Sparring partner Rico Verhoeven on training with Tyson Fury ahead of Klitschko clash

Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury pose during a news conference in Duesseldorf. Picture: AP/Bernd Lauter
Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury pose during a news conference in Duesseldorf. Picture: AP/Bernd Lauter

World kickboxing champion Rico Verhoeven talks sparring Tyson Fury ahead of Klitschko clash

I always enjoy coming to England and hooking up with the Furys.

They feel like family to me. It’s very natural. It doesn’t matter how long I’ve been away, every time I come here it feels like home.

We met about three years ago. They had a training camp in Belgium right on the border of Holland.

It was really close. They were getting a lot of Dutch guys in for sparring but the sparring was turning out to be a real problem. Most of the guys they were sparring would quit or be sent away after one session. They all thought, no way, this is not for us.

You’ve got one of the best boxers in Europe at the time knocking their heads off with just the jab. It was crazy. They weren’t used to it. For us, as kickboxers, it’s totally different to what we’re used to.

So, back then my trainer hooked us up with them and we started doing some sparring.

Tyson closed both my eyes inside the first four rounds, which was quite a feat considering we were wearing head guards.

Tyson Fury World Championship countdown

He definitely surprised me. After four rounds my trainer said, “Look, he’s a big guy, he’s now going to start getting tired.” He told me to speed up. Already both my eyes were closed. I couldn’t see a lot. But I still thought I was going to speed up.

It never happened. After four rounds, Tyson changed southpaw! I had four rounds of him fighting me orthodox and then he turned southpaw on me. I couldn’t believe it.

I got my respect from them as well. I was different to the other fighters they found in Holland. I just kept coming.

A lot of people on the outside say Tyson is this and Tyson is that. He’s too big, too slow, he can’t do this, he can’t do that.

Stand in front of him, that’s all I say. Then come and tell me he’s lacking in this department or that department. If you stand in front of this guy, he’ll knock your head off. He’s so gifted it’s crazy.

For a man of his size – so big, so heavy – he can move so well. He’ll be backing up against the ropes and I’ll think, right, now I’m going to take his head off!

But then he’ll just step to the side and I almost fall out of the ring. I think, how the does he do that? He’s leaning on the back leg and is still able to move sideways.

It really is crazy. He’s so skilled. He’s a natural. Orthodox or southpaw, it doesn’t matter. It’s amazing to watch him at times.

All in all, I have a good feeling about his chances going into this fight with Wladimir Klitschko. I think he has a very good chance of winning.

Wladimir Klitschko v Tyson Fury on October 24 at the ESPRIT Arena in Dusseldorf is live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Tyson Fury World Championship countdown