Tyson Fury shocked the boxing world in Las Vegas in February with in incredible performance to crush Deontay Wilder and claim the WBC world heavyweight title. And much of the credit goes to his new trainer Javan ‘SugarHill’ Steward.
‘SugarHill’, who grew up learning from his uncle – the late great Emanuel Steward – at Detroit’s legendary Kronk gym, along with Andy Lee was the mastermind behind Fury’s transformation from elusive boxer to destructive puncher as he blasted Wilder to a seventh-round TKO. In the process he delivered the first defeat of Wilder’s professional career.
Now ‘SugarHill’ has spoken to the Black Eye Barber Shop Show – with Richard Poxon and Anthony Crolla asking the questions – to give the inside story on how his partnership with Fury came about, how they dethroned Wilder, and the potential for a megafight against Fury’s fellow Brit Anthony Joshua.
‘SugarHill’ on training Tyson Fury
How the relationship with Fury came about
“Yeah I was surprised. Andy Lee actually called me first and asked me if I was interested because him and Tyson were talking. I was supposed to call Tyson that day later on but I didn’t. Tyson called me first thing the next morning. The boys was back again. I was like: ‘We can do this’ but I wanted to make sure Andy was involved as well as we are all close. He was the one that brought us together, made that bridge with the communication.
“But it was good for us all three of us to be back together again and to go out and win that world championship, in that Kronk fashion, that knockout fashion.”
‘SugarHill’ on Fury changing his style for Wilder rematch
“There was gonna be no back foot fighting. Okay back up, that’s fine, but let’s go back and forward again. It wasn’t gonna be go back and wait. It was just gonna be aggressive, that Kronk style, go get him. What are you watiing for? You’re the biggest man in the division, the biggest man in boxing. You should be running this thing.
“He (Fury) agreed, whatever I told him, he believed in. He was like: ‘You know what, you’re right, it makes sense’. Everything I said. It wasn’t just that he was keeping him on the end of his punches, he was on the end of the punches in the middle and up close – everything. And that was just the beginning, that was only with four weeks of work. After four weeks he was ready to fight After that I didn’t do anything more to him. No need to overload him with anything. That was enough, just four weeks work together. It’s not like we’d been together for years. What did I need to give him for right now to make him look sensational? And that’s what I did at that point.
“I say that’s what I did. But I’m always gonna say it doesn’t matter what I think or what I’m feeling we should do. It’s gotta be a equal effort. You can tell a fighter to do it, if he doesn’t do it, it don’t mean nothing. Whether I had the perfect gameplan or not, that fighter has to believe in you and accept that and he has to execute it.
“As far as being a trainer and being able to say ‘well I came up with this masterplan’, well I’ve done that for everybody, but whether they listen or not is a totally different answer. They have to be able to listen for it to be successful. So it’s not just the fighter, it’s not just the coach, it’s both of them. They have to be on the same parallel, the same land, the same level, everything.
‘SugarHill’ on Fury’s TKO of Wilder
“It felt good. It was just a reminder of what Kronk means to boxing and its history. And it’s not going anywhere. This is what people want to see, this is what brings in the big money, is fights like that, styles like that. Attitude like that, not just bouncing and dancing around and stuff like that.
“Nobody wants to see the biggest man in boxing dance and prance and be popping off all these combinations off, and he ain’t knocking nobody out. Now if you was the littlest guy in boxing, and you doing that, we can accept that. As the biggest man in boxing, you’re not taking it to somebody and pulverising them? That’s what we want to see.”
‘SugarHill’ on Wilder excuses after Fury rematch
“I think I should just keep my mouth closed. It’s all just opinions anyway, so there’s no need for my opinion. Now amongst my friends I would voice my opinion, but as far as being out here with you guys, I am still professional. What I might say to one of my boys in the gym, I’m gonna say it differently to when I’m gonna say it with you guys, because we just talking but now I have to be totally correct. I have to think.
“If those excuses are things he felt he did wrong then I have to accept that. There’s things I’ve thought I should have changed or could have changed after a loss, so I can’t just sit there and say ‘oh that’s bulls***t what he’s talking about’.
“A lot of things affect people mentally that you don’t really understand in boxing. It’s a lot of mental. If something mentally is off that can affect a fighter greatly, but the outside people, and most people, don’t think of it that way. They just wanna think of it as ‘oh he’s making excuses’.
“Everybody is injured as an athlete when they are out there in competition. Every athlete. If you ain’t injured, you ain’t training. So everybody goes out there with something wrong with them, but you can’t come back and say that’s your excuse. You can’t do that, you’re out there to perform and do your job, and that’s it.”
‘SugarHill’ on Fury vs Joshua
“The big fight I’d like to see, is the biggest fights in boxing history. The two Brits. I’d like to see the two Brits, and Tyson Fury unifying and being undisputed as Lennox Lewis was back in the day. So that’s what I would like to see.
“If there are other fights before that, then those fights would be interesting, But let’s do it Kronk and let’s do it Emanuel Steward style with the biggest fights in history. And getting the knockout!”