Hughie Fury and Kubrat Pulev go toe to toe this Saturday in an IBF world title eliminator. With the small matter of a future bout against Anthony Joshua up for grabs – and a shot at capturing a heavyweight crown – there’s plenty worth fighting for.
Written off by many as merely ‘the other Fury’, Hughie has the opportunity to step out of cousin Tyson’s sizeable shadow. It’s not as if the man doesn’t have pedigree. He won the world youth championship – the first UK boxer to do so – and holds the British heavyweight belt.
Trained by father Peter – mastermind of that night in Dusseldorf when Tyson tore the titles from Wladimir Klitschko – Hughie has already had a tease of world heavyweight glory. Coming up short against former WBO champ Joseph Parker in 2017, Fury felt he had done enough, only to lose a tight decision to the busier New Zealander.
Blessed with plenty of ring nous, combined with a height and reach advantage against Pulev, Fury has the tools at his disposal to triumph against the Bulgarian behemoth. His work rate ultimately costing him against Parker, he’ll need not to make the same mistake again.
Staying behind the jab, boxing clever and winning on points? It worked well for the other Fury against a different eastern European giant. Nothing wrong with following a shadow before stepping out of it.
The durable Pulev is the favourite on Saturday. Fighting in his native Bulgaria for only the third time in his pro career, the Cobra has more than home advantage in his favour. A better-quality ring resume and more bouts mean Fury has it all to do as the away fighter.
With a record of 25 and 1, Pulev’s only loss came against Wladimir Klitschko in his last world title tilt back in 2014. Outclassed and outfought – hitting the canvas three times in five rounds – five wins on the bounce have brought him back into contention.
The Bulgarian was meant to face Joshua last year, only for a shoulder injury to scupper the scheduled fight. Having not fought since a one-sided points victory against Kevin Johnson in April 2017, Pulev will be hoping ring rust doesn’t make him seize up on the night. He has good reason not to. A loss this weekend will see his world title aspirations shatter like a glass chin.
With the crowd on his side, coupled with a consistent work rate and heavy right hand, many feel it’s Pulev’s fight to lose.
Odds correct at time of publication. Subject to change.
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