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Wilder vs Fury 2: Why did Tyson Fury split with trainer Ben Davison ahead of blockbuster heavyweight rematch?

The Gypsy King will have a new man in his corner on February 22 after parting ways with close friend and former coach Davison in the build up to his career-defining clash against Deontay Wilder – but why?

Few fighters remain loyal to one trainer throughout their careers.

Boxing is a brutal, bruising business and the relationships that exist within it frequently fray under the stress of relentless, punishing competition.

Watch Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury 2 exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office

The list of fighters to have achieved world honours within the same stable they turned professional is brief; Carl Froch, alongside Rob McCracken, and James DeGale, alongside Jim McDonnell, are two greats from the modern era of British boxing to have done so but they are the exception, rather than the norm.

Why then is it such a surprise that Tyson Fury has parted ways with trainer Ben Davison ahead of this month’s WBC heavyweight title rematch against Deontay Wilder?

The Gypsy King is no stranger to switching camps, having been under the tutelage of his uncle, Peter Fury, before joining Davison.

But the timing of his announcement in mid-December raised some eyebrows.

Fury confirmed the move in an Instagram post less than two months before his long-booked rematch against the Bronze Bomber before Davison took to Twitter to confirm the news.

“Obviously it’s not gonna stop until there’s an answer,” Davison wrote, addressing the speculation.

“Tyson and myself had to both make decisions for our careers which resulted in our working relationship coming to an end. However, we remain friends and he will SMASH the DOSSER!”

Davison’s friendship with Fury had appeared to make his position in the camp a fixture ahead of the Wilder fight this month.

Speaking to the Telegraph in June last year, 27-year-old Davison revealed the extent of his involvement in Fury’s life, saying: “On the one hand, I’m organiser, PR man, commercial manager, partly his manager, partly his adviser – every single part of his world I play a part in. But I’m friend, trainer, psychologist, too.

“Tyson puts his trust in me. He trusts my opinion on things large and small.”

Davison is credited by Fury with helping haul the giant heavyweight from the depths of depression, leading him through a gruelling comeback that saw the former unified champion forced to lose more than 10st to repair the damage done to his body during a 30-month hiatus from the ring.

Before becoming Fury’s full-time trainer, Davison had been in the corner for Billy Joe Saunders’ world title defence against Artur Akavov in December 2016, emerging with his reputation enhanced despite Saunders’ underwhelming performance.

And it was due to his relationship with Saunders that Davison was introduced to Fury.

"Billy Joe and I have been friends for a long time and if I took control full-time, it could damage our friendship and our friendship is what came first,” Davison told ESPN in January 2018.

“It's different with Tyson and I because the trainer-fighter relationship came first.”

Building on the strength of his newly-forged alliance with Fury, Davison, in tandem with nutritionist Greg Marriott and conditioning specialist Kristian Blacklock, helped implement a strict training regime that saw a rejuvenated Fury undergo a miraculous body transformation, losing more than 130lb over the course of 12 months.

Most importantly, Davison prioritised the mental wellbeing of his fighter, telling the Telegraph: “For him to get to where he is now was not just a physical transformation, but more of a mental one.

“What you see physically is only a fraction of the transformation that took place.”

In the ring, their partnership was a resounding success with Davison guiding Fury to routine wins over Sefer Seferi and Francesco Pianeta before implementing a near-perfect game plan that took the duo to the brink of victory against Wilder in the first meeting between the two rivals.

Only a controversial decision denied Fury the famous green-and-gold WBC strap that night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, a fight most boxing observers believe the Brit won despite climbing off the canvas twice during a thrilling back-and-forth contest.

Subsequent wins over Tom Schwarz and Otto Wallin, albeit the latter by way of an almighty scare thanks to a gruesome cut, improved Fury’s record under Davison to 4-0-1 but their partnership ended regardless.

So why the split?

Both men have spoken publicly about the decision to part ways, a rare amicable divorce between fighter and trainer in a sport that frequently sees feuding parties in the fallout of similar decisions.

“I’m looking for a knockout. I didn’t come here again to get a bad decision. I know I’m not going to get a decision in the United States,” Fury said.

“After last time, it’s clear. That’s why I hired Sugarhill,” he explained.

“If I didn’t want a knockout, I wouldn’t have employed a Kronk trainer who specialises in sitting on your punches and landing a right hand. Look at all the Kronk fighters, Tommy Hearns, Klitschko even, they all look for that big right hand. That’s all I’m looking for, one big right hand to nail Deontay Wilder. Goodnight. There’s the game plan.

“If I wasn’t looking for a knockout, I would have kept Ben Davison, we would have sharpened up what we were doing. Herky-jerky, slipping and sliding.

“I ain’t looking for that. I ain’t coming here for a points decision… I’ve had plenty of them in my career. I’m looking for knockout number 21 – and that is brutally, from the heart, honest.”

Speaking to iFL TV last month, Davison declined to divulge specifics of the split but explained: “We had a working relationship, we don’t have a working relationship now.

“But I think everybody knew that we had a friendship and that friendship remains. Just because we’re not working together doesn’t mean the friendship isn’t there and if I can take anything from it [the split], it’s that I didn’t want the working relationship to affect our friendship.

“Everything is the same, nothing changes just because we’re not in business together. Sometimes these things happen.”

Some fight fans have suggested the split was initiated in part by Fury’s father, John, who submitted a scathing review of Davison’s cornerwork following Tyson’s dramatic clash against Otto Wallin in September.

John Fury, who remains an influential presence in his son’s career, was part of BT Sport’s broadcast team during the Wallin fight and did not held back in his summary of the evening’s action in Las Vegas.

“I’ve never seen him as bad,” he claimed.

“He looked weight-drained, he looked like he’d left it all in the gym to be honest with you.

“From the second round on there was no snap, there was no real movement, there was no real thought going into his work.

“It was just a laboured performance. He’s a lucky man to get the win to be honest, very lucky indeed.”

Elaborating, the charismatic 55-year-old appeared to point the finger of blame squarely in Davison’s direction.

“You’re never gonna be body beautiful. That’s what he’s emphasised on, looking good, rather than the actual fight itself,” he continued.

“They never listen to you, the dads never know nothing. Everybody else is always right and I’m wrong, but I’ve seen this coming.

“If I had my say, the lot would be gone. Looking at that there, if he keeps hold of that team, they’re gonna cost him his career, I’ll say it live on TV.

“The team being what’s around him now, Ben Davison, whatever he’s got there in charge of the business needs to have a look in the mirror and say, ‘Not good enough at a high level.’ It’s proved it tonight.”

So who is Fury’s new trainer, Javan ‘Sugar Hill’ Steward?

The softly-spoken savant is the nephew of legendary trainer Emmanuel Steward, whose influence on boxing from the world-renowned Kronk Gym is the stuff of legend.

Thomas Hearns, Gerald McClellan, Wladimir Klitschko, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield are just some of the names to have passed through the iconic facility in Detroit, Michigan, benefitting from Emmanuel’s revered knowledge.

Following in his footsteps, ‘Sugar Hill’ has trained world champions like Adonis Stevenson, Anthony Dirrell and Charles Martin and carries a wealth of experience inherited during his tenure at the Kronk Gym.

Speaking about his newly-established relationship with Fury, ‘Sugar Hill’ revealed his surprise that Davison was leaving the camp altogether: "It all happened so fast.

“Initially he spoke to me about coming into camp, then I heard Ben Davison is gone and I'm the head trainer."

Switching camps this close to a big fight is undoubtedly a gamble, particularly given the close nature of Fury’s relationship with

Davison, but ‘Sugar Hill’ is confident it is one that will pay off in explosive style on February 22nd.

“[A knockout] is always the plan. Why think anything less?” he teased.

Watch Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury 2 exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office HD on February 22nd. Click here for more information on how to order this unmissable event.

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