Hughie Fury doesn’t have much luck, or so it seemed when a gaping cut looked capable of ending his hopes in another must-win fight. Only this time, it didn’t happen.
Fury overcame the wound, sustained by an accidental head clash, to outfight and outpoint the veteran contender Mariusz Wach and lay down a marker that he may be still a future heavyweight to fear.
It has already been a hard, gruelling and unforgiving road that Fury has trodden – three defeats along the way had dampened hope that he could be the second member of the family to pick up a world title but suddenly there is real hope again.
When a terrible cut opened above his eye in the fourth round again Wach it was déjà vu – he suffered a similar setback against Kubrat Pulev two years ago and it played a major role in costing him the fight.
This time a genuine display of toughness and willpower (and no little skill, too) saw Fury persevere.
“When he was told to relax after the cut he was a lot better,” said his father and trainer Peter Fury. “He was flowing more.
“He was eager. After the fourth when he settled in, he was better.
“Wach is a genuine gatekeeper to world level. If you are a dud or a phony, you get found out against Wach.”
That much is true. The giant Pole has gone the distance with Wladimir Klitschko and Dillian Whyte, and into the 12th round with Alexander Povetkin. He isn’t someone who goes down easily.
Fury is still just 26 and his tender age is consistently brought up, sometimes to defend the three losses that have stunted his progress.
But he was just 23 when he lost a majority decision to Joseph Parker for the vacant WBO heavyweight title – he was within touching distance on that night of a world title and a collision course with Anthony Joshua.
He was 25 when he gamely accepted a chance to go to Bulgaria to fight Pulev, and last year he took on Povetkin.
These are heavyweights that you don’t fight unless you really need to.
“Hughie still has things to work on,” said Peter Fury. “But one thing is for sure – he fought the best as a kid. Now you see him as a young man.
“There is a difference in him and nobody can dispute that.”
The criticism that is held over Fury is his lack of punch power (only 14 of his 25 wins have been via stoppage) but that is to ignore his footwork, technique, variety and a serious chin which has been tested by elite punchers but has never let him down.
He is more of an Oleksandr Usyk than a Deontay Wilder.
Against Wach there was a new-found aggression too, even when handily ahead on the scorecards and nursing a terrible cut.
“I was very happy with Hughie’s performance,” Peter Fury continued.
“Wach came in the best shape of his career. We saw him against Dillian Whyte, he’s a very stubborn man.
“Believe me, Hughie can hit. The punches Wach was taking? I thought he would go. He looked ready to go at stages.
“He has a hell of a recovery rate, Wach. A big, strong, durable man.
“What Hughie didn’t do? He should have put the shots together, come forward and been lighter with his work. Touched him up, then put the shots in.”
Before his latest win there was talk of targeting the European title which is expected to be vacated by Joe Joyce.
Fury has certainly earned the right not to dive headfirst into the most dangerous possible challenges, which he has done before.
He is no longer merely the younger cousin of Tyson Fury.
“I think Hughie knows he’s come on a lot since then, a young man in a man’s sport,” said Peter Fury.
“He’s mature now and he’s a different fighter. I’ve always said, and he believes the same, if you’re good enough you’ll get there no matter what.
“They have been good learning fights for him, but he’s a different operator today than what he was back then.”
Derek Chisora was mentioned as a possible future opponent and that would certainly be an interesting yardstick for Fury’s progress.
Whoever stands opposite Fury in the ring next year, they will not be taking on the boy who previously fell short. He is a totally different challenge these days.
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