AS Billy Joe Saunders prepares for his July 8 WBO middleweight title fight against Avtandil Khurtsidze, he has had an imposing training partner in former heavyweight kingpin, Tyson Fury.

“Tyson is a good mate of mine we have been friends for years and I suggested to him that he should come out there in Marbella and train with me,” Saunders said. “I told him it would be good to clear his mind completely because the last three months, he’s started to really get back into things.

“I know he is back on the right road and going over to Spain was like putting the icing on top of the cake.

“I’m world champion and I have a fight coming along so he is looking at me training for the fight [and] I’m looking at what he’s done and so we are good for each other – we bounce off each other.”

Saunders can report that Fury is refocusing on his training now, so much so that he won’t even eat a Smint. “He was out there and putting the work in, he had a sweat suit on every day, hot in there in the gym and really put the work in,” Billy Joe said. “He’s being very honest with himself. When we were out there we stopped in a garage to put some fuel in the car and bought some Smints. He was reading the packet and saying he wouldn’t have them because they had too much sugar in.”

Saunders added, “He’s on it. When he’s on it, he’s on it, I’ll give him his due. There wasn’t a day when he wasn’t up early in the morning ready to go out, running in the beach. The first time running he couldn’t run two miles. Then he got up to five, so he is definitely improving. Everything is there with Tyson, it just needs putting back together. Everything is there nothing is missing.

“Never once did he have quit in him.”

Billy Joe has seen Fury in a dark place but says, “Now I have no concerns about him at all.”

Tyson Fury

He explained, “We grew up in the same sport with the same background. There have been times when I’ve had enough and been sick of it. I told him that. We’ve sat down and had a chat and go through things. It all comes down to there being only one thing for him and that’s to box. He is good for the sport, I reckon, and it would be a shame to see it taken away from him for nothing.

“We go through what we’ve been through and what he’s been through and how he’s come through it and what he has done and what he hasn’t done and where he went wrong, really. The same with myself. They are deep conversations but it worked. He seemed to understand after a few days. He got in training and he hasn’t looked back.”

Billy Joe points out that there is a side to Fury the public doesn’t see, “You only see the media side of Tyson, what the man puts out there. When you know him personally, if he was to show that side, he’d be loved more than Anthony Joshua, honestly.”

Saunders is back from Spain and will continue training with Adam Booth in England. He is focused on his next challenger, Khurtsidze. “I always favoured him a little bit over Tommy, but I thought Tommy, with home advantage, a bit of boxing brain, could have seen him through, but it wasn’t the case. He was winning on points. When he finally did settle him down, he got a little bit careless, exiting with his hands down. He came out with his chin over front foot, hands down, and you can’t do that,” Billy Joe said.

“But it is what it is. Beating a fellow Brit, I want to get one back for him.”