By Keith Idec
LOS ANGELES – Freddie Roach was surprised by Tyson Fury’s power and overall boxing ability once he began working with the unbeaten British heavyweight last month.
Fury’s strength so impressed the International Boxing Hall of Fame trainer that Roach is sure Fury is an even bigger puncher than the knockout artist he’ll challenge Saturday night at Staples Center.
In fact, Roach believes Fury can knock out Wilder in the first round of their scheduled 12-round, Showtime Pay-Per-View fight for Wilder’s WBC heavyweight title ($74.99 in HD; 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT).
That outcome would shock plenty of people, but not Roach. Fury has discussed taking that aggressive approach against Wilder (40-0, 39 KOs) as soon as their fight starts, a strategy Roach realizes could be dangerous for his 6-feet-9 fighter.
“He asked me, ‘Can I knock him out in the first round?,’ ” Roach told BoxingScene.com following a press conference Wednesday at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel & Suites. “And I said, ‘Well, it’s probably not the best idea in the world. But yes, you can.’ He says, ‘Well, why don’t we?’ And I said, ‘Well, why don’t we just box him, break him down a little bit and then knock him out?’ And he says, ‘Well, that takes time.’ I said, ‘That’s true.’ He says, ‘I’m ready to go. I’m anxious.’ I didn’t take [that option] away from him. I didn’t give it to him. I believe he can do it if he wants to.”
The 30-year-old Fury (27-0, 19 KOs) has knocked out three opponents in the first round since he turned pro in December 2008. He hasn’t recorded a first-round knockout since his 10th fight, in which he stopped Hans-Joerg Blasko in March 2010.
Wilder has 17 first-round knockouts on his record, including a three-knockdown destruction of Bermane Stiverne in their rematch a year ago at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
That first-round knockout disparity aside, Roach has been impressed by Fury since Ben Davison, Fury’s head trainer, asked Roach to work with them after Fury moved his training camp from Abel Sanchez’s gym in Big Bear Lake, California, to Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood.
“He’s very quick,” Roach said. “He’s got great footwork. He moves very well. He’s very fluid. I’ve had him box 12 rounds three times during camp and he’s in great shape. He’s not even breathing hard. He’s got very quick hands, also, and he’s a much bigger puncher than people realize. He doesn’t always throw hard, but when he wants to he can throw. And he’s faster with his feet [than Wilder] and I think he can beat Wilder to the shot. I think I have a better puncher, actually. When he wants from the southpaw side, he’s very dangerous.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.