Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz: Meet the challenger, a former ‘fat boy’ who dreams of living quiet life in Spain

Schwarz has plotted a steady but unspectacular path to the top end of the WBO rankings, which made him ideal fodder for Fury’s Las Vegas and ESPN debut, set for the MGM Grand on Saturday

Declan Taylor
Las Vegas
Friday 14 June 2019 10:31
Tyson Fury: WBO title could be available against Schwarz

When Tyson Fury turned heavyweight boxing on its head in 2015 by toppling Wladimir Klitschko, a 22-year-old German by the name of Tom Schwarz watched on from the crowd after shelling out over £700 on a ticket.

Like many, Schwarz had expected the Ukrainian icon to despatch the upstart from the north of England and continue his reign of dominance as the division's undisputed king. It all went wrong for Klitschko that night and things did not go so well for Fury in the months that followed.

“I was in the crowd as a fan that night,” Schwarz tells the Independent. “I paid €800, man!”

“I enjoyed it a lot. After the sixth round I said to my friend: 'Fuck, I think Tyson Fury is going to win this'. I didn't imagine I'd end up fighting him myself here in Vegas.”

After claiming the WBO, WBA and IBF titles on that night in the Esprit Arena, a well-documented battle against drink, drugs and crippling depression prevented Fury from ever defending the belts. He returned to the ring 12 months ago and what he describes as his 'second career' is now three fights old.

In the meantime, Schwarz has plotted a steady but unspectacular path to the top end of the WBO rankings, which made him ideal fodder for Fury's Las Vegas and ESPN debut, set for the MGM Grand on Saturday.

The 16/1 outsider has been widely written off by the men who decide the prices in the sports-books along the Strip, and just about every single observer besides. But there is not a hint of pre-match nerves about the German visitor, who has spent most of the week grinning and dancing like a big winner on the blackjack tables.

Wearing an MGM Grand-branded baseball cap, Schwarz does not look to dissimilar from the thousands of holiday makers who have called this Strip home during a fight week on which temperatures have soared beyond 40 degrees.

But Schwarz, now 24-0, revealed he thought twice about ever taking this fight in the first place.

The German at this week's open workouts

“After my last fight I went on holiday,” he adds. “When I got back my promoter asked me which heavyweight I would most like to fight. He said 'who is the best heavyweight for you Tom?'

“Then he asked me who I think the best heavyweight in the world is. I said Tyson Fury. He is a bad and crazy boxer, I would never fight him. But I'd fight Anthony Joshua, that would be a good fight for me.

“Then my promoter said to me: 'Tom, we have a contract to fight Tyson Fury'. I just couldn't believe it. I thought 'no way'.

“I slept on it for one night and then I said yes, of course. It's the MGM. I thought hard about saying 'no' on that first night but since then, everyday I have thought 'yes'.”

The location of this fight, rather than anything to do with his 6ft 9in opponent, appears to be Schwarz's unapologetic reason for eventually accepting the chance to become the 'lineal' heavyweight champion this weekend..

Schwarz, 25, used to watch Floyd Mayweather Jr strut his stuff in the Garden and he found himself unable to reject the chance to follow in the American's footsteps. The offer also presented him with the chance to provide his beloved grandmother Elli, who was a pivotal figure in his upbringing, with her first trip to Las Vegas.

“I lived with her since I was a kid,” he adds. “I am very close to her.

“She's never been here before and it makes me proud to bring her here. This is the biggest stage and she will see me on it.

The two men face-off

“She comes to all the fights and cheers me on. I paid for her to come out for this one. This is a dream and it has come true for us.”

But Schwarz, who started boxing at the age of 12 after being bullied about his weight, says his boxing career has been driven by two contrasting goals.

“From a young age, every day, I had the dream that I could become a world champion,” he says. “It's the same for every kid who boxes I guess but I have the chance to actually do it now.

“But I actually have another dream which I think about every day. I want to have a house in Spain in the sun. This is something I think about every day when I'm training.

Tyson Fury is the overwhelming favourite (Getty

“When I fight, in every round, I have this dream of becoming a world champion and living in my house in Spain under the sun. This is my dream all round. Where in Spain? I don't care. As long as the sun shines.

“I like diving and fishing. I love open-water diving. My deepest dive is 45m on a trip to Egypt. I would say that is my main passion away from boxing. I love it so much, I love the dolphins and the fish.

“I've been doing it for the last four years or so. On my first dive I just thought 'wow, I love this'. It's a rush, the adrenaline. It's like a drug. It reminds me of what it feels like in the ring.”

So far, however, Schwarz is yet to feel the pain of defeat en route to 24-0, which is the same record Fury boasted when he turned up in Dusseldorf to face Klitschko in 2015.

Schwarz wearing his newly purchased MGM cap

Victory on Saturday against the planet's No.1 heavyweight would eclipse Fury's upset in Germany and arguably Andy Ruiz Jr's stunning victory over Anthony Joshua in New York on June 1.

“I was like Ruiz when I first started boxing,” he said. “A little fat boy.

“Back then I thought I'd go to the boxing gym to try and become the best in the world. Now I've got the opportunity to do it.”

Tyson Fury takes on Tom Schwarz live on BT Sport Box Office. For more information go to www.bt.com/btsportboxoffice

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