This is a golden age of British heavyweights, with Anthony Joshua, Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte featuring highly in most people’s divisional rankings. Waiting in the wings behind these three lies Tyson Fury’s cousin Hughie, who makes his second foray into world class level prizefighting this Saturday in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, against national hero Kubrat Pulev. The fight is an eliminator for the IBF title held by Anthony Joshua.
Much like his older cousin, Fury is exceptionally quick of hand and foot for such a big man, although he has received criticism for his lack of aggression and power. Despite frustrating Joseph Parker for twelve rounds in his WBO title tilt last September, it was the Kiwi’s greater volume and harder punching which saw him eke out a majority decision. Missing out on what was a very good opportunity to pick up a world title was a massive disappointment for the Mancunian, however, now at the age of 24 and with that experience under his belt, Fury should be ready to kick on. He showed signs of improvement in winning the British title in his last fight, throwing more and putting more into his punches than he had in previous fights, albeit against an opponent in Sam Sexton who is far less of a threat than the likes of Parker and Pulev.
Local boy Pulev is a former amateur standout (winning world bronze in 2005 and European gold three years later), and his style reflects that. Like many leading Eastern Bloc amateurs before him, he works well off his excellent jab, although he is rather stiff in his movement and utilises little head movement. He has been in and around the top 10 at heavyweight for the best part of a decade, racking up solid wins over the likes of Tony Thompson and Dereck Chisora, however, he has been inactive of late. Pulev’s last fight was a routine win over Kevin Johnson last April, before a shoulder injury put paid to his IBF mandatory shot at Anthony Joshua a year ago. For a fighter who is now 37 years of age, this perhaps spells danger, especially against a younger, fresher fighter.
This should be a real acid test of where Hughie Fury stands in the division. Has he really improved as a fighter, or has the Sexton fight merely flattered him? I believe it is a fight Fury has the tools to win, especially given the two fighters’ respective ages. However, in what is sure to be a hostile atmosphere in his opponent’s backyard, Fury cannot afford to leave things to chance like he did against Parker, or else he may find himself with a lot of work to do to reestablish himself as a contender.
Pulev vs Fury will be LIVE on Channel 5 in the UK from 9pm.