Tyson Fury's trainer Sugarhill Steward is guiding Apti Davtaev towards a world heavyweight title
"With Sugarhill in his corner, the sky is the limit for Apti"
By Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 23/03/20 12:52pm
Tyson Fury's trainer Sugarhill Steward has switched his attention to unbeaten Russian Apti Davtaev, who could become a future challenger for a world heavyweight title.
The Detroit-based Davtaev has been priming his destructive power at the Kronk gym, the famed training base for the Steward family, which had been headed by Emanuel, the late mentor for the likes of Wladimir Klitschko and Lennox Lewis.
His nephew Sugarhill has continued the renowned teachings of the Kronk, guiding Fury to last month's WBC title triumph over Deontay Wilder, but has most recently been fine tuning another towering fighter in Davtaev.
With an unblemished 21-fight record, the 30-year-old has been climbing the rankings before the coronavirus delayed a planned clash with Lucas Browne, a former WBA champion, in Las Vegas on March 28.
Standing at 6′ 5″ tall, Davtaev has the same imposing stature as the leading heavyweights, and is being guided towards a world title shot by promoter Dmitriy Salita, who previously steered Swede Otto Wallin towards a fight with Fury last September.
"Apti has the skills, size and power to be a real force in the heavyweight division," Salita told Sky Sports. "Although they have different styles, physically Tyson Fury and Apti are of similar size.
"With Sugarhill in his corner, the sky is the limit for Apti."
After battling to a draw with Wilder in their first fight, Fury parted company with trainer Ben Davison to link up with Sugarhill Steward, having previously been educated in Emanuel's aggressive approach to the sport.
The British fighter displayed more attacking ambition in the rematch, unloading his right hand with regularity as Wilder was forced onto the back foot and Fury would floor him twice, with a straight right and then an audacious body shot, before the towel was thrown in.
Davtaev has also benefitted from Steward's methods and revealed the ruthless mindset that is drilled into him as he seeks to extend his record of 19 knockouts in 20 victories, with a solitary draw.
"Training in Detroit has made me stronger," said Davtaev. "I have a fresh new look on boxing. I'm more confident and experienced, and my power has grown immensely.
"I've also become a more aggressive fighter. I go after opponents and try to finish them, rather than just beating them."
With the boxing schedule on hold due to the ongoing pandemic, Davtaev must sit and wait for news on his bout with Browne, who briefly became a WBA champion in 2016 following a stoppage win over Ruslan Chagaev.
All of the major world heavyweight titles currently reside in Britain, with Anthony Joshua holding the WBA 'super', IBF and WBO belts, along with newly-crowned WBC king Fury, and Davtaev has to earn a place in the line of challengers.
But with Steward by his side, he intends to force his way into the plans of a world champion, which could lead to a dilemma for an in-demand trainer.
"A victory over Lucas Browne is very important to me," said Davtaev. "The heavyweight division is very exciting right now with many top names, and I believe I am one of them.
"I've only seen a few of Browne's fights. He's a tough, experienced boxer.
"I have been looking for a step-up opponent for a very long time. It'll be an exciting fight while it lasts."