Tyson Fury vs. Tom Schwarz fight prediction, start time, odds, undercard, expert pick, date, record
Fury returns to the ring for the first time on Saturday since the infamous draw with Deontay Wilder
In the wild aftermath of Andy Ruiz Jr.'s June 1 knockout of unified champion Anthony Joshua that turned the division upside down, one could argue the most prestigious title that any heavyweight currently holds is still the lineal championship adorned to Tyson Fury's name.
Not only did Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) become the "guy who beat the guy who beat the guy" when he upset Wladimir Klitschko in 2015, most observers felt Fury had done enough to outpoint unbeaten WBC champion Deontay Wilder in their exciting and disputed draw last December.
"The only title that I care about is the lineal championship of the world," Fury said. "It goes back a long, long way, and that's the one I'm defending with pride and honor."
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Fury, a 6-foot-9 native of England who completed a miraculous turnaround in 2018 following a two-year slide into depression, obesity and drug abuse, enters the first fight of his new co-promotional deal with Top Rank on Saturday with the opportunity for the ESPN marketing machine to further connect his jovial personality with casual American sports fans.
No, this isn't a fight where the outcome appears necessarily in doubt as Fury enters the ESPN+ main event (10 p.m. ET) at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas as high as a 20-1 favorite against the unheralded German Tom Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs). Yet there's still a certain amount of pressure upon Fury to put on a show and win emphatically as a way to make a statement regarding his standing within the division.
At just 30, Fury still has the potential to define this heavyweight renaissance era as his own provided he's willing to make the biggest fights against the best names regardless of their promotional or network status. The fact that Wilder announced two weeks ago that the two have signed on for a spring 2020 rematch seems to be a positive sign in that direction.
What Fury must avoid on Saturday, however, is making his ESPN debut into more of a farce than an actual fight. During a pair of comeback bouts in 2018 against Sefer Seferi and Francesco PIaneta, fans witnessed an almost disinterested version of Fury who, given the vast difference in skill between him and his opponents, was content to clown and box from the outside.
Should the 25-year-old Schwarz prove quite early that he's no match for Fury's unique blend of speed and footwork for a fighter of his size, the onus will fall on Fury to actually finish Schwarz and make this little exhibition worth while for ESPN's investment on the road to bigger fights.
"I'm ready to shock the world," Schwarz said. "This is a great time in the heavyweight division, and I am happy to be part of it. On Saturday night, it's my time. I am prepared. Tyson Fury picked me for a reason, and I promise a great fight, a dramatic fight and a memorable moment for all boxing fans.
"I have a surprise for Tyson Fury, and I will show it on Saturday. I take inspiration from German heavyweights of the past, including Max Schmeling. It might be time for a German heavyweight to shock the world again."
Fury, whom co-promoter Bob Arum has said will likely look for a fall return before the promotion for a Wilder rematch begins, says he's in a happy place mentally after years of turmoil, and points to his ability to get up from two knockdowns against the hard-punching Wilder as proof of his resolve.
"I think it was a higher power that brought me to my feet to spread the word on mental health and to help other people," Fury said. "I hope it inspired many people as I enjoyed getting up off that canvas and fighting on. And it takes more than a punch to knock me down and make me stay down.
"I box because I like to keep happy and it keeps me happy to fight. I plan to box until I can't box anymore. I feel fantastic at the minute. Boxing keeps me really happy, and I'm very happy with where I am in my life at the minute. I want to box on. I don't see myself retiring. I just turned 30 years old. I've got over 10 years left in this game, so you'll have to keep seeing me for the next 10 years, I'm afraid. Keep entertaining, keep putting on great shows."
Also featured on the card is former super middleweight champion Jesse Hart making the move up to light heavyweight when he challenges Sullivan Barrera. Hart is coming off a majority decision loss to Gilberto Ramirez in December while Barrera scored a unanimous decision win over Sean Monaghan in November. Barrera (22-2) has only suffered losses to elite competition in Dimitry Bivol and Andre Ward.
Plus, it's the return of one of Top Rank's most prized prospects as Mikaela Mayer takes on Lizbeth Crespo in a featured bout. She's won three straight bouts by unanimous decision and holds two knockouts in her 10-fight career. Crespo is 13-4 in her career, and 7-1 in her last eight.
Fury vs. Schwarz fight card
Tyson Fury -2000
Tom Schwarz +900
Lineal heavyweight title
Jesse Hart -250
Sullivan Barrera +190
Fury vs. Schwarz prediction
With all due respect to Schwarz, whose only times fighting outside of his native Germany were a pair of wins in the Czech Republic, he hasn't fought anyone remotely as talented or experienced as Fury. To make things worse for Schwarz, there simply aren't any other heavyweights quite like the self-proclaimed "Gypsy King," whose 85-inch reach and ability to switch stances on the fly make him difficult to properly prepare for.
If Fury was able to snake charm such an experienced technician as Klitschko and such a dangerous slugger as Wilder with his daring style, it's hard to imagine the plodding Schwarz catching up with him. The only question here is whether Fury will sit down on his punches enough to try and finish Schwarz. Pick: Tyson Fury via UD12
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