Published: April 19, 2005
It’s so far, so good for Jeff Fenech as he attempts his extreme makeover on broken heavyweight Mike Tyson.
The early signs are positive.
Fenech can see the hunger in Tyson’s eyes.
The intensity is there during workouts at their training base in
Phoenix, Arizona, and the dedication is present when Tyson wakes up
early for long runs through the desert.
Fenech, who will devote the next two months of his life to
resurrecting 38-year-old Tyson’s career, is confident his tattooed
pupil can once again be the most feared and dominant boxer in the world.
“I have no doubt whatsoever,” Fenech told AAP between training sessions.
“If you look at the heavyweight division at the moment, if Mike
Tyson is fit and wants to do it, he can be the heavyweight champion of
the world again.”
When Tyson held a press conference in the US last week to announce
he would return to the ring on June 11 in Washington DC against
Irishman Kevin McBride, a slow, 198cm tall mass of a man, the critics
had their knives out.
Fenech, as his new trainer, knows some will be aimed at him if Tyson implodes just like he has in the past.
But Tyson is a mate and the two share a strong bond forged over almost two decades of friendship.
“He’s my friend and at the end of the day that’s what you look for,” Fenech explained.
“The other people who have worked with him are very competent, but I don’t know if they have the same bond as Mike and I.
“I’ve spoken extensively with Mike’s ex-wife Monica and she has told
me when it came down to picking his team, Mike wanted me to be there.
“That’s given me a huge thrill. It’s not just I’m training one of the greatest fighters in history, but I’m helping a friend.”
The key to Tyson’s success, Fenech says, will be his fitness.
Fenech does not necessarily want to see the brutal, first round
knockout artist Tyson who thrilled the sports world during the 1980s
“The reason why he rushes in a fight is because he knows he will run out of gas,” Fenech said.
“My job is to get him to a point so he knows he won’t run out of gas
so he can take his time and do things methodically and do them properly
and it will happen on his own.
“If he does that he will knockout McBride.”
Tyson’s pre-fight camp also won’t be like the “holidays” the former
world champion had in his most recent fights, including the 2002
beating Lennox Lewis gave him.
The dry, 40-plus degree Arizona desert heat will make sure of that
during the outdoor training sessions. Fenech will also turn the indoor
workouts into torture sessions.
“Against Lennox Lewis he didn’t train properly for the fight,” Fenech said.
“They were in Hawaii at a holiday resort so they were in holiday mode.
“They knew they’d earn big money so they enjoyed themselves.”
Fenech, a three time world champion, says turning Tyson around is a
bigger challenge than any he faced during his own prolific 28 fight
“This is my biggest challenge ever,” Fenech said.
“My crowning moment will be at the end of the fight when not only
Mike is victorious, but when everybody sees he won’t be tired.”
Tyson, bankrupt after squandering more than $US300 million from his
55 professional fight career, will pick up a $US5 million cheque for
the McBride fight.
When Fenech retired from boxing in 1996, Tyson was one of the first people to help him.
“When I retired from boxing and released my boxing gear, Mike was the first to wear it,” Fenech said.
“For him to earn over $US300 million and to lose it all, if he comes back and I’m part of that, it would be very special to me.”