Senior Boxing Journalist @JamesDielhenn
Tyson Fury: Risky strategy to split with trainer Ben Davison in favour of Sugarhill Steward
Fury links up with new trainer before Wilder rematch, but at what cost?
Last Updated: 16/12/19 7:35pm
The first training session Tyson Fury did alongside his now ex-trainer Ben Davison was hardly strenuous. They went for a walk (quite a long walk, admittedly) but certainly nothing resembling a montage from Rocky.
This was two years ago and Fury, the former heavyweight champion, was seriously overweight and battling mental health issues. His hiatus from boxing would last two-and-a-half years and the man who ended Wladimir Klitschko's decade-long reign was becoming a relic of the past.
And so, he and Davison went for a walk in the hills of Marbella. It was the most important training session of Fury's life.
Obviously it’s not gonna stop until there’s an answer, Tyson and myself had to both make decisions for our careers, which resulted in our working relationship coming to an end, HOWEVER, we remain friends and he will SMASH the DOSSER!!— Ben Davison (@BenDavison_) December 15, 2019
Sunday's news that Fury and Davison have now parted ways came as a shock - their relationship spanned five fights including the draw against Deontay Wilder, and the duo were expected to go into the rematch with the WBC champion together in February. Just last month, Davison was ringside on a scouting mission as Wilder knocked out Luis Ortiz so his parting-of-ways with Fury was not expected then.
Fury will work under Sugarhill Steward next, his third full-time trainer. He won the heavyweight title under his uncle Peter Fury but they were never in the ring together again.
He now leaves behind Davison, a young man plucked from obscurity who has forged a reputation as one of boxing's bright minds, and who played an instrumental role in whatever Fury goes on to achieve.
Davison is 27, a baby in boxing trainer circles, who was part of a Billy Joe Saunders training camp when the inactive and unfit Fury strode in.
Davison told Sky Sports in his first interview as Fury's new trainer in 2017: "Tyson asked me, at the time, if I'd train him for his comeback. I told him to take his time [with a decision] because he had a lot of success with his uncle Peter. Tyson was adamant this was the decision he wanted, and I could see he was hungry for it.
"We gelled straight away. He felt like it was what he wanted. We're the same age so we have a laugh but business is business. When it's time to work, we work.
"Tyson is very easy to work with because he doesn't argue, complain or want an easy way out. Whatever I say we do, we do."
They became an odd couple. Probably only a character as quirky as Fury would have committed to an inexperienced trainer who he'd recently met, four years his junior.
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Getting the old team back up and running, @kronksugarhill @bodypuncher #kronkboysbackintown, LET THE GAMES BEGIN, #GYPSYKING #WILDERISADOSSER @toprank @btsport @espn @frank_warren_official @mtkglobal @marbella.co.uk @allcocktimothy @americanlovemachine @jorgecapetillo02 @kristianevofit
Davison's most important job in the early months of 2018 was to eradicate the demons in Fury's mind, and shed the excess weight. That's why they went for a walk - at the time, Fury's body couldn't handle anything more intense. Slowly but surely, Davison coaxed arguably the world's best heavyweight back out from his unrecognisable shell.
Then they plunged recklessly and dangerously into a fight with Wilder, after just two comeback victories that offered no evidence that they were ready. Fury, of course, climbed off the canvas twice and believed he won 10 out of 12 rounds but was left frustrated by the draw.
It is strange, then, that the trainer who prepared Fury to out-box Wilder for long periods has now been dispensed with.
Davison told Sky Sports he was "excited" and said "all systems are go" for the rematch with Wilder but that fight will now take place with a new voice in Fury's ear.
Perhaps a clue was the short-notice inclusion of Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach into Fury's corner, days before the first fight with Wilder. They insisted Davison was still the boss but it was an unusual move.
Welcoming a third trainer into the fold is also completely at odds with Wilder who has been led by Jay Deas since the first day he strapped on boxing gloves.
Fury's move towards his latest trainer, Sugarhill Steward, is not quite a brand new direction. Fury first trained at the Kronk Gym in Detroit nearly a decade ago under Emanuel Steward, the Hall of Famer who built it into one of the world's top facilities. Sugarhill is Emanuel Steward's nephew and was involved during the days when Fury visited. This is not a step into the unknown.
Perhaps the years of education at Kronk will equip Sugarhill to dealing the most difficult moments a fighter can go through - for example, Fury's knock-downs against Wilder, or the cut against Otto Wallin.
Logically the veteran American and the contacts book that comes with him might open doors that Fury's previous, inexperienced trainer could not. Davison has been dignified, there has been no mud-slinging, he insisted they "remain friends".
He tweeted some weeks ago, alongside a picture of a healthy and smiling Fury: "We succeeded in the ring but we succeeded in life, too" - this will remain Davison's legacy as his trainer.
But should Fury become a two-time world heavyweight champion in his next fight against Wilder, much of the credit must go to Davison. That stroll through the hills of Marbella made everything possible.