LAS VEGAS — Tom Schwarz’s body language made it clear he wanted to be done with interviews. He attended a public workout at the MGM Grand to promote his fight on ESPN+ on Saturday with lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.
But he offered little information about himself, mostly because the people around him seemed petrified by what he might say and seemed as if they were trying to get him out of there quickly.
It wasn’t until a reporter asked Schwarz which boxers had inspired him that his personality emerged from behind a blank stare.
Schwarz fidgeted, thought for a second and, with a straight face, said Vinny Paz. Paz, who was born Vinny Pazienza in 1962 in Cranston, Rhode Island, was 50-10 in a pro career that stretched from 1983 through 2004. But he was a curious choice for a 25-year-old German heavyweight who fought all but two of his pro bouts in Germany. The other two were in the Czech Republic.
Before he could be quizzed on why he liked Paz, he added Floyd Mayweather’s name to the list. That wasn’t so surprising, because Mayweather is the dominant boxer of this era and one of the most popular fighters of all time.
After listing Paz and Mayweather, Schwarz beamed.
“I love Conor McGregor,” Schwarz said of the former UFC champion. “The best guy, yeah. In the fight and outside the ring, I love Conor McGregor so much. He is the best UFC fighter.”
Of course, we had to know why he loved McGregor and he basically said at home in Germany, he’s the German version of the flamboyant McGregor.
“I do this in Germany,” he said in English of McGregor’s news conference antics that garner him so much attention. “Half of Germany loves me, but half of them hates me.”
His interpreter, who had been doing his best to have Schwarz avoid any and all interviews, immediately added, “That is a joke.”
Schwarz understood him and gave the man some side eye before shaking his head “no” at reporters to indicate it wasn’t a joke.
Oddsmakers seem to regard Schwarz’s presence in the main event Saturday as something of a joke. Fury, who is 27-0-1 and coming off a compelling split draw with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, is a 40-1 favorite.
Top Rank passed on an opportunity to make an immediate rematch after signing Fury, wanting to give him a pair of tuneup fights in the U.S. to better acquaint him with the American audience.
So far, the plan is working to perfection. Fury has been brilliant and capped a great week on Wednesday when he grabbed the microphone before the start of the final news conference and basically went into a standup routine.
It was hysterical stuff, and Schwarz was cracking up when Fury brought him on stage.
But promoter Bob Arum said Schwarz isn’t as big of a long shot as oddsmakers are making him out to be. Arum compared Schwarz to Andy Ruiz Jr., who upset Anthony Joshua on June 1 in New York to win the IBF-WBA-WBO heavyweight titles.
“I’m not saying he’s going to win the fight, but the guy can fight,” Arum said angrily. “He’s no joke. He has a better chance against Fury to win this fight going in than Ruiz did against Joshua. It’s disrespectful, and it’s really ignorant of what is going on in this sport, to say he’s some kind of a bum. The media, the fans, oddsmakers, whoever is saying that, they’re saying it because they haven’t seen him and they don’t know. And so it’s kind of arrogant to think that just because you haven’t seen him he can’t fight.
“He’s a good fighter. He’s a big, strong guy. Boxing is an international sport and you guys only want to pay attention to what is going on in the United States. In the U.S., most of the great heavyweights are playing in the NFL. But in Europe, in other parts of the world, there are a lot of talented big men fighting.”
Schwarz fights frequently with his left hand low, which should create an opening for Fury’s jab. Schwarz has been full of praise for Fury and repeatedly called him the greatest.
“Best heavyweight in the world,” Schwarz said of the champion.
Schwarz, though, doesn’t give off the vibe of a guy who is just showing up for a paycheck. He looks to be in excellent shape and he’s saying all the right things about the long odds against him.
He’s 24-0 with 16 knockouts but has fought weak opposition. He’s undaunted, though, and said he’s coming to win, not just show up.
“It sounds stupid all the time talking about an underdog and saying he has no chance,” Schwarz said. “Let me repeat it: Yeah, I have a chance. That’s the reason I’ve taken this fight. My life is boxing. I’ve done all of this to get to this moment on Saturday, and I will show everybody it’s possible to beat this guy.”
Somewhere in Ireland, McGregor is probably kicking back a shot of Proper 12 whiskey and smiling as he hears those words.
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