• Steve Bunce

Battling demons is Fury's biggest fight

Steve Bunce April 10, 2012
Tyson Fury will beat Martin Rogan, but it won't be easy © PA Photos

Tyson Fury faces Martin Rogan this weekend and Steve looks ahead to what he feels will be a tough fight

Tyson Fury has always had to deal with problems on both sides of the ropes - most of which he's made for himself, in many ways. If you've got a problem with weight what you need to do is eat less, and sometimes Tyson's not been very controlled around the fridge. In fact, he's lost control around the fridge.

As for his heavily documented mental problems, that happens to a lot of fighters and they tend not to talk about it. You have to remember it's a strange business: you're alone in the preparations, you're alone in the weeks before the fight and you're alone in the ring. The higher your profile then, bizarrely, the more alone you are. You can do several things: you can compensate by going down the Sugar Ray Leonard route and spend thousands and thousands of dollars each week on drugs, booze and women. Or you can struggle against the problems top fighters have. It's not all glory.

I think Tyson's been very brave talking about the things that are bothering him. His dad's in prison and they were very close. He has to deal with a lot of pressure inside the gypsy community. He told me everywhere he goes where there's a a traveller or gypsy event, people want to fight him; it's part of their culture. It can't be much fun when you're the British champion, for instance, and you go somewhere and you've got people challenging you who are two foot smaller and five stone lighter. He said if he wasn't a British champion he'd like to sort them all out; as the British champion he can't do anything. He has managed to get a lot of profile and that only adds to the pressure.

There's Amir Khan and, I would argue, Tyson Fury is neck and neck with Carl Froch in many ways. There's Dereck Chisora, who gate crashed that little gang, and David Haye's out there somewhere. Tyson Fury, because of the way he looks, because his fights have been on Channel 5 and because he's got a great name, he's got profile and he's got to deal with all sorts of problems. The weight issue keeps getting under control but then slips away from him again; it will be like that for the rest of his career. As for his mental health issues - he is dealing with them on a fight-by-fight basis, but the kid's out there on his own in some ways and it's not easy for him.

The higher up the heavyweight ladder he climbs, in theory, the more difficult the problems. He'll have to be in great shape and his head will have to be right. I think hard fights, fights where he is the underdog, fights that people expect him to lose - I think they'll motivate him and make him a better fighter. When he's focused he's a terrific fighter and down the line you can see a Klitschko in the ring with him. He fancies it now and with the Klitschkos recycling their opponents you don't have to be a genius to realise Fury is right there in the picture. In heavyweight boxing, who hasn't had his shot at the Klitschkos and is in front of Tyson Fury? I can't think of anybody.

Rogan at his best (in the Matt Skelton and Audley Harrison fights) is a really tough, hard prospect - especially over the distance. Marty Rogan's ideal distance would be about 35 rounds so he can pace himself and get his second wind after about an hour and a half. If he's in the shape he says he is in and his body is in the shape he insists it's in (he's had a back problem which is why he's had some absences) then he can make it a long night for Fury. People are overlooking the pride at stake: It's in Belfast, it's in Rogan's home town, he's an Irishman and he considers Fury to be a fake Irishman. The Irish heavyweight title is on the line - stranger things have happened on the way to the forum than this one turning into a hard and gruelling fight.

Rogan brings a lot to the table. Is he a couple of years past his best? Undoubtedly. Has Marty had health problems caused by back injuries? Yes, he has. Can he pull out one last great Marty Rogan fight? Yes, he can. Does that give Fury a potential problem? Yes, it does. That's why this fight will be one of the most watched fights on British TV over the last 10 years. For me, Fury will get to him but it won't be easy. Fury sometimes lets his heart rule his head but he's not an idiot; he'll box sensibly and get to Marty about rounds eight or nine.

George Groves needs the right gameplan to beat Robert Stieglitz © PA Photos

Tactics key for Groves
George Groves has got the fight that we are led to believe James DeGale was offered a year ago. DeGale, for whatever reason, never took it and then he fought and lost to Groves in a very high profile domestic clash at the O2. Groves has gone on and jumped at the opportunity to go for a world title in only his 15th pro fight. He was forced to pull out from a potentially brilliant British title fight against Kenny Anderson, and then he lands WBO super-middleweight champion Robert Stieglitz. I don't think the lack of bouts will be a big factor for George but I also don't think Stieglitz will be the easy touch people think he'll be. He's been a champion for a while; he's a good hard, very tough campaigner. It will take a staggering performance from George to pull off what I think would be a shock.

He's away preparing in David Haye's old training base in northern Cyprus with trainer Adam Booth, and he's going to have to repeat the level of performance he gave against DeGale to beat Stieglitz. Booth's tactics will be crucial - George and former stablemate Haye talk about that a lot. Each round is three minutes and then there's 60 seconds where they find out what they're doing the next round. Things change and the corner needs to be controlled. Communication is key. There will be a plan and no deviation from that plan. Proper trainers do their work in those 60 seconds.

Anyone can get up at 5am and watch their fighters running in the hills or in the snow. Anyone can stand and watch while their fighter skips or punches a bag. Not anyone can change or win a fight in those 60 seconds. Booth can if the fighter is prepared to listen.

Follow Steve Bunce on Twitter: @bigdaddybunce

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.