Heavyweight storm Tyson Fury is gathering for a second assault on boxing and this time, he’s being steered by a trainer younger than he is.
When Fury, 29, shocked the world more than two years ago by ending Wladimir Klitschko’s decade-long reign as heavyweight champion, the gameplan set out by the underdog’s uncle and trainer Peter Fury drew admiration.
Now, new trainer Ben Davison has a hard act to follow. While there is a steely self-confidence about him, Davison feels fortunate to be training such a big name at such an early stage. However, he is equally quick to highlight his experience.
“My Dad boxed as an amateur and I was involved in boxing since before I could walk,” Davidson told ESPN. “I then boxed as an amateur but then I played football at a decent level for Stevenage.
“I was on and off with boxing and then Billy Joe Saunders asked me to work for him. I had to make a decision and to be honest, I’ve had much more emotional pleasure from training. I’ve found my niche and I’m lucky to have done so.”
Team Fury has always had its detractors, critics and overly-committed haters. They’re already questioning whether Davison will have the authority and guile required to help restore the Lancastrian to the throne — pointing to his corner work as a stand-in for Saunders’ underwhelming defence against Artur Akavov in December 2016.
However, Davison revealed the progression of the arrangement with Fury was natural and stressed the relationship is different in its dynamic to his long-standing friendship with Saunders.
Davison, who earned praise from Saunders for helping him through the points win over Akavov, told ESPN: “With that fight, I was put on the spot two weeks out and I knew where Billy Joe was physically and mentally.
“When you’re flat, it’s about pacing yourself. We saw recently with James DeGale that fighters don’t always come through flat performances. We did and that is all that mattered.
“The thing with me and Tyson is that we get on. First and foremost, I’m trainer, he’s fighter. Everything on top of that is a bonus.
“It’s different with Billy Joe and myself because we’ve been friends for a long time and if I took control full-time, it could damage our friendship and our friendship is what came first. It’s different with Tyson and I because the trainer-fighter relationship came first.
“I’m a very good judge of character and I could see little things that worked for Tyson and little things that don’t work for Tyson. I made the decision to get away for this training camp.
“His brother has come with him and is doing the same training and is on the same diet and that’s given Tyson a boost. Billy Joe has also been working with us and that’s another boost.”
Fury is by far the heavyweight who has polarised opinion most in recent times, his career having been punctuated by controversy outside of the ring. Understandably, his new mentor is backing his man whether the gloves are on or off.
Davison added: “Tyson Fury can do absolutely everything in the ring. He can box front-foot southpaw, back-foot southpaw, stand there and have a fight and he can do all those things as an orthodox fighter too.
“Outside of the ring, the idea people have got about Tyson Fury is 100% unfair. He’s a stand-up man and that’s one of the first things I noticed with him. He says what he believes and he sticks to what he believes. He’s a very good man.
“What the public think of him isn’t the real Tyson Fury. With the time he’s had away from the sport and what he’s gone through in his personal life, it’s given him a different light and he’s there where he wants to be.
“He’s got lineal status, is unbeaten and now he can be who he needs to be. He’s a draw anyway now — he hasn’t got to make things big because he’s already big. He can be himself now and the public will see a different side to him.”
The weight is reportedly falling off the new, reinvigorated Fury. He’s already issuing challenges to WBA Super and IBF champion Anthony Joshua on a daily basis. The whole train appears to be on the right track after two years of frustration.
So as the undefeated heavyweight prepares for a second coming, scrutiny is on the rise. But Davison’s belief in himself, his fighter, and the sum of those two parts is instantly impressive. Throw in the well-educated patronage of two undefeated world champions and you get the feeling his doubters could well end up looking foolish.