TYSON FURY split with his trainer and confidant Ben Davison and we thought he would go off the rails.
The 6ft 9in freakishly talented stylist worried all of his fans when he started promising to stand and trade with Deontay Wilder — the most terrifying puncher in the hurt game.
When he predicted a round two knockout — after a career dining out on the smoothest and silkiest of talents — we thought Fury was only trying to con his opponent.
On Friday, when he tipped the scales at a hulking 19st 7lb, even his diehard supporters wondered what their hero and his new team of SugarHill Steward and Andy Lee had been cooking up.
And by the time his bizarre MGM ringwalk was finished, capped off by the haunting Patsy Cline version of Crazy, there were genuine concerns that the bipolar battler was suffering an episode.
But like most elite sports- people, Fury is almost impossible to fully understand.
Sometimes the only thing that seems easy and natural is the most high pressure moment of extreme stress.
Because Fury did not just dethrone the five-year undefeated monster, he slaughtered him after totally transforming his style and smashing the pillow-fisted perception that Wilder and many of his doubters carried.
Gone were the old stick-and-move tactics and out was the showboating.
In was ruthless power, front-foot ring control and dirty boxing, along with ancient dark arts concerned with leaning and holding and squeezing, that teeter on the edge of the law and please nobody on the eye.
The extra 18lb of weight that had looked too saggy around his midriff in pre-fight photos was suddenly firm muscle harnessed perfectly in high shorts.
The new bulk had spread to his arms, which now looked tree-trunk thick. Almost every shot was mean and riddled with intent.
It surely was not possible for low-profile Steward and Irish training novice — yet brilliant former middleweight champion — Lee to rearrange the punch power and fight psychology of a 31-year-old man in the space of just eight weeks.
Old dogs and new tricks do not mix and even the dimmest wit knows you don’t mend the fully functioning.
Yet this training dream team and friendship — forged 15 years ago in Detroit’s iconic Kronk Gym where Lee and Steward trained under SugarHill’s legendary uncle Manny — pulled it off.
Fury could not wait to share the barrage of credit, saying: “My new team worked out for the best, everything we did tonight we set up in the gym.”
Simply convincing Fury that he did have the power to stop his 6ft 7in rival, encouraging him to plant his feet and load up on his punches and remain firmly on the front foot, worked absolute wonders.
The camp was punctuated by some nonsensical tall tales of seven-times-a-day masturbation marathons to boost testosterone and hands being dipped in petrol — always in that order.
They brought needless negative attention and stole focus from the real details.
The employment of a full-time nutritionist in former marine and MMA fighter George Lockhart and a live-in masseuse to cure all aches and pains were clearly masterstrokes.
Crates of Diet Cokes and daily doses of peanut-butter chicken made way for two gallons of water a day and piles of fresh fish, fruit and vegetables that Fury had previously always tried so hard to avoid.
And even the weigh-in shock was apparently a brilliantly elaborate ruse from the Morecambe fighter’s dastardly new corner.
Former coach Davison said: “I believe that was a manufactured weight on the scales. I don’t believe he was that heavy.
“I believe that was part of the mind games going on.
“I know Tyson, I know his body and I do not believe he was that heavy — in fact, I know he was not that heavy.”
Wythenshawe-born Fury sparred more rounds before the bout than he had done in years.
He had no problem revealing that it was the most he had been hit in yonks.
Local American talents and three young British prospects, who were flown in to attack him like Wilder, would eventually fail spectacularly to do as well as his Alabama opponent Wilder did in the ninth and 12th rounds of their original encounter.
Fury Mk 2 is a terrifying thing. He could never lose the almost-ethereal boxing ability with which he has been blessed. He could still make a homing missile miss.
But this reinvention also carried real malice that allowed him to force his will on Wilder so violently that the American’s spirit, left eardrum and resolve were broken inside just three rounds.
The outpourings of praise are not after-timing or backtracking. Those who said Fury was the superior pugilist who had failed to show concussive one-punch power were not wrong.
It’s just that everything about Fury’s rebuilding was so right.
Imagine if David Beckham suddenly had a left foot that was as good as his right, Tiger Woods suppressed his lusting or Jimmy White could finally hold his nerve in a world championship final.
That is the level of seismic improvement Fury showed.
It should not have been possible. But now we know the measure of the man and the quality of the new team around him, it should never have been doubted.