The great Freddie Roach has helped Tyson Fury and his trainer Ben Davison develop their game plan for Saturday’s WBC heavyweight title fight with Deontay Wilder.
Fury fights to regain his status as world champion at Los Angeles’ Staples Center, where his inexperienced trainer Davison will be joined in the corner by the respected Roach, head of the Wild Card gym, and Ricky Hatton.
It is Roach who, credited with transforming Manny Pacquiao into one of the finest fighters in history, has long been recognised as the world’s leading trainer, having had an illustrious career in which he also worked with Wladimir Klitschko and Mike Tyson.
Roach’s tactics, incidentally, were also significant when Pacquiao inflicted the most devastating defeat of Hatton’s career in 2009, and it is only since Fury’s recent move to Wild Card from Big Bear in California that his approach has been discussed in greater depth.
Discussing his role with the heavyweight, who also previously worked under the late Emmanuel Steward, he said of their game plan: “They didn’t really have one set.
“It was dependent on Tyson doing things himself; when I came in I said very calmly ‘Maybe you might want to try this and that’ and it worked out very well.
“Wilder’s fought two southpaws and struggled with both of them. Tyson was born left-handed; he’s great (as a southpaw). He maybe should have been a southpaw all along.
“A lot of people think he’s not a puncher but he can punch really hard and knock this guy out in the late rounds. I see Tyson by knockout in the late rounds; people think that he can’t punch, but he can punch really, really good. I believe I have the better puncher of the two.”
The 58-year-old Roach also endorses Davison’s abilities, and does so having rarely been reluctant to criticise what he has considered the poor work of other, higher-profile trainers.
“I’ve watched him on the mitts and so forth,” he said. “He’s good; he needs to work on some things. He’ll ask me questions once in a while, but he’s doing a really, really good job.
“He’s a very young man (26 on Thursday) - he’s younger than I was when I started training. He’s impressed me - he’s very good. He does a very good job. Game plan and strategy-wise I think he just needed a little more help.
“(There’s) nice combinations that he puts together well, and I like that. That’s what I do - my favourite things to do.
“There’s a lot of pressure on Ben. He has a lot of pressure. If things maybe fall apart or something like that, we’re there. Ricky will be there also.”
Asked how Fury compares to the finest heavyweights he has worked with, Roach responded: “He fits right in there.
“Tyson could deal with all of those guys. Could he beat them all? I’m not so sure. He would definitely have a chance - anyone who underestimates him will lose, and that’s happened here.”