During Tyson Fury’s open workouts on Tuesday, the ‘Gypsy King’ was his usual flamboyant self in front of the world’s media.
Although Saturday’s opponent Otto Wallin is not expected to offer too much in the way of resistance, the former unified world heavyweight champion looked in sensational shape as he displayed his frightening combination of speed and power, not befitting a man standing at 6ft 9ins.
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And Fury was at his typically silver-tongued best, even calling his Swedish opponent ‘just my type – blonde and sexy’.
But fans who have followed the 31-year-old’s journey know there is a darker undertone to Fury’s happy and positive exterior.
The lineal heavyweight champion finds solace in training and playing the role of entertainer to stave off the miserable thoughts which so terribly clouded him.
In 2016, after beating the odds to dethrone Wladimir Klitschko, Fury sank deeper and deeper into a state of depression which led him to consider taking his own life.
His battle back to happiness centred on his return to the ring, starting with losing weight. In total, Fury had ballooned to 400lbs at his heaviest and was in desperate need of help.
Close friend Billy Joe Saunders introduced him to Ben Davison, with the 26-year-old assuming the mantle of trainer, psychologist and most importantly of all; a friend.
Strength and conditioning coach Kristian Blacklock revealed how, for the first time in four years of knowing Tyson, he has a lean and athletic Fury to work with from the start of camp.
“I don’t think he has ever been fully loaded because he has always, always had to lose weight and he was way overweight before the Klitschko camp,” Blacklock told the BBC.
“This time he can do anything: explosive jumps, athletic movements, no limitations. He can do things I do with a top middleweight.
“He backed himself at 60% against [Deontay] Wilder. He may not be 100% now – I don’t think a fighter ever is – but he is getting near that figure.”
Fury took the fight against fearsome puncher Deontay Wilder for December of last year and was controversially awarded a draw in Los Angeles.
The ‘Gypsy King’ had to lose 10 stone in preparation for the fight and no-one – from his own father to those in his team – felt he was truly prepared for the fight.
But it is testament to how far Fury has come both mentally and physically since that night in Dusseldorf in 2015 when he shocked the world. Despite the controversial decision, Fury remained calm in the ring and even sang ‘American Pie’ with the world’s media alongside 87-year-old Bob Arum.
And after a short break to return to his family for Christmas, Fury was back in the gym and preparing for a hectic 2019.
“He is a routine man,” Blacklock added. “So training benefits him mentally too.
“Working on the Klitschko fight I asked him ‘what are you going to do when you win the world title?’ I thought he’d maybe say ‘have a big holiday’.
“He turned to me and said ‘I will be depressed’. I laughed it off, but he was like ‘no, it will be an anti-climax, I will be depressed’. In hindsight, he was suffering then and it got worse.”
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Promoter Frank Warren signed a co-promotional deal with EPSN and Top Rank which guaranteed the switch-hitter a deal worth $80million.
As part of the deal, a rematch for the WBC heavyweight title beckons and the chance to prove the critics once again.
Fury revealed to talkSPORT he is due to challenge Wilder again in February 2020 and Warren said: “He will be in much better shape than he was the first time around.
“That time he was basically training to make weight rather than training for the fight.
“Anything can happen though; we saw what happened with Anthony Joshua against Andy Ruiz.
“Even when Tyson fought Wladimir Klitschko, he was a big underdog in that fight, so anything can happen with these big guys. He cannot take his eye off the ball at all. Tyson is doing what he needs to do and that is stay busy.
“He needs to stay active so he doesn’t put weight on; mentally he needs to be on the money too.
“He is going to be more dangerous than ever.
“This is Tyson Fury with 18 months behind him in the gym rather than a six-month crash course.”