Frank Warren interview: ‘Tyson Fury's mental health does worry me but I believe he’s already had biggest low’

MATT MAJENDIE
Evening Standard
Getty Images
Getty Images

Frank Warren is all too aware of the wider implications of mental health. His brother, Mark, was a schizophrenic who committed suicide 10 years ago.

So, with his own personal history, he at least partially understands the demons that Tyson Fury has faced and continues to face and, as a result, has a great deal of protectiveness over the boxer.

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It is all too clear that, for Fury, boxing is not so much about the physical demands as the mental side — both in and out of the ring.

For now, Warren insists his fighter “sounds in a good place mentally”, a far cry from when he hit rock bottom in the wake of his Wladimir Klitschko win — battling with drink and drugs and coming close to committing suicide before clawing his way back to the top.

But Warren said: “Of course, I still worry about him. Boxing is a tough sport, but it’s been Tyson’s saviour. My concern is when he leaves boxing. His greatest challenge possibly comes after that.

“Look at Frank Bruno, Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe. They couldn’t handle it. But I like to think that Tyson’s already had his biggest low, he’s aware of what the problems are and will be in the future.

"He’s also fulfilled everything by coming back and will hopefully go on to achieve even more.”

Warren has watched Fury closely from the outset of his career but it was following his second victory over Dereck Chisora in 2014 that the promoter decided he had the potential to be the world’s best heavyweight, a year before he achieved it in unexpected fashion against a previously unstoppable Klitschko.

Warren was impressed by Fury's 2014 win over Dereck Chisora (Getty Images)
Warren was impressed by Fury's 2014 win over Dereck Chisora (Getty Images)

“Tyson took Dereck Chisora to school that day and, in that moment, I became quite a fan,” he said. “But I didn’t realise how bad things got for him out of the ring and there’s some other things involved which haven’t come out that he was quite hurt by.

“He was in a bad place but we got talking. People said it was a risk and were very worried about him. No one really gave him a chance, but we worked hard on plotting his path to getting his titles back and it wasn’t like we were throwing him in the deep end.

"He’s worked so hard and I couldn’t be more delighted — it’s a great advert for mental health.”

Along with Warren, trainer Ben ­Davison had been alongside for the entire journey of redemption before Fury surprisingly decided to axe him in the lead-up to the second Wilder encounter.

Fury explained the need for the change in that he felt, with Davison, he was going stale, the sessions day in, day out, becoming too repetitive.

Fury has now split from trainer Ben Davison and linked up with Javan
Fury has now split from trainer Ben Davison and linked up with Javan

The Briton has instead turned to ­SugarHill Steward. In a conference call on Thursday night from his US training camp, Fury insisted that the move came about with a view to knocking out Wilder, having lost faith in the judges to make the right call come the end of the fight.

As for whether Fury was taking a risk in such a change, Warren added: “Well, before people said Tyson was taking a risk and ‘Who’s Ben?’ — and look how that turned out.

"But Tyson’s a real ­student of boxing and knows the sport well. He made a good choice in Ben and that was the man for him at the time.

“Ben did brilliantly and I’m disappointed that they split, but Tyson felt he needed to add something to his armoury for this fight. But the reality is that no one’s really going to teach Tyson to box.

"This is about a trainer honing a point, and that’s because Tyson believes he can stop Wilder in the ring.”

Fury is confident of beating Deontay Wilder in their Las Vegas rematch on February 22 (Getty Images)
Fury is confident of beating Deontay Wilder in their Las Vegas rematch on February 22 (Getty Images)

For now, Warren sees Fury as the world’s no1 but believes British heavyweight boxing has a strength in depth like never before.

In April, the O2 will host the all-­London encounter between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, and Warren believes the winner of that is the natural challenger once the dust has settled between Joshua, Fury and Wilder.

For now, though, the focus is on Fury. As for a prediction, Warren said: “When I last spoke to Tyson, he said, ‘I’m going to smash him up’. Those are his words, not mine.”

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