Tyson Fury's battle against depression had become so severe that his close friend Billy Joe Saunders feared the undefeated world heavyweight champion was on the verge of a suicide attempt.
Saunders felt compelled to act and believed Fury's only salvation from drink, drugs and his demons would be boxing.
So in April last year, the middleweight from Hatfield invited his 'best mate' on a training camp with him in Marbella. Fury, by then weighing around 28st, agreed.
It was there, on the south coast of Spain, that the self-styled Gypsy King met little-known trainer Ben Davison.
The former amateur boxer, who counts James DeGale among his old sparring partners, had been working alongside Saunders in some capacity since 2012 and even took his corner for his 2016 world title defence against Artur Akavov.
He was therefore part of the team once again last May as Saunders flew to Spain to prepare for his fight against Willie Monroe later in the year.
The story goes that Fury, 30, spotted Davison's prowess holding pads for the boxers in the MTK gym in Marbella and instantly predicted that he would be one of the world's top coaches within five years.
“I was boxing a bit myself when I started doing a bit of work with Billy Joe,” Davison told The Independent.
“Little by little that relationship grew and we started working together in 2012 when he fought Jarrod Fletcher.
“I have learned a lot from him but overall I've spent a lot of good time around a lot of good coaches. I have taken the best bits from their assets and blended it into my own style.”
So impressed was Fury, who lost around two stone over the course of the camp, that the 6ft 9in former WBA, WBO and IBF champion decided he wanted Davison to be his trainer as he plotted a route back to the heavyweight throne.
Having formed an almost instant friendship, Fury says that Davison formally cemented the role after an unusual challenge outside a Puerto Banus coffee shop. As two bikini-clad women walked past their table, Fury told Davison that he could have the job if he returned with both of their phone numbers.
A couple of minutes later, the grinning Londoner came back to the table waving a slip of paper and the appointment was complete. He has since masterminded a quite incredible fat-camp, which has resulted in Fury, who takes on Francesco Pianeta in Belfast on Saturday, shedding more than nine stone.
To put that into context, that is more than the entire mass of featherweight Carl Frampton, who tops the bill at sold-out Windsor Park against Australian Luke Jackson.
Of course, getting weight off a fighter is one thing, but guiding them to the pinnacle of the sport is another. And, with only Fury's bizarre June comeback against Sefer Seferi to go by, the jury is still very much out on Davison's ability to succeed the heavyweight's uncle Peter as trainer.
“I don't really care what people say or think about me,” Davison added when asked if he feels like he has a point to prove.
“People will say what they want to say. If people want an opinion on me, the best thing to do is to speak to the fighters I've worked with. Get a review from them.
“Actions speak louder than words and I'm very confident that any fighter that I've worked with will give more-than-positive feedback.
“People will always have an opinion whether it's good, bad, right or wrong. I take the rough with the smooth and don't really pay attention to any of it. I just focus on what I've got to do.”
So far that has meant the young man, who is not yet 30, 'dedicating his life' to Fury.
“It's hard work to be honest,” he said.
“I've been away from home for eight months now. In fact I've been at home for a total of two weeks in the past eight months, including Christmas.
“But to help him and play my role in getting him back from where he was, it has taken that sacrifice. I have had to dedicate my whole life towards it and it has definitely been worth it – but it's hard work.
“It doesn't come easy but what worth having does?” Pianeta is not expected to provide too much resistance for an in-shape and focused Fury, who weighed in at 18st 6lb; 1st 4lb lighter than he was against Seferi two months back.
And victory will set up a colossal winter showdown with WBC champion Deontay Wilder, which will provide Fury a chance to get his hands back on some heavyweight hardware and Davison an opportunity to prove his credentials once and for all.
Wilder, who is in Belfast this weekend, rocked up at the weigh-in and almost ended up in a brawl with Fury's father, John. Both men know, however, that everyone stands to make millions should the heavyweight duo meet legitimately later this year.
Davison said: “The most dangerous fight out there in world boxing is Deontay Wilder. You can out-box him for 11 and a half rounds but then he finishes the fight with one shot.
“We've sat and watched these fighters – Wilder, Anthony Joshua – the potential rivals that Tyson has. We've watched these guys together and had discussions about how to beat them.
“But at the end of the day, my game plan is what we go with. What I say goes. It's my job to know what needs to be done with the potential rivals.
“We've got an idea of what we'll do in these fights but we're not going to talk too much about these people because we've got Francesco Pianeta to take care of first.”
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3 June 2018
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