British heavyweight champion Hughie Fury is next in line to face Kubrat Pulev in a final eliminator for the IBF heavyweight title, following the latter’s failure to secure a deal with undefeated Brooklyn-born contender Jarrell “Big-Baby” Miller.
The mooted date for the clash between the pair will be October 27th, and will take place in the Bulgarian’s home city of Sofia.
Fury, born in Stockport but fighting out of Bolton, came up short last September in his first World title challenge against WBO champion Joseph Parker at the Manchester Arena. In a somewhat scrappy, messy affair where neither fighter produced a significant amount of clean work, Fury was on the receiving end of a majority decision verdict that was hotly disputed by numerous ringside pundits.
As a result, his trainer Peter Fury describes his charge as an “uncrowned World champion”, and the uncle-nephew duo rebounded in May with a fifth-round stoppage to dethrone British heavyweight champion Sam Sexton, in an impressive performance where many believed Fury displayed the physical strength and power that wasn’t as evident in his showing against the New Zealander.
Most, if not all roads now lead to Anthony Joshua, the man who now holds the WBA, WBO and IBF championships. Joshua, incidentally, was scheduled to face Pulev last October, who was forced to withdraw as the result of an injury and was subsequently replaced by tenacious Frenchman Carlos Takam, who was stopped controversially in the tenth round.
Like Fury, Pulev’s sole defeat came in his first World title challenge against Wladimir Klitschko in November 2014. The Bulgarian started the contest in positive fashion, buzzing Klitschko with a jab in the opener, but his aggressiveness became his undoing as he was knocked down repeatedly throughout five rounds before eventually being knocked out by a savage left hook.
In recent years, Pulev – an accomplished amateur representing Bulgaria in international tournaments – has racked up victories over Dereck Chisora, Samuel Peter, and Kevin Johnson, but his recent career has been blighted by inactivity and injuries.
Naturally, it’s reasonable to expect Fury as the younger, fresher fighter with the superior hand speed and the height advantage, to be capable of defeating Pulev and putting himself in prime position for a second world title shot.
However, Pulev still remains a solid, experienced operator and arguably possesses one of the best jabs in the heavyweight division. As the fight is likely to take place in Sofia or Germany – a crucial factor which reportedly prevented Jarrell Miller from accepting the fight – Fury must also be conscious of the possibility of home cooking, and whether his movement-orientated approach will be looked upon favourably by the judges overseas.
Article by: Navi Singh
Follow Navi on Twitter at: @hombre__obscuro