Ask any professional boxer to name the toughest part of their profession, and they’ll tell you training camp stands out above everything else. It’s often tougher than a gruelling 12-rounder, and it’s often tougher than taking a beating on fight night. Training camp can last for months, and it only ever gets harder.
In camp right now we’ve got Tyson Fury, Hughie Fury and young Dempsey Fury, who is having his first fight with us (also on February 28). Training is intense at the moment, and we’re looking forward to starting sparring next Monday. That’s when full sparring will begin for three weeks.
Everything is going well, and they’re all in good spirits and looking fit and healthy. All three kids can’t wait to get into the ring and get away from training camp. This is the hard part right here. Training camp is so intense, so difficult and so mundane; they can’t wait to get into that ring and take it out on the opponents.
Still, we rotate things to keep it fresh. For example, last Monday we ran up a steep hill in long grass and snow, and this Monday we ran up a steep hill on tarmac.
The boxers will do some intense cardio in the mornings, which could be the short sprint work to build up power, and in the afternoon they’ll do some weights and power exercises. Then, in the evening, they’ll do two hours of boxing, which involves skipping, sparring, bag work and pad work.
On a Tuesday, they’ll do some more cardio work, maybe a sprint around the track or some circuits, and we’ll even throw in some light weights with the circuit. On the days they don’t spar, I’ll take them on the pads and do some technical work with them.
All in all, they train three times a day on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then on Thursday and Friday they train two times a day. They train twice a day on Thursday because they do a heavy circuit and pads, and they train twice a day on a Friday because they spar in the morning and do a heavy leg session in the afternoon.
On Saturday, Tyson will go for a long run and Hughie will go for a swim. They then rest up until Monday. Then we go through it all over again…
For now, Hughie and Tyson have been doing a lot of body sparring just to sharpen up. But soon we’ll bring in sparring partners from all over the world to give them something different. This allows Tyson and Hughie to both let loose a bit and spar full-on.
They all drive each other on in camp. Tyson, Hughie and Dempsey are a family unit and they have that tight bond and competitiveness about them. They have a different bond to what they’d have with anybody else. They’re all being pushed and all doing it together. Time and time again people come into our gym and don’t last. They come with the best intentions in the world but fall by the wayside. They can’t stick with it. These three, though, maybe because of the family bond, seem to just grind it out when the going gets tough.
From my perspective, balancing so many fighters is something you have to get used to. I’m used to it now. So long as I’m happy with the attention I’m giving them, that’s all that matters. I know I don’t cut corners and know I’m happy with the attention I give each of them. I’m able to look at each of them, identify what they need to work on and then go about rectifying any problems.
I’m pleased with what I’m seeing from all three of them. Tyson is a super athlete, and everybody is trying to keep up with him, but Hughie is doing a lot better in this camp. He’s had a three-week head-start on the rest of them, so he’s ahead right now in the fitness stakes, but Tyson is catching up very fast.
The reason Tyson is playing catch-up is because he beat Dereck Chisora at the end of November and then took December off. As you can imagine, it’s often difficult for a fighter to take Christmas off, enjoy some family time and then get back to the gym. It’s hard getting back into training at a heavy pace. Tyson is no different. He’s got the weight to lose as well. But he’s doing okay with it, to be fair. He’s cracking on, he’s training hard, and the weight is coming off the way it should do.
I think he can motivate himself at this point. He’s experienced enough and good enough to know what he has to do to fulfil his potential and achieve his goals. As a trainer, you don’t just physically prepare these guys; you also have to work on the mental side of things. You have to motivate them and psyche them up. There are a lot of things involved. You play a vital part because you’re with them 24 hours a day. All you ask is that a fighter has the capability to listen and that they believe in the things you are telling them.
As for Hughie, I’m pleased to report he’s been responding very well to training. We found out the reason for his illness last year, and it happened to be an intolerance to certain foods. We’ve cut them out, and he’s now responding magnificently. How he boxed with all the problems he had is beyond me; everything he was intolerant to was stuff he was eating during the first year of his pro career. It was making him literally sick. This kid has been fighting and spewing his guts up every time.
It’s a relief to have him back in the gym at full health and to not have him feeling ill and drained all the time. He’s probably only ever been at 40%, so we’re looking for a big improvement this year providing his health continues along the right path.
Finally, congratulations to Deontay Wilder on becoming WBC world heavyweight champion. He defeated Bermane Stiverne a couple of weekends back and became the first American to win a version of the world heavyweight title since 2006.
The result was never really in doubt. Stiverne came in out of shape, and that surprised me; as WBC champion, I didn’t expect him to come in looking as out of shape as he did. I was a bit disappointed with that.
I’m not going to take anything away from Wilder’s performance, however. I think he did okay and did what he had to do. He boxed similarly to how Tyson boxed against Dereck Chisora. He used the same tactics. He realised Stiverne is bad on the front foot and made him come forward. He put Stiverne in an uncomfortable position, and that’s the way a tall fighter should box a small fighter. He used the right tactics and boxed the right fight.
I’m happy for Wilder and happy he got the win. He beat a good fella in Stiverne and looked good doing it. No, Stiverne wasn’t at his best, but, even if he had been, the result might not have been any different. This is what you get when a tall fighter boxes a short fighter and the tall fighter knows how to use his range. It’s why we’ve seen Wladimir Klitschko reign for so long at the top of the heavyweight division.
The giant heavyweights of this era have to know how to make the most of their attributes. That’s what Tyson and Hughie are telling themselves on a daily basis…