Top Rank on ESPN blow-by-blow commentator Joe Tessitore, analysts – former pound-for-pound two-division world champion, Andre Ward, and former two-division world titleholder, Tim Bradley, participated in a media conference call yesterday to discuss the showdown between undefeated lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs), the self-proclaimed “Gypsy King” vs. Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs), Saturday, June 15 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. The fight will air live and exclusively on ESPN+ at 10 p.m. ET, with the undercards airing live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes, beginning at 7p.m. ET.
A transcript of the conference call follows:
JOE TESSITORE: Thank you. Welcome, everybody. By the way, I need to boost up my introduction after listening to the introduction of my partners here, Tim and Andre.
Listen, we’re very, very excited. We’ll open it up for questions in a little bit. The one thing we’re most excited about, we just saw it a few weeks ago with what happened with, we saw it with the explosive right hand power of Deontay Wilder, but it all began on December 1st in L.A. in the 12th round which Tyson Fury got up from that devastating knockdown after completing out-boxing Deontay Wilder in the controversial draw. There was a huge boost stateside in excitement of the heavyweight division.
But then with what’s been happening in this division, with the major signings in this deal, Fury coming stateside, you just get the sense that we are right now in the early stages of what could be a golden era again in the division with depth and unpredictability and thrilling fights, dynamic characters.
We feel that on Saturday night on ESPN+, the most dynamic and the biggest personality maybe right now in sports is ready to really shine.
But we also know that this division, with men this size, as was just proven in New York, anything can happen. Obviously the reports and what’s out there about Wilder and Fury having the rematch which we’re thrilled to be a part of in our network in early 2020, but there’s a lot to happen before we get to that. It gets started on Saturday night.
I will tell you that on this crew, we’ve all been involved for a long time in the sport, it’s noticeable to us things on two fronts in terms of when we use those words ‘awareness’ and ‘relevant’. There’s boxing and then there’s heavyweight boxing.
Internally at ESPN, you see it on other platforms, these fights are covered differently. This week you see so much mainstream attention for Tyson Fury. I don’t think it’s by accident. I don’t think it’s because he’s the champion. This guy’s personality, this guy’s recent comebacks, the way he goes about his business with such authenticity, takes everything head on.
The discussions he’s been having of awareness of mental health, the honesty he puts forth in discussing his failings, his comeback, American sports fans are falling in love with him right now.
I get up and see the coverage. It’s really something. I think a lot of that energy and momentum is carried this week in Vegas. His press conference yesterday was outrageous. We’re looking forward to having a long visit with him with our production crew later today.
Then you see the response by our network. You see what this commitment is with Top Rank and ESPN. Everything we’re doing serves the boxing fans so much better.
Friday night on ESPN, they are handing us the keys to the network for a window of two and a half hours from the weigh-in show to a special 90-minute prime time special getting ready for Fury-Schwarz. It is unprecedented. To think what people were saying about the sport just five, seven, ten years ago when it was stuck in the corner of premium cable, then the outrageous demands of Pay-Per-View, we couldn’t be happier.
I’ll turn it over to the guys, then we’ll take questions. Here is Mr. Andre Ward with his opening comments.
ANDRE WARD: Just like our first conference call, Joe pretty much covered it all.
I am happy to be here. I’m happy to be a part of this event. Tessitore kind of spoke about it briefly, the heavyweight division, where it’s at right now. When the heavyweight division is healthy, we’ve seen historically that boxing seems to be healthy.
We have people clambering about the heavyweight matchups, whether it’s Joshua, Wilder, Fury, and now Ruiz has inserted himself abruptly. This is something that’s on mainstream television constantly. Obviously on the message boards, everywhere else. It’s an exciting time for the heavyweight division. It’s an exciting time for the sport of boxing.
Just to speak a little bit about the main event, I’ll let Tim talk about the under cards, those fights. As you look at Schwarz, some people would say he doesn’t have a shot. On paper, it’s a tough ask for a fighter that hasn’t fought the competition of Tyson Fury. Also in the sport of boxing, all you can ask for is an opportunity and chance. Schwarz has his opportunity and chance come Saturday night.
If you look at Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora, he has fought some French contenders, but he hadn’t really fought the likes of Vladimir Klitschko. Not a lot of people gave him an opportunity either heading into that fight. Tyson Fury made his name and made his stance in the heavyweight division from that fight. The Germans are hoping that Tom Schwarz can do the same.
It’s an exciting night. Tyson Fury has a lot to gain and a lot to lose if he performs or if he does not perform. Again, for the skeptics out there, who feel like this fight is a foregone conclusion, I’ve been on the record feeling as if Tyson Fury is going to handle Schwarz rather easily, we can’t help but look at what happened a couple weeks ago with Ruiz and Joshua. We just can’t.
This adage is true in boxing, one fight can change it all. We know this is true especially in the heavyweight division. We have to leave room for a fighter rising to the occasion, one punch landing in the right spot at the right time. Let’s see what happens. I’m excited about the fight. I can’t wait to call it Saturday night.
TIM BRADLEY.: Just to piggyback what Dre (Andre Ward) was saying, the unexpected is always around us 24/7 baby. It is. The heavyweight division is back, like the ’90s, man. You know, the thing is that I got into boxing watching heavyweight boxing. When boxing is heavy, healthy, it’s exciting. It’s exciting for the whole sport.
We have four guys right now, I honestly think we have more, Joshua, we also have Ruiz, we also have Wilder in there, then we have our guy here on ESPN Tyson Fury, baby. These guys are into a round-robin. There’s so much money to be made.
These are the type of fights that no one knows who is going to win these matches. We can say whatever we want to say about each guy, we have every different shape and size. We have different personalities all the way across the board. I’m just happy, man, to be a part of this. I’m happy to be showcasing Fury and Schwarz this weekend. I think it’s going to be a great fight.
I think a little differently. I think that Fury needs to have a good performance, a knockout would be beautiful, but I think he just needs to win. We all know the fight we want to see. We want to see the Wilder-Fury II. Fury has to take care of what he needs to do Saturday night, then Wilder needs to take care of Ortiz, we going to get that second match.
Anyway, I’m open for questions. I’m happy, I’m excited. I’m glad to be here in Vegas. Brings back a whole lot of vibes being in this big atmosphere.
Q. What are your thoughts about the co-main event featuring Philadelphia’s Jesse Hart moving up to light heavyweight?
JOE TESSITORE: Dre could answer that very well. All three of us have been very close with Jesse in recent years with the two fights against Ramirez… Dre, why don’t you lead off.
ANDRE WARD: I think it’s a great matchup simply put. Barrera is the type of guy where he wasn’t the top Cuban at the farm in the Cuban camp, but he would go to tournaments, but wasn’t the silver, gold medalist Cuban.
That’s true in his professional career where he’ll get to the door, he’ll perform, test the champion. He has won some good fights, but he hasn’t been able to show that he has championship pedigree.
That being said, he’s still a tough, tough task. I won the majority of our rounds. He was the type of guy you had to come ready and you had to be on point or he would have a night.
As far as Jesse Hart, he’s moving up in weight. Personally, I like the move-up with weight. With Jesse’s frame, I felt like for the past two years, 168 pounds was not good for him. As fighters, we come up, boxing is in the Dark Ages as far as our perspective with the body, how it works. We were told as young fighters, boil yourself down, keep the advantages, only move up in weight when you absolutely have to.
I don’t know if he has to move up because he absolutely has to. This is more like, hey, I don’t want to get caught in this 168-pound mess. He’s going up voluntarily.
I think he’s going to show a lot better, not fade later in fights. I think the key for Jesse is for him to put on a complete fight, know when to be that North Philly fighter, and when to box and use his God-given ability. If he does that, I see him winning this fight, possibly getting a stoppage. Barrera has been down, Jesse has been hurt. Barrera can be tinny at times.
Jesse, I’m reading and hearing, he wants to go in there and toe the line, have a fight from the beginning, going to make it a lot tougher. You get into a 50/50, 60/40 fight in his favor, but it’s still unnecessarily tough against a veteran like Barrera.
TIM BRADLEY.: Do I need to say more? Boxing is seriously back. Look at the light heavyweight division. We have Kovalev, Alvarez, Marcus Browne, we have Barrera. We also have Ramirez who we showcased on our show as well. Now we’re getting Jesse Hart moving up to 175 pounds.
Jesse Hart, have you ever been home shopping? That’s exactly what he’s doing. He’s shopping for a new home. You want to know why? His old home wasn’t that good, he’s outgrown it. Plus there was a guy that kept bothering him at that weight class, his name is Roberto Ramirez. Never won a championship there.
Right now he’s moving up because he’s looking for another place. I think his confidence may be a little shot at 168. 175, he’s looking for newfound confidence in his career. Maybe to rejuvenate himself to get some confidence by beating Barrera, who is right now on the light heavy list at No. 7. He’s ranked No. 7. He’s just getting right into the mix. He’s not playing.
I think it’s going to be a great fight. Think Barrera, 37 years old, a little watered down maybe at this point. He still has power, his fundamentals and technique. I think Jesse Hart is going to have to box and box and box. He’s going to have to box all night to beat a guy like Barrera.
JOE TESSITORE: When it comes to this fight, I was very happy to see where this fight fell on the bout sheet and on our programming schedule because this is going to be the fight. Obviously the promotion for Fury is driving the audience to ESPN+ is overwhelming, especially in the course of the next 48 hours, it’s going to be a tidal wave of promotion across all ESPN platforms, far beyond the endemic media we’re used to in boxing, very mainstream.
That means there’s going to be a lot of tune-in at 10 Eastern. When folks tune in that are mainstream sports fans, they’re going to see Schwarz. In the next three to five years, you’re going to have unification bouts, you’re going to have rematches, you have excellent fighters in their prime, you have some established names, and many of them are under the same promotion of Top Rank, which means we’re not going to have a lot of hurdles to make these fights.
We’ve seen this guys this year on our air. There’s talk of unification, coming up on ESPN the second half of 2019 which continues into 2020. The winner of this fight is going to be in a good spot, especially Jesse Hart, 29 years old, moving up to a new weight class.
When you are thinking about a guy who the losses are these highly competitive fights against another guy who is moving up to 175, has a 40-0 record. Between Ramirez and Jesse Hart coming into the division, then Alvarez, (indiscernible), Kovalev, Bostic already being established, this is a division that’s going to get everybody’s attention for the next three to five years with high, high quality fights that will continue on.
I love the fact that it gets this spotlight just prior to Tyson Fury.
Q. When you look at Tyson Fury the boxer, mentally he’s in a much better place than he was. Where does he rank or at least compared to the version of Tyson Fury that beat Klitschko? Is he equal to or greater than?
TIM BRADLEY.: I think he’s greater than. I think he’s confident. The fact that he got up when nobody gets up on Wilder’s right hand, is the fact that he’s a lot better now. He’s in a better place.
Plus all the money they throwing at him. You can’t be more motivated when you getting that much money, that much bread. I’m telling you, man. You see how slim he is. He’s serious about this game. He’s always been serious. He’s always been a fighter. I know he had that two and a half years hiatus or off, but at the same time he’s back now. I think he’s a lot better now. I think he’s a lot quicker.
I don’t know if you’ve been watching anything on YouTube or any of the press tour, what he’s been doing, the workouts he’s been doing.
He’s quick, elusive, faster than ever, more powerful than ever.
ANDRE WARD: I agree with Tim. If you look at the way Tyson Fury looks right now, he’s slimmed up. He seems to be living the life of a fighter. To me, that means he’s constantly working his craft. He doesn’t seem to be doing a lot of extracurricular activity outside of the ring, outside of the gym. That’s the first thing. He’s living like a fighter.
Again, I didn’t know him personally back then. I don’t know him personally now. But just from what I’ve seen, he seems to be more dedicated now than he was back then.
When you go through the Klitschko fight, the personal issues, when you go through the Wilder fight when a lot of people, even people in his family felt like that was a career suicide to take that fight. When you go through those things, you come out on the other end, you have no choice but to be better, more seasoned, even more hardened as a man and as a fighter.
He’s definitely better. He’s definitely more confident, or as confident as he’s ever been, if he’s ever lacked confidence. He’s seasoned, more seasoned than he’s ever been. I would say he’s in his absolute prime right now.
Q. Joe, anything to add to that or more of the same mindset?
JOE TESSITORE: I had the chance to spend time with Tyson about two hours after he landed at JFK. He came to New York. I drove down from my house to meet him for dinner. As soon as he walked into the restaurant, walked up to the table, I just could not believe what he looks like physically now, how he has transformed his body.
We had a long talk about that. He still weighs 265 pounds. But how he is so tight, so strong, so athletic right now. The training video, even what he did in the lobby here the other day, the hand speed, the fluidity, the upper body movement. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think you were looking at a welterweight or middleweight. To think the guy is 6’9″.
I thought his night against Klitschko was very, very special, a high watermark.
I do take into account the version we saw him against Wilder was a guy still shaking off ring rust, not in his physical prime.
The guy I see right now is an absolute physical beast, and he knows it. He’s got that swag and confidence. I think what you saw yesterday, how lighthearted and how much fun he was having at the final press conference, is a guy who knows very much what he is and where he is.
I do think that this is a guy who you get the best of right now. Listen, yes, he had the personal stuff that he had to clear up. At the end of the day there aren’t a lot of miles on the odometer. You have a 30-year-old, 6’9″, 265 prime athlete. I do expect him to be the best we’ve seen of him through this fight into early 2020 against Wilder when we get the rematch.
Q. (Question about Sonny Conto .)
ANDRE WARD: I’m going to field the question, because I heard probably half of it.
I think what you were asking was how does that affect Conto, his experience of sparring with some of the bigger-name heavy weights, Jesse Hart. It’s a fine line, right? For some young fighters who don’t get hit a lot, they’re not going into a training camp trying to be a sparring partner, it can be good. But you have to be sensible about that.
Now, if the work is just good work, 50/50 work, have good days, of course it’s going to help him improve. As long as Conto, and this is more for his heavyweight sparring, not so much his sparring with Hart, when he’s sparring the other heavyweights that are more established, he just has to have a boss mentality. He ain’t there to help. He’s there to give the champion or the contender rounds, but he’s also grooming himself to be a champion.
As long as he’s having those sparring sessions with the right mindset, it’s good, he has to go in from the right frame of mind.
JOE TESSITORE: Somebody from a recent generation is when a young man from Omaha did that with Tim in Palm Springs.
TIM BRADLEY.: Terence Crawford came out, helped me for the first fight. Before that, he helped me for the Devon Alexander fight. He wasn’t known. He was able to not only gain experience inside of the ring but outside of the ring, the way I carried myself out of the ring, how I was close to my family, how I managed my money and my time.
But Crawford took a lot from that camp. That’s another area where if Conto was hanging out with these guys, he has the ability to ask them questions and to spend time with them, not just in the ring, I’m talking about outside the ring. That way he can do the right thing.
Plus, one of the things that Terence always said when I was training with him is that — I would do four-minute rounds. Now Terence has adopted those four-minute rounds. He’s going to learn a whole heck of a lot sparring those guys.
On the downside, like Dre (Andre Ward) was saying, the downside is if you do have that sparring partner mentality, sparring these big guys, if you don’t feel like you’re the boss in there, you will fall in that area where you can be taking too much punishment.
I was never the guy to spar another champion, especially someone in my weight class. That was a no-no in my camp. I had a chance to spar Ricky Hatton, I said absolutely not. I had the chance to spar with Mayweather, I said absolutely not. Might fight him someday. I had a chance to spar Pacquiao. I may face him one day.
There was a fine line, but Conto can gain a lot of experience on this.
ANDRE WARD: My last point, you have to have that foresight. Even though I have two fights right now, this guy has 20 fights, something may happen, he may be around, I may face this man for all the marbles. He may have that reference point going back to the sparring session.
You can’t avoid every opportunity and just live in fear about it, but you got to have the foresight. You got to use wisdom.
The last part that I want to talk about is, this is the mindset, I’ll sum up the mindset, when you have to go in there like the boss. It’s not that you’re trying to abuse any unwritten gym rules or anything like that. Our goal in the two or three training camps that I’ve ever been a part of when I was a young fighter, either amateur or young pro, facing another champion, the goal is to get sent home. I want you to go to my team, It’s not what we’re looking for, it’s too much. That’s the boss mentality if you’re trying to be a champion in the ring one day. I think that young man is trying to be a champion in the ring one day.
Q. Andre and Tim, you both fought in Vegas. This will be Fury’s first fight in Vegas. How do you think he should fight to impress the fans?
ANDRE WARD: I think Tyson Fury being himself, that’s sufficient enough. It’s more than enough. I don’t think he has to reach into a bag of tricks. What hasn’t he done in the ring? He’s talked the talk, he’s walked the walk, backed it up. He’s a showman in the ring, outside the ring. He can fight. That’s the most important thing.
He passes the smell test, you know. There’s a lot of guys superficially that look a certain way. You start to take a hard look at them, they’re not what they are cracked up to be. Tyson Fury is the real deal, no doubt about that.
There is something special about fighting in Vegas. I’ve had only two opportunities, my last two fights, that will always be a special place in my heart.
You definitely want to put on a show. But being himself, staying within himself, that’s going to be more than enough.
TIM BRADLEY.: I like Tyson Fury. I think between him and Wilder, it’s a pick ’em fight. I typically like the boxer. Fury is that boxer. Fury is the type of fighter that you take him out, he’s the type of guy that gets you drunk before he mugs you. He’ll keep you spinning in circles.
He is very flamboyant personality, style, sense of style. You see his suits with all the lineal champions on it. This guy, he’s a seller. He wants to be the best heavyweight in the world. Right now Ring Magazine has him rated No. 1. I think they have it right. Wilder No. 2. Ruiz No. 3. They also have Joshua No. 4. I think they have it right.
I think that Fury, he needs to win this fight. I know American fans, they love knockouts. I think he could possibly get this knockout against Schwarz.
Las Vegas, we fought here in Las Vegas, let me tell you, the hype around this fight, being here, me driving in to Las Vegas, I mean, it got me nervous. It brought back so many feelings, memories of me coming here, traveling on the bus, getting to the MGM Grand, seeing my face on the side of the hotel. You know it’s real when you fight in Vegas.
Tom Schwarz is going to know. He knows right now. He’s having a lot of sleepless nights right now in his hotel room getting prepared for this fight. I think Tyson Fury is going to show the world why he’s the best heavyweight on Saturday night.
Q. Obviously, Ruiz has put his name in the hat as one of the top-heavyweights in the world with his defeat over Joshua. How do you see a matchup against Fury and Ruiz playing out? Does talk of Wilder-Fury II bringing us any close to Terence Crawford versus any top welterweights?
JOE TESSITORE: I think there’s great hope. I’ll answer that first. Obviously once you break through and you have people coming together on the network TV side, the promoter’s side and the advisor-manager side, a lot of this with Wilder and Fury, a lot of credit goes obviously to the promoters involved, but to Shelly Finkel, then folks involved in Top Rank, Creative Artists in L.A.
But, yes, it does give hope. There’s a common sense to it. But I also think that the fighters have to sit there and say to themselves, what fight do I want and what defines me. They’re the ones that have to want it.
I give great credit to Wilder and Fury saying, let’s do this, get this done, find a way. By the way, it’s also going to come truckloads of cash. That doesn’t hurt either.
As for Andy Ruiz, I have great respect for what he accomplished. He earned it. He took the belts. He put forth his game plan. He applied it. He acted like a fighter. He beat down Anthony Joshua.
I would tell you that my opinion is that stylistically and physically being in the ring with Tyson Fury would be a horrible matchup for Andy Ruiz because he would probably be stuck on the end of an 85-inch reach and a 6’9″ man jabbing and boxing. It would probably take the form that should have been Joshua-Ruiz. It will probably be more exaggerated with Fury versus Ruiz.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have great respect for what Ruiz did. He deserves to be a unified champion. Do I consider him one of the top two heavyweights on earth? No, I do not. Do I consider him a worthy champion who earned it? Yes, absolutely.
I think his victory against Joshua actually brings great clarity to the heavyweight division and helps the heavyweight division because it makes the Fury-Wilder rematch I would say universally accepted in everybody’s eyes as determining who is the best heavyweight on earth.
I don’t think anybody would put Andy Ruiz in that conversation. Do you recognize him as a worthy champion? Yes. Do you see him as somebody who can be considered the best heavyweight on earth? No.
TIM BRADLEY.: I agree with Tes (Joe Tessitore). (Indiscernible) makes fights. Ruiz, what he did, was unprecedented. No one, not even myself, thought that he was going to pull off that upset, and he did.
Anything can happen in the heavyweight division. But as Tessitore just said, if he gets in the ring with a guy like Tyson Fury, a guy that knows how to box, a guy that knows how to handle himself on the inside, a guy that uses his feet, his quick hands, and has punching power, and is 6’9″, Ruiz is six foot, if that, he’s going to have to jump up to hit a guy like Tyson Fury.
I think Tyson Fury will beat him easily, and probably even stop a Ruiz, no disrespect in any way, I’m just staying styles make fights.
ANDRE WARD: I would say this about the matchup hypothetically. On paper, like Joe Tessitore just said, stylistically if you look at the numbers, they don’t line up for Ruiz. They didn’t line up for Ruiz in his fight against Joshua.
The difference here is you have a big man in Tyson Fury who the IQ is a lot different than it is for Anthony Joshua. No slight on Anthony. If you really look at it, Joshua has only been fighting 11 years. In my opinion, with everything he’s done as a professional, he’s an overachiever. He doesn’t have the 200, 300 amateur fight background. When you don’t have that pedigree, you haven’t started boxing in your formative years, there’s certain things inside of a ring that can be taught, but there’s certain things that are caught. Certain things from experience you know when to do it, how to do it, where to do it.
You can see certain spots in the fight with Anthony Joshua and Ruiz where Joshua should have asserted himself, he should have used his size to tie Ruiz up, push him back. You see Joshua moving around in the first couple rounds as if he was the smaller man. That’s not going to happen in a fight with Tyson Fury I don’t believe, but I would like to see it.
As far as the welterweight division, of course I hope everything that we’re seeing from the heavyweight division and even the light heavyweight division, the willingness of the other fighters, the other champions, to get inside the ring and face each other to determine a unified or undisputed champion. I hope that that trickles down to the welterweight division on the business side as well as for the fighters.
Here is the thing, said it multiple times, I’ll say it again: There’s a time and a place to marinate the meat. There’s a time and place to cook the meat. If you marinate the meat too long, the meat is no longer good. You have to be sensitive about marinating, building up a fight to make sure that window, the maximum window from a legacy standpoint as well as a monetary standpoint to make the most possible money.
Make no mistake about it, this is prize fighting. The promoters, the networks, the fighters are in this sport to build a legacy, but to get the biggest prize. In order for Errol Spence to get the biggest prize, in my opinion, he has to face Crawford. He can face Shawn Porter, who I have a great deal of respect for. If they fight, it is not going to be an easy fight for either man. He can face Danny Garcia, another fighter have a lot of respect for. That’s not going to be an easy fight.
I believe the biggest payday, legacy stamp for Errol Spence and Terence Crawford, is for them to face each other. I do believe at some point in time, hopefully in the near future, we’ll see that fight.
TIM BRADLEY.: He’s talking about the money, the No. 1 guy in the division. That means a lot. That means a lot to a fighter. I fought Manny Pacquiao three times. What are we waiting for as far as Errol Spence-Terence Crawford fight? That fight can do three fights, you know. They can make a whole lot of money. That’s the fight that everybody wants to see.
I think the start, if we have Wilder fighting against Fury, if we can get that rematch, I think it could possibly open up doors for other big fights. Both sides can meet in the middle. We can make these big fights that everybody wants to see.
ANDRE WARD: I’ll add one more thing. It’s not lost on us that what Spence and Haymon are doing, it’s not lost on us what the game plan is. We get it. They hold most of the welterweight belts. We understand it. We’re not ignorant towards that point and that fact.
That being said, on the surface the strategy is a pretty good one. But neither welterweight, Spence or Terence Crawford, can legitimately call themselves the best welterweight in the world if they don’t face each other. They’re supposed to feel as if they’re the best in the world, but there’s a difference. You can’t ultimately know, you will not know unless you actually lock horns with the other baddest man in the division, on the block, and see who comes out on the other side. You can’t call yourself the best until that happens.
I know Spence and I know Crawford. I believe that ultimately both guys want to get it done, I think they just want to get it done at the right time.
There’s another guy named Keith Thurman that just came back. He’s fighting Manny Pacquiao. I’m picking him to beat Manny. He’s another undefeated guy in his division. Talking to him, he feels he’s the best in the division.
There’s a lot of fights man. I’m telling you, there’s so many great fights in each division right now. Boxing is hot. It’s going to start at the heavyweight division. I hope it dwindles down into the lower weight classes as well.
Q. I was reading some quote from Tyson Fury. He said he liked boxing because boxing makes him happy. I want anybody to comment about what you think about that. Some people, this is a business. He says he wants to keep fighting until he’s 40. Looks like he really enjoys what he’s doing. Also, can you add how much his experience as an amateur boxer helps him now as a professional.
ANDRE WARD: For a fighter, an average person, I’ll start there, that comment sounds crazy. You’re happy getting in a ring and fighting another man. You like to get hit. That’s cool to you. It is. You got to be a little crazy to be a fighter, just a little bit, hopefully not a lot, but just a little bit. We all got a screw or two loose which allows us to take off our robe and have eight- or 10-ounce gloves on, get in the ring and fight another man in front of the whole world.
Even beyond the fighting part, for me it was the gym. I’ve gotten off of some tough phone calls as I’m pulling up to the gym, and for some reason I was able to compartmentalize what I just heard on the phone, go in there and get a two and a half hour workout and be dead to everything else going on in the outside world.
That’s what fighters miss. That’s why you see fighters come back. Now you’re facing life and you don’t really have that out. That’s why they tell retired athletes to find another out, find another passion. I think that’s what he’s talking about as far as that.
Of course, his amateur background in his formative years of learning the sport, fighting at an international level, of course it helped him. There are anomalies. You have Tevin Farmer, guys that started late, somehow he’s showing a skill set as if he had a hundred or two hundred amateur fights. That’s an anomaly, rare case. Typically you see guys that make it to the top, stay there for a long time, they have that amateur pedigree.
TIM BRADLEY.: Like Dre (Andre Ward) said, when I would go into the gym, when you absolutely love something, it’s not a job, it’s not work. It’s fun. It truly is fun.
With Tyson Fury, fighting in in his blood, man. 200 years, bare knuckle fighting, the ‘Gypsy King’ seriously. I’m talking about on both sides. On his mother’s side, on his father’s side, his uncles, nephews, even the girls fought. Everybody fought in his family. Fighting is in his blood.
He’s having fun now. I think before, even when he started his career, he was having fun. So he knows how to fight. This guy is named after Mike Tyson. He was raised watching Ali and Tyson videos. He has the punching power similar to Mike Tyson. He can punch.
Also the hand speed and fluidity, just the movement as a 6’9″, 265-pound heavyweight, super heavyweight, moving, light on his feet, floating around like a butterfly, boy, stinging like a bee. That’s Fury. That’s Tyson Fury.
He’s excited. A lot of money in the sport. He’s made a lot of money. He’s going to continue to make a lot of money. That’s another motivating factor for him. Like I said, fighting is in his blood, man. It’s in his blood.
For me, it was the same way. It was in my blood. I love to fight, but there comes an end. My end came two years ago.
Q. Tim and Andre, from a fighter perspective, when you are a guy coming into the big fight, you’re the underdog, you see two weeks earlier another guy pull off a major upset, does that inspire a little more confidence that anything is possible, you can pull off the upset, or does that not really play a role or a factor in mental preparation for the fight?
TIM BRADLEY.: You’re saying Tom Schwarz is equal to Ruiz?
Q. No, Anthony Joshua being considered by some to be on the same level more or less than Tyson Fury.
TIM BRADLEY.: I say this over and over. Styles make fights. The unexpected is all around us every single day. We don’t even know when we’re going to lose our life. Honestly, you don’t.
I think Schwarz definitely has a puncher’s chance. He has a right hand, packs a right hand. We’ve seen in the past Tyson Fury go down from right hands. We see him go down with Wilder’s right hand. Steve Cunningham knocks him down with a right hand. You also see Fury gets up, he gets up, then he dominates and finishes that round, then he comes back and knocks guys out or he wins the fight.
You see the fight desire in Fury. I think experience alone through his whole career is going to help him in this fight.
Schwarz is big enough, 6’6″, not small, not like Ruiz who is a small heavyweight. He’s big enough. But I think he lacks experience. I think he lacks speed. Like I said, he has a puncher’s chance. He doesn’t have the footwork or the IQ I believe to beat a guy like Tyson Fury.
ANDRE WARD: I’ll say about Ruiz-Joshua, how that could help Schwarz, it should. Him watching that fight obviously being in the division he competes in, Anthony Joshua was a guy that was obviously in the headlines with Tyson Fury a lot, they would possibly meet in a domestic showdown, et cetera. That should motivate Schwarz.
I hope it didn’t take that fight for him to gain the confidence that he needs to beat Tyson Fury. I hope when the contract was signed, that confidence was already in place. He’s going to need every bit of that to upset the apple cart and to dethrone Tyson Fury as the lineal champion.
Of course, that’s inspiration. Those things help. They shouldn’t be the end all, be all. It should be more fuel on his fire that I hope is already burning extremely high with this opportunity that he has.
The stage is set. The table is set for Schwarz. He has to go out there and believe in himself and go out there and do what he has to do, but it’s not going to be easy.
TIM BRADLEY JR.: He better believe in magic, I tell you that.
JOE TESSITORE: I just want to thank everybody for being on. The one thing I would take pause and take one big step back is how refreshing this time in the sport is that we sit here and we can get a full card like this on a streaming service for the coffee I just paid for at Starbucks for an entire month of content on ESPN, rather than companies depending on the economic relief of Pay-Per-View to put forth a major nine-figure deal to sign a fighter like Tyson Fury.
This is better for the fight fan in every way, as what DAZN did a few weeks ago, as what’s going to happen in early 2020 with Top Rank and PBC working together. The sport has saved itself. We’re feeling that right now. This is a great example of how a major star like Fury coming to the States, signing a mega deal, you don’t need the economic relief of Pay-Per-View for a fight against a guy like Schwarz, you can give it to fans who are on an app for the largest sports network in America.