It’s a classic match-up of youth v experience, as Britain’s Hughie Fury (21-1) prepares to take on Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev (25-1) in an IBF heavyweight title eliminator this Saturday.
As former Heavyweight world title challengers, both fighters will be hoping to win the title eliminator, and become the mandatory challenger for the IBF heavyweight belt currently held by World Champion Anthony Joshua.
[Fury knocks out Sam Sexton to claim the British Heavyweight Title]
Hughie, cousin of former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, has only had one previous attempt at a world title. Back in September 2017 he succumbed to a controversial points defeat against former WBO Champion, New Zealand’s Joseph Parker. Earlier this year, Fury claimed a confident looking victory against Briton, Sam Sexton, to lift the British heavyweight title. At the time, he spoke to the BBC to echoing his determination to win a world title:
"I dream to be a world champion. Whoever has got those belts - I'm coming. Although I lost [to Parker], I'm coming. I'm ready to fight."
A typically defensive fighter, Fury will be looking for a confident KO in Sofia. There’s no denying that a points victory, in Pulev’s hometown will be nigh on impossible, however the British heavyweight title holder is won’t let the pressure get to him:
“Fighting outside the UK doesn’t bother me at the end of the day, there are only two people in the ring, so it doesn’t matter where the fight is taking place.
There’s no pressure on my side. If anything, there’s more pressure for him to perform in his own backyard.
[Fury with his cousin, former Heavyweight World Champion, Tyson Fury]
“People might look at me and ask ‘what is he thinking fighting over there? It’s such a risk’, but that’s not how I see it. For me this is a massive opportunity and I plan to make the most of it.”
Listen, I’m prepared to fight anyone, anywhere in the world and these are the fights that I want. I want big fights and I want to take over the heavyweight division.”
A 26 year long career has offered Pulev world title glory in the past. With only 1 defeat to his name – a brutal KO in the 5th against the former IBF/IBO/WBO world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 – the seasoned professional has spent the past 18 months suffering from injuries and frightening away potential challengers. The 38 year old was originally scheduled to fight AJ last October, however had to pull out of the fight due to a serious shoulder injury, and was replaced last minute with Carlos Takam.
Since then Pulev has had fights against Dillian Whyte, Jerrell Miller and Dominic Breazeale all falling through, meaning the last time he had any ring time was in April 2017 with a win over American Kevin Johnson.
Speaking at the announcement presser back in August, Pulev won’t let the 18 month setback affect the fight:
"The fact that Hughie Fury is coming to Bulgaria when many others ran away speaks volumes," Pulev said. "I understand that he is very motivated because this is an eliminator fight for a chance at the world title. I suggest he stops thinking about the world title for a moment and come prepared for a real battle. I am already in beast mode and I'm hungry for my return in the ring”
With both men at a career cross roads will we be witnessing a generational shift in the heavyweight division? A win for Fury opens him up to an AJ fight and the next level of the heavyweight division, a defeat for Pulev could potentially force his retirement. One thing is for certain, the dust-up in Bulgaria is destined to bring drama
The fight will be broadcast on Channel 5 from 9pm, and streamed live on ESPN in the US
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