Saturday night’s clash with Tom Schwarz may seem like a routine fight for Tyson Fury, but the ‘Gypsy King’ will most certainly be on his guard.
Of course, Andy Ruiz Jr’s upset win over Anthony Joshua will act as perfect motivation for the Brit in Las Vegas.
But Fury’s need to win is fuelled by something far greater than the fear of an embarrassing defeat. He simply has come too far to lose to the German underdog.
Almost a year ago to the day, Fury stepped over the ring ropes for the first time since his fight against Wladimir Klitschko and made his comeback to a sport which threatened to derail him completely.
After toppling the Ukrainian in Dusseldorf back in 2015, the Manchester-native succumbed to a deep depression fuelled by drugs and alcohol.
Suicidal thoughts plagued his mind and he blindly began to eat himself to death – ballooning to nearly 400 pounds.
Although he was mocked for consistently calling out fighters, the ‘Gypsy King’ was slowly shedding stone after stone.
Linking up with Ben Davison and Frank Warren proved to be the catalyst for the former unified world champion, who became a regular feature in Ricky Hatton’s gym.
A year on from his comeback fight, talkSPORT.com has taken a look back at Fury’s incredible year.
From fighting Albania’s second best cruiserweight, to signing an $80million deal with ESPN and Top Rank, the silver-tongued switch-hitter is back to reclaim the throne.
So how on earth did he manage it?
Sefer Seferi comeback
On May 20 last year, Frank Warren confirmed Fury would fight little-known Seferi in Manchester in his first fight since beating Klitschko in Germany.
The former Ring Magazine, IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight champion had his license reinstated after accepting a backdated two-year ban for ‘anti-doping and medical issues’ and was expected to come through the bout against the much smaller man unscathed.
After 32 months away, the ring rust was evident for Fury as he towered over the career cruiserweight and battered him. Seferi’s corner pulled him out at the end of the fourth, but the showboating in the ring was only overshadowed by the fighting outside of it.
“I’ll be better next time. I’ll have more rounds and fight a better opponent,” said Fury.
“I learned two and a half years is a long time to be out. I’ll take my career very seriously this time and enjoy every moment.”
Francesco Pianeta and Wilder rumours
Fury remained true to his word as a fight against two-time world title challenger Francesco Pianeta in Belfast was up next.
The Italian had lost world championship challenges against Wladimir Klitschko and Ruslan Chagaev and was seen as a step up in opposition.
“The Seferi fight is history and Pianeta is a far better operator than him,” said promoter Frank Warren. “His level of opposition tells you that.”
As the ‘Gypsy King’ began to shed more and more stones closer to the fight, he teased on his Instagram page a fight with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, in America no less.
Rumours soon began to intensify and, with the Bronze Bomber in attendance at Windsor Park, Fury took to the ring knowing victory would all but certainly secure a title fight with the WBC champion.
For 12 rounds, the Brit outboxed Pianeta and won every round as he looked to build up invaluable minutes in the ring.
As the post-fight interviews were being conducted, Wilder stepped into the ring and confirmed the fight was signed for the winter in America, with Fury owing to knock out the hard-hitting Alabama native.
But, of course, no one gave him even a chance of seeing the final bell against a man who had 39 knockouts from 40 wins.
Further weight loss
Before facing a man who had knocked out every opponent who had ever dared to set foot in the ring with him, Fury knew he had to show drastic improvements in and out of the ring.
Speaking on the Joe Rogan podcast, Fury revealed that his amazing weight loss was down to the ‘dirty keto’ diet.
Basically, it enabled him to follow the regular keto diets low-carb concept, but didn’t care whether he was eating healthy proteins and fats or foods that have always been thought of as unhealthy, like cheese, bacon, burgers and other high-fat and high-cholesterol foods.
And fans were left stunned by the transformation.
Deontay Wilder fight – blitzing the bomber
Despite all the pre-fight criticisms and doubters, Wilder and Fury finally squared off at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and fans were treated to an early Christmas cracker.
With referee Jack Reiss dwarfed by the two giants in the opposite corners, there was surreal sensation surrounding the fight. Fury, a heavy underdog in the eyes of bookmakers and pundits alike, boxed beautifully for 12 rounds.
But the power of his American foe proved too much and he was knocked down twice, with his heaviest fall coming in the 12th and final round.
As we have come to learn with Fury though, there is very little this man cannot do and, somehow he clambered off the canvas with two and a half minutes remaining.
Mental Health Advocate
For a fight which many feared would never even happen, Wilder vs Fury delivered in a huge way.
The Brit was suddenly an overnight sensation in America and had earned plenty of admirers in and out of the boxing ring.
His post-fight interview with BT Sports captured the imagination and his touching words to the millions suffering with mental health issues around the world became legendary.
He said in the dressing room: “It’s an iconic comeback, isn’t it? Two and a half years out of the ring, 10 stone ballooned, mental health problems. I just showed the world tonight, and everyone else suffering from mental health [problems], that you can come back and it can be done.”
Looking straight at the camera, Fury added: “Everybody out there who has the same problems I’ve been suffering with, I did that for you guys. You know the truth, everybody out there knows I won the fight, and if I can come back from where I’ve come from, then you can do it too.
“So get up, get over it, seek help and let’s do it together as a team. I did it for you guys.”
ESPN and Top Rank deal
Although fans were initially dismayed once they learned the epic encounter with Wilder would not be played back instantly, the Fury success story cannot be denied.
Reports suggest the ‘Gypsy King’ will pocket £80million for his three-fight-a-year deal in the US, with BT Sports continuing to broadcast his fights on Pay-Per-View in the UK.
At the press conference to announce the deal, Fury and Warren insisted they do still want to make the rematch with Wilder, however admitted that they won’t wait around for this to happen. With Ring Magazine confirming the undefeated fighter is their No.1 heavyweight, you feel as thought Team Fury can call the shots.
With Tom Schwarz up first, the American Dream is tantalisingly close to becoming a reality.
Potential Wilder trilogy fight
With financial security almost guaranteed, the attention turns to the future and what is next for the 6ft 9ins slugger.
And fans are in for a treat, according to Top Rank CEO and founder Bob Arum.
“But no jumping. Anything can happen to Fury, although I don’t think it will, that happened to Anthony Joshua.”
Asked whether a third fight could be on the cards Wilder and Fury, Arum unequivocally replied: “Yes, I can assure you of yes.
“There are a lot of good heavyweights who have had trilogies. This would be a trilogy.”