ONE of Tyson Fury’s chief sparring partners ahead of the British giant’s massive November 28 world heavyweight title challenge to Wladimir Klitschko believes the fight’s postponement from October 24 has only made the traveller a more likely victor.
Rico Verhoeven, the reigning Glory heavyweight kickboxing champion from the Netherlands, first worked with Fury over three years ago and has been a regular ‘opponent’ for this most crucial of camps. The 6ft 5in Dutchman, who makes his MMA debut on Monday (October 19), feels the delay has only hardened his friend’s resolve.
“I think he’s gonna do really good,” Verhoeven opined. “The fight was postponed but that’s not a problem for Tyson Fury. The postponement made Tyson stronger mentally and he was already very mentally strong. I’m really a fan of both guys but I also think it’s time for a new champion, so I’d want to go for Tyson. Klitschko is a really good boxer so it’s not for nothing he’s been the champion for over 10 years [when all his reigns are considered]. Tyson’s youth, height and weight will be really hard for Klitschko – he’s fought big guys before but not with the high level of skills Fury has.”
Verhoeven knows what he’s talking about only too well. The first time he and Fury sparred the Gypsy warrior closed both of Rico’s eyes. Verhoeven kept coming forward however and coming back over the years, his boxing skills improving as a result.
“I’ve also done pads sessions with Peter Fury, Tyson’s trainer and the sparring has got more difficult for Tyson as I have improved,” reveals Rico, who was last with the Furys two weeks ago and is going back the week after his fight. “The biggest difference is that I grew a lot as a boxer. He did too but now it’s easier for me to give him a hard time than it was at the beginning. Before I was not moving my head enough and walking onto his jab. The way he moves and the footwork for his height and weight-class is amazing. We are definitely in the warzone, we have to work hard. Every time I go over there I see and feel his improvement.”
Verhoeven returns to Glory on December 4 in Amsterdam and aims to show off some of his own development.