Published: March 4, 2005
By Darren Nichols
March 04, 2005 – Capturing a major world titles in three different classes over a span of twelve years was as much fulfilling as it was challenging for Jeff Fenech. But now the Australian great is in the midst of taking on his toughest opponent to date: Mike Tyson. As a long time friend of Tyson, Fenech is excited about the daunting task to get Iron?Mike back into prime shape to once again become champion of the world. BoxingTalk spoke with Fenech Monday night to get his thoughts on his latest venture with Tyson as well as his other championship fighters.
BoxingTalk: Jeff, are you and Tyson currently training together?
Jeff Fenech: Mike is in Italy. He left on Monday to present an award in Italy.
BT: You helped Mike out when he was training for his fight against Clifford Etienne, how did you two get working together again?
JF: Well, Ive known Mike for many years and Ive helped him many times. When he came out for the Hopkins-Eastman fight, he stayed with me, and we did some training. He asked me if I thought I could get him fit, because he knows what I can do. He knows that all my fighters are more than fit. I told him, Mike, its up to you, Mate. Its not up to me. I will get you fit if you want to get fit.? Thats when he said, Yeah, lets do it.? Im really excited. This is a huge challenge for me. This might be my greatest ever challenge.
BT: Do you feel you have the respect from Mike that you will need to train him?
JF: I know Mike respects me and I respect him. When Im with Mike, hes a different person. We really enjoy each others company, were good mates, and I think that Mike will respond to my training.
BT: Mike has now had a multiple of people training him, what will be able to do that some of his other trainers could not?
JF: Nothing against the other trainers, but I just feel that Mike and I have a genuine respect for each other. I was with Mike before he fought Etienne, and I went home 5 days before the fight because I wasnt going to tell Mike he did something good unless he did something good. I saw everybody there with him let Mike do what he wanted to do. I took this challenge because I love Mike Tyson, and I know if we can get everything together working then I believe that he can be world champion again. If I didnt believe it, then I wouldnt get into all this. I know Im going to be away from my family for a long time doing this, and there is nothing more important that my two girls, my son, and my wife. There in the world is more important, no money, no nothing, but Mike has been a very close friend of mine, and he has showed me great kindness and generosity on many different occasions, and I want to give back to someone who is such a good friend of mine.
BT: Would you say that when you left Mikes training camp that it was on bad terms?
JF: It wasnt on bad terms. Mike had gotten a tattoo on his face, and I didnt see that Mike was mentally right for the fight. Listen, when Im with a fighter, Im not one of those guys that shows up for an hour at the gym, I am with them 24/7. I stay at their house, and I saw the people driving Mike mad, and I saw the torture that Mike Tyson was going through, and I said to myself that I didnt want to be a part of it. But before I left I told Mike, Go in there and do your thing, and if you see that chance knock him out.? Mike is a highly strung guy, and when Mike is training with me I am going to see that he gets no phone calls from people that want to distract him. Its all up to Mike though. Im not a trainer of people who lose, and Ive told Mike that. Ive also told him that all I want to do is for he and I to go into this venture giving it 100%, no matter what happens, win or lose. If we knew walk away from the fight losing, at least we can say that we worked hard and have no excuses. Mike had excuses for why he lost his last fights, but its because he didnt train properly. I want to erase those thoughts, let him be positive so he knows that hes doing everything right, and if hes doing everything right, then well fight, if not then Ill tell him. Im not going to throw Mike in the ring thinking hes going to lose.
BT: Can you get Mike back into the shape that he was in his prime?
JF: A Mike Tyson that can box ten rounds can beat a Klitschko. When I work with Mike, Im going to get him fit for the whole fight, not for one round. Ive told Mike, Lets get in some rounds, lets work, lets get the movement back, lets get the confidence back, and lets do it the right way.?
BT: How will your experience with training some of your other fighters influence how you train Mike?
JF: I have some great fighters. Lovemore Ndou showed tremendous courage against Junior Witter , Vic Darchinyan, who just won the IBF flyweight title against Irene Pacheco. Ive got Hussein Hussein who is going to fight on the undercard of Morales-Pacquiao on March 19th against Jorge Arce. I have Danny Green who will no doubt be the super middleweight champion of the world when he knocks out Markus Beyer, and for Mike Tyson to see these guys work is going to push him and make him work harder. For the last five days that weve trained Mike has done some tremendous stuff, now what we have to work on is being able for ten rounds, not two.
BT: What is the first thing you will need to do to get Mike in fighting shape?
JF: I need to get him knowing and believing that he can go out there and box for ten or twelve rounds. We all have the same size heart, its the mental approach, its the mental preparation that happens before the fight that counts. If you dont have that, how do you expect to do it in the real thing?
BT: Do you know when we could see Mike back in the ring?
JF: Were looking at a date in June. I told Mike this morning before he left for Italy that if he was to fight in June, which is 12 weeks away, that I wouldnt want him to train for 12 weeks. As long as he is doing the right thing like dieting, not doing things he knows hes not suppose to do, like drinking, which he promised me he wouldnt do, It will take us 8-10 weeks to get him in shape. I dont want him to be sick of training, I want him to be able to enjoy his training.
BT: Will you try and change anything in Mikes training that he has learned throughout his boxing career?
JF: Im not going to try and change him, but I want to give him a bit more time to think in the ring. When Mike has time to think that is when he is most dangerous. Everybody has made promises about Mike Tyson. Im not going to make any promises, but I am going to deliver Mike Tyson to the ring fitter than hes been in the last 5 years, no doubt, and he will be ready to fight 12 rounds. I wouldnt put him in the ring if I thought he could only box two rounds.
BoxingTalk thanks Mr. Fenech for taking the time to speak with us. We wish him great success both in and out of the ring.