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Tyson Fury says he may need to get up off the canvas to avoid a shock heavyweight defeat by Tom Schwarz on a hectic Saturday night of boxing on BBC Radio 5 Live.
Fury faces unfancied German Schwarz in Las Vegas after Josh Warrington defends his IBF world featherweight title against Kid Galahad in Leeds.
Warrington – whose fight is set to start around 22:00 BST – says it might be the last time he fights in his home city, believing victory over Sheffield’s Galahad holds the keys to his “dreamland” as he targets glamour fights in the US next.
Both bouts will be on BBC Radio 5 Live and Fury – floored twice in his December draw with Deontay Wilder – told BBC Sport he will not take his fixture lightly, asking: “What’s to say my chin hasn’t gone?”
- Listen: ‘A mad night at Fury manor’
Fury questions his own chin
Fury’s bout with Schwarz, 25, is set to start around 04:00 BST on Sunday, and comes in the wake of Anthony Joshua’s shock loss of the IBF, WBA and WBO world titles to Andy Ruiz on 1 June.
Another upset seems unthinkable – as even though Schwarz boasts 24 wins from 24, he has been cherry-picked for Fury to shine on his Las Vegas debut, the first bout of a lucrative television deal with ESPN.
“Every time I think it’s an easy fight, I end up on the floor or something,” Fury, a 1-25 favourite with bookmakers, told 5 Live Boxing podcast. “I am not sold that it will be as easy as people think.
“I was put down heavily last time twice. What’s to say my chin hasn’t gone? We don’t know, do we?
“What’s to say I can even take a punch any more? This is why I can never ever take a man who has never lost as an easy fight.
“This man knows he changes his life and the life of his family if he beats me. I have a funny feeling I am going to have to get up off the floor in this fight to win it.
“I have been in Las Vegas for four weeks now. I’ve been to the casinos, won a few hundred dollars, that’s it.
“I’m here long enough for an after-party but if I get chinned there’ll be no party.”
OCD eliminates worry and a dip
Schwarz was in the crowd when Fury became a world champion by beating Wladimir Klitshcko in 2015, only for the 30-year-old Briton to relinquish his titles to focus on battling mental health and drug issues.
Fury has taken the advice of former world champion Ricky Hatton in staying away from Las Vegas strip hotels in order to avoid distraction but his face has been emblazoned on billboards and blackjack tables in Sin City as part of a push to build his US profile.
The team behind him believe his personality will endear him to the American public and Fury has been typically open in fight week, notably on his mental health issues and how he eradicates worry from his day through habits he feels point to obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
Fury spoke of being unable to sleep if he knows there is a dirty plate in his kitchen, his need to keep his stereo volume on an even number and says he also has to have all his car’s dashboard vents at an identical angle in order to stave off the type of worry than can ruin his day.
His trainer Ben Davison admits he expected a “dip” in Fury’s mood after December’s draw with WBC champion Wilder – but that one has yet to materialise.
“The biggest thing we can take away from the draw with Wilder is how he has stayed mentally balanced,” said Davison.
“My job as a trainer is to now keep learning how I can keep adding to his game.
“You look at Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken and all of a sudden he is getting stick. You’re always in that territory. I know one fight can change everything and we are making sure not to make a mistake.”
A win will add to Fury’s momentum and he is expected to fight in the US again in October before facing WBC champion Wilder again in 2020.
Warrington’s final Leeds bow?
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Warrington has maintained a relentless focus in amassing 28 career wins. He enjoyed a stand-out 2018 in capturing a world title and later defending it against Carl Frampton, where he won plaudits for an incredible energy and work-rate.
The 28-year-old expected to take his career and his army of Leeds fans to the US but first has to get past Galahad, whose real name is Abdul-Bari Awad.
“I’m at a stage where I’m outside the fairground, Bari has the keys and once I get through the gates I’m into dreamland, a place where I never ever thought I would be,” Warrington told the 5 Live Boxing podcast.
“I can be part of Madison Square Garden or the things in Vegas. I want to aim for the stars and it’s 36 minutes away.
“I keep telling people this could be the last time I am at Leeds Arena and I kind of want it to be.
“You go to the States and maybe when you come back, you’re too big for Leeds Arena. It’s about ambition, drive and vision.”
Warrington beat Galahad, 29, twice during their time as amateurs. The pair have clashed repeatedly in the build-up, notably about the backdated two-year doping ban Galahad received in 2016.
And Galahad’s team visibly drew a reaction from Warrington at Wednesday’s news conference, insisting the champion was struggling to maintain motivation for the contest.
“It’s destiny,” said Galahad. “I have dreamed about this all my life and always knew I would fight Josh as a professional. I believe I am better in every department.”
Analysis – A healthy glow and injury rumours
BBC Sport boxing commentator Mike Costello, who will be ringside in Las Vegas: “I am absolutely gutted I can’t be at the two fights at once.
“When I spoke to Fury this week, I was struck by how unbelievably healthy he looked. That complexion belongs on a magazine cover.
“I know some will say he can afford to be relaxed fighting someone who is ranked only number seven in Germany but I think he has disarmed Schwarz this week, sucking him in with friendship.”
BBC Radio 5 Live analyst Steve Bunce: “I will say for Schwarz what I said about Ruiz – I think he will go down swinging.
“As for Warrington, I went to see him and I usually don’t like to see fighters that are quite highly strung and he is near a fight.
“There have been rumours of injury or missing training but he looked as sharp as I have ever seen him look and even more focused. He still feels he doesn’t get what he should be getting.”
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