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Tyson Fury cannot take the long shot lightly

Tyson Fury
Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Paul Wheeler previews Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz

ANY likelihood of Tyson Fury overlooking Tom Schwarz this Saturday (June 15) was probably extinguished when he witnessed monumental underdog Andy Ruiz Jnr produce an upset of the ages to dethrone unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua in New York the weekend before last. Watching a vaunted British heavyweight succumb to an unheralded rival on US soil will no doubt have sharpened Fury’s focus ahead of his own Stateside showcase. The last thing in the world he needs is for Schwarz to end up ‘doing a Ruiz’ at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas this weekend.

While no one gave Ruiz much of a hope at all against Joshua, Schwarz is an even bigger outsider against Fury, despite being ranked at No. 2 in the WBO ratings and No. 8 for the IBF. He may have 24 wins (16 early) and zero defeats, but not one of these victories have come against an adversary of real note. In April last year, the German became the first man to beat Senad Gashi – who would go on to lose to notable names in Carlos Takam and Dereck Chisora – but only by disqualification. In what was a truly bizarre affair, Gashi was thrown out in the sixth round for repeated use of the head.

Prior to being ejected, Gashi had been causing Schwarz some serious problems by legal means. The man from Magdeburg was worryingly open to Gashi’s overhand rights, with his defence being penetrated a number of times. Furthermore, Schwarz did not appear comfortable fighting on the inside, which is, of course, a place where Fury thrives with his vast size, quick hands and considerable ring smarts.

Although Schwarz stands at over 6ft 5ins, he will be giving up height to the 6ft 9in Fury, which is something that almost all opponents of the Wilmslow giant must contend with. And with Tyson weighing in at 256 1/2lbs last time out in December, and Schwarz usually scaling around the 240lb mark, there will also be a disparity in weight on the night.

Tom Schwarz hopes to be the architect of another huge heavyweight upset Mikey Williams/Top Rank

No one will need reminding that Fury’s most recent outing ended in a split draw with undefeated WBC titlist Deontay Wilder. In what was a dramatic heavyweight classic, the challenger hit the deck twice, but nonetheless looked unfortunate not to receive the verdict. Wilder is just one of a clutch of top foes that Fury has mixed with, including Chisora (twice – w ud 12 & w rtd 10), Steve Cunningham (w ko 7) and Wladimir Klitschko (w ud 12). The 30-year-old Brit boasts far more experience than Schwarz, both in terms of high-level bouts and simply rounds boxed.     

Whereas Schwarz has never fought outside of Europe before (22 fights in Germany, two in the Czech Republic), Fury has boxed twice in America (against Wilder and Cunningham), as well as once in Canada earlier on in his career. The pair share respectable and very similar knockout ratios (Fury 68 per cent, Schwarz 67), yet neither are known as massive punchers. Fury tends to gradually wear his opposition down by sapping their energy and resolve with his physical strength and chipping away with weighty counters. Schwarz has good recent KO form, but, like Fury, his handspeed is a greater asset than his power. Young and fresh at 25 years old, he has a fast jab for a big man, in addition to a sharp straight right hand. He has certainly been keeping busy, too, with four matches last year and one so far in 2019.

Fury, 27-0-1 (19), had three contests in 2018 after making his comeback following a well-documented absence of over two-and-a-half years. The former WBA, IBF and WBO ruler has been regaining fitness and form with each appearance, but as shown in the Wilder clash and on a couple of other occasions in the past, he can be dropped when caught. Generally, though, his jittery, unorthodox movement and spoiling tactics are a nightmare for his opposite numbers to deal with.

In his first run-out since signing a co-promotional deal with Top Rank – who stage this show alongside his other handlers, Queensberry Promotions – the larger-than-life Fury will lap up the attention. Expect him to clown and coast his way through proceedings, all the while busting up the outgunned Schwarz with solid jabs from both orthodox and southpaw stances. Around the eighth frame of this scheduled 12-rounder, the referee will likely call a halt to an increasingly one-sided encounter.

In the chief support on this BT Sport Box Office (UK) and ESPN+ (US) event, Miami-based Cuban Sullivan Barrera, 22-2 (14), and Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart, 25-2 (21), collide over 10 at light-heavyweight. Considering that Top Rank, who guide them both, also promote/co-promote three of the four current 175lb world title-holders, the chances of the winner challenging for one of the major prizes in their next bout are high.

Barrera has previously fought for the WBA light-heavy strap, while Hart has twice contested WBO super-middleweight honours. This will be the 29-year-old’s first fight since moving up a division, but the extra poundage should suit him, as he will no longer have to boil his tall and rangy physique down to super-middle.

Barrera is a canny mover who puts his punches together well, but he is no stranger to suffering knockdowns and is getting on at 37. The hard-hitting Hart’s determination can see him grind out a close points triumph.

Also in action Los Angeles’ 2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer, 10-0 (4), can maintain her spotless record by outscoring rugged Bolivian Lizbeth Crespo, 13-4 (3), in a lightweight 10-twos.                

The Verdict If Schwarz defeats Fury, it’d be even more of a shock than Ruiz beating Joshua.

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