighter feels.”
Perhaps Saturday night cannot come quickly enough. And if Fury pulls off victory, it will be one of the greatest comebacks ever in heavyweight boxing history. “Like I said, we’ve already won,” said Davison.
“We’ve already achieved mission impossible and Tyson should be very, very proud of himself.”