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British boxer Tyson Fury thrives in Las Vegas limelight

Updated June 14, 2019 - 8:05 pm

Tyson Fury knew he’d be here.

Well before he started fighting, breezed to an unbeaten professional record and survived 12 rounds against vaunted WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder.

“Before I’d ever laced a pair of boxing gloves up I was 100 percent sure I’d be headlining in Vegas,” Fury said. “That’s why I’d never come here until I came here this time.”

As the main attraction and one of the world’s best heavyweights.

Fury, 30, is relishing his first fight in Las Vegas — and all the accompanying fanfare — as he prepares to defend his lineal heavyweight championship against Tom Schwarz on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden. The affable 6-foot-9-inch superstar arrived last month and is renting a mansion in Las Vegas, where he has spent the past several weeks training twice a day for what he says is the most important fight of his career.

“I’m not here for a house, or the casinos or anything else,” he said. “I’m here to fight.”

Fighting is what Fury does. What he loves to do. What he was born to do.

He was born in England into a family of fighters and named after former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. His grandfather was a professional fighter, as was his father, John, who tried to steer him away from the Fury family trade.

To no avail.

Fury turned professional in 2008 and emerged as one of the top heavyweights by battering the best boxers in Europe en route to a 27-0-1 record.

He stunned longtime heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, winning by unanimous decision, battled a lengthy bout with depression and returned to earn a draw in Los Angeles with the unbeaten Wilder, who had stopped 39 of his first 40 opponents.

“Tyson is a freak of nature, physically, mentally and emotionally,” said Fury’s trainer, Ben Davison. “I’ve never seen anything like it from anybody.”

Top Rank CEO Bob Arum signed Fury to a co-promotional deal in February. He compared him to such legends as Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

In performance and personality.

“He’s getting the full rollout. … He’s so articulate. He connects well with the public because he’s so genuine.” Arum said. “Given that, the fact that I believe that he is the best heavyweight out there makes him an awesome, awesome presence in this sport. … He can change the whole nature of boxing because of what a character he is.”

Fury has blended braggadocio with sensitivity this week, contrasting a conspicuous sense of confidence with a visible vulnerability. He vowed Tuesday to break Schwarz’s jaw and ribs, and spoke in earnest Wednesday about the challenges of mental health.

He’ll fight Saturday in Las Vegas for the first time.

Probably won’t be the last time, either.

“I do this because I love it, and it’s my passion,” he said. “I just want to be myself and enjoy it. Enjoy the experience. Enjoy being in Vegas and enjoy putting on a show.”

More Boxing: Follow at reviewjournal.com/boxing and @RJ_Sports on Twitter.

Contact reporter Sam Gordon at sgordon@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BySamGordon on Twitter.

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