Billy Joe Saunders has told talkSPORT he feared for Tyson Fury’s life when he was at the depths of his depression.
The returning heavyweight is set for his second comeback fight against Francesco Pianeta in Belfast this weekend, and, if he wins, he will likely challenge Deontay Wilder for the WBC world title.
However, Saunders told the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast he is surprised his friend made it this far, and at times questioned whether the ‘Gypsy King’ would even survive his well-documented ordeal.
“He’s a good family man and I think that all these training camps, all the pressure of these fights, contracts and obligations. You know, it all catches up,” the WBO middleweight champion explained.
“For some people it all catches up to them at once. I think that’s what happened to Tyson.
“The path he went down with the drug binges and the drink and the depression… To be honest with you, you know Tyson’s my best mate and I feared for his life, I really did.”
The 28-year-old, who makes his next middleweight title defence on October 20 against unbeaten American slickster Demetrius Andrade, continued by addressing abuse Fury received online.
“When people were giving him stick… Listen, I’m the worst for getting on social media and giving people a bit of stick, but I don’t mind it and I can take it back.
“At that time he was under deep depression, I mean severe depression.
“He was talking about being back as the king of the jungle one minute and then he was talking about committing suicide the next.
“I’d love for him to write a book how I’ve seen it, to let the public know how he was and what he’s come back to do, just to get in the ring alone
“With Tyson, the most happy he is, is in the boxing ring.”
Regarding the proposed Wilder bout, Saunders gave his seal of approval and insisted that Fury would be able to beat the American to become champion once again.
He divulged that Fury’s cerebral state is the defining factor as to whether he will be able to claim the WBC belt.
What time is Carl Frampton vs Luke Jackson? Start time, undercard and TV channel
David Haye reveals the real reason for Tyson Fury's comeback
KING IS BACK
What time is Tyson Fury vs Francesco Pianeta? Undercard, TV info and venue
Carl Frampton talks building bridges ahead of upcoming bout at Windsor Park
Tyson Fury admits he could walk away from boxing at any time
Anthony Joshua vs Alexander Povetkin: Live commentary and details
Five major boxing bouts we could still see in 2018 including Wilder v Fury
Deontay Wilder uses Mike Tyson to defend recent controversial comments
IT WILL HAPPEN
Fury reveals when Wilder fight should be finalised, slams Joshua and Hearn
Tyson Fury: I’m the best boxer in the world, greatest heavyweight ever
Wilder v Breazeale: Challenger responds with bitter, personal attack
Wilder makes horrifying statement about fighter's children, Fury responds
“With Tyson it’s a mental thing more than anything else. If he gets in his head that he’s gonna box Wilder, there’s not anybody [who’s] gonna stop him thinking that.
“He’s taking that fight for a reason. He wants to get back at the top as fast as he can. If that’s the fastest route, then I support him all the way.
“I believe that when Tyson has to pick it up ten notches, he’ll pick it up ten.”