Tyson Fury not only has to beat Tom Schwarz but do so in style, according to his one-time rival David Haye.
The 30-year-old Briton fights for the first time in Las Vegas on Saturday and is a significant favourite to defeat Germany’s Schwarz at the MGM Grand.
If he was not already considered the world's finest heavyweight as a consequence of his performance against Deontay Wilder, when he drew but deserved victory, Fury's reputation has grown further since Anthony Joshua unexpectedly lost to Andy Ruiz Jr.
There is increasing interest in Fury in the US, where following December’s thrilling fight with Wilder he signed a lucrative contract to fight on ESPN and where there is a wider awareness of his struggles with mental health, and it is that growing profile that Haye believes leaves him under pressure to perform.
The Wilder-Fury clash perhaps proved the most entertaining heavyweight fight since the glamour era of the 1990s, but many of the latter’s victories have been so dominant they have struggled for the same drama and there even remains a risk Fury could win all 12 rounds without dropping his opponent once.
“Tom Schwarz just needs to win – on a cut, split decision, however – whereas Fury needs to win in a very classy manner, like you’d expect a world champion to,” said Haye.
"Wilder had the opportunity to prove he was the best [heavyweight] against Dominic Breazeale, and how the fight panned out is how you'd expect the division's number one to beat the number five.
“Anthony Joshua had his chance to prove he was number one against Andy Ruiz Jr, and came heavily unstuck in that fight. This is Fury’s chance – against Wilder, a lot of people think Fury edged that fight and that he’s number one, so he needs a performance that looks that way.
“A jab-and-grab bore-fest isn’t going to be enough. He needs to do something special, and Tom Schwarz is a good fighter who’ll have taken confidence from the big upsets that have happened recently.”
Haye spent time in Fury’s company before a fight that was scheduled to take place between the two in 2013 but was cancelled when Haye suffered a cut while sparring and then a shoulder injury.
At his peak he was masterful in unsettling his opponents, but he had no such success with Fury, and cannot see a mental edge that the 25-year-old Schwarz can pursue.
“It’d be tough to get into Tyson Fury’s head,” he said. “He seems a little unhinged – whether that’s an act . . . He’s mentally strong.
“The fact he took the fight against Wilder as a massive underdog shows his fighting mentality; the fact he got up in the 12th round [after a heavy knockdown] when it’d have been a lot easier to lie there sleeping.
“He woke himself up from a horrendous nightmare of a knockout dream and came back to win the remainder of the round. That’s someone who’s confident; you have to do it to Fury in the ring, whatever you say is going to bounce off him.”