Tyson Fury called Arfan Iqbal “my secret weapon” in his preparations to face David Haye and if the name isn’t familiar yet, it soon could be.
Earlier this month, Iqbal headed to Belgium to spar Fury and his new biggest fan – all 6ft 9ins and 18 stones of him – will be there when the Derby light-heavyweight aims to make it seven wins out of seven in Whitwick next month.
Fury will have a ringside seat at Hermitage Leisure Centre on Sunday, October 13 after promoter Clifton Mitchell added his cousin, unbeaten heavyweight Hughie, to the show.
Fury will also be cheering on Iqbal after sparring “around 70 rounds” with him.
“I was there for three-and-a-half weeks,” said the 22 year-old, “but it feels longer when you spar Tyson Fury every day.
“We sparred four rounds every day and it was tough.
“When I first got there his reactions were slow, but when he sharpened up he had great speed and movement.
“I didn’t expect a guy who stands 6ft 9ins tall and weighs 18 stones to be so fast and mobile.”
Fury has based himself in Belgium with his trainer, and uncle, Peter for his last four fights and Iqbal said: “Essen is in the middle of nowhere.
“The closest shops are a 15-minute drive away. It was just train, train, train and when you finish training all you want to do is sleep.”
Iqbal did have the energy to pick the brains of Fury’s other sparring partners.
Seve Cunningham, who has twice held the IBF cruiserweight title and decked Fury in his last fight, and contender ‘Fast’ Eddie Chambers were also part of the camp and Iqbal said: “They gave me a lot of advice about training and how to throw certain shots. I’ve learned a lot.”
Iqbal looks set for a big season.
He already has a place on a Channel Five-televised show penciled in for November, then Mitchell hopes he will top the bill on a dinner show in Derby before the end of the year.
Iqbal said: “If I keep winning, by the end of the season I should be ready for a shot at a title.”