Updated: Oct 15, 2020
Tyson Fury (27-0-1) defends his notional Lineal heavyweight title on Saturday night against undefeated (24-0-0) German, Tom Schwarz. The fight takes place at the MGM Grand Garden arena in Las Vegas, a location still dubbed as ‘The Fight Capital of the World’ and a stage still synonymous with the residency of pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather. This is Fury’s first fight in ‘Sin City’, his first since signing a reported £80m-five-fight-deal with Top Rank and his first since his controversial December draw against WBC champion, Deontay Wilder.
Whilst Schwarz may fit the marketing requirements as a credible opponent, in reality this is nothing more than a building fight; a fight to elevate Fury’s popularity stateside and to further grow the Wilder rematch before subsequent, future title fights. Schwarz’s athletic physicality make for an easier casual sell – he’s 6’ 5”, 17st and boasts a chiselled jaw and defined abs – yet he has never faced an opponent of anywhere near the calibre of Fury.
This is only his third fight outside of Germany (the other two being in the Czech Republic), with the only opponents likely known to the British audience being Senad Gashi, who recently lost via unanimous decision against Derek Chisora; and Samir Nebo, who was stopped in the first round against Dave Allen.
“When I beat Tyson Fury I am the champion because he is one of the greatest in heavyweight boxing now,” Schwarz said, factually.
Indeed, this is true. This is also a fight where the added intrigue has grown largely due to external factors beyond either fighter’s or promoter’s control.
Anthony Joshua’s recent shock-seven-round-defeat to Andy Ruiz Jr reawakened complacent fans, bookies, promoters and investors alike to the unpredictable nature of heavyweight boxing, granting publicists, salesmen and fantasists license to suggest the same risk of an upset also applies here; whilst also re-elevating Fury to the vaunted number one position in Ring magazine’s heavyweight rankings.
Like the rest of us, Fury has witnessed the public fallout endured by Joshua since that defeat. Moreover, he has had active participation in framing the damning nature of that loss; initially supporting Joshua to ‘rest, recover and come again,’ before latterly questioning his desire, accusing him of ‘swallowing’ and ultimately concluding him as ‘finished’.
“All it takes is one or two punches. That is all it takes. If you are 12 rounds ahead and get knocked out it’s pointless. So, I am not convinced it’s easy. Any man who is unbeaten and his full like changes with a win, I don’t that as an easy fight,” Fury answered, when questioned as to his own potential complacency, the perceived ease of this fight and the likelihood of a similar upset.
Yet, any perceived concerns around focus and concentration notwithstanding, Fury has dominated the promotional build-up; riffed, serenaded and entranced a receptive media with the larger-than-life persona that has promoter Bob Arum framing him as the ‘major, major star’ who will ‘lead boxing into a new dimension’. The only thing left for him to do now is to provide the expected domination over Tom Schwarz on Saturday night.