HUGHIE FURY might not be the Fury the general public want to see fight Anthony Joshua at some point in 2019, but he might be the Fury they end up getting.
The talented 24-year-old, who fights Kubrat Pulev in Sofia, Bulgaria, on October 27, is the less showy and vocal of the fighting Furys and more inclined to let his fists do the talking.
In recent years, however, he has come on leaps and bounds, and last time out looked as good as ever when dismantling Sam Sexton to win the British heavyweight title.
Now, should he score the win of his career against Pulev in Bulgaria, there’s every chance the former WBO world heavyweight title challenger will end up landing a second shot at a version of the world heavyweight title.
This time, though, it will be the IBF title in his sights – Joshua’s IBF title.
“Over the last few weeks there’s been a lot of talk about who will fight Anthony Joshua next but for now I’m just focusing on the fight with,” wrote Fury in an exclusive column with the Daily Mirror. “For me, social media is a distraction and that’s why I stay off it. I just like to concentrate on what I’m going to do in my next fight.
“I’d be lying, though, if I said I wasn’t rubbing my hands together at the thought of fighting him (Joshua). He looked vulnerable against Povetkin and that’s the fight I want. A lot of people talk about wanting to fight him, but I’ll let my fists do the talking in the ring, like I always do.”
Hughie’s father and trainer, Peter, is someone else who likes to take the low-key approach. But that hasn’t stopped him making some ambitious statements about his son over the years, nor will it prevent him tipping Hughie to not only win the IBF heavyweight title from Joshua but then go on and unify the other belts, too.
“I believe Hughie can unify the titles,” Peter said. “He’s an exceptional talent and he’s getting better all the time.
“He’s already incredibly experienced by the age of 24. Anthony Joshua turned professional at 24 and Hughie has already been hard done by in a world title fight (against former WBO champion Joseph Parker). He belongs on the world stage.
“Hughie turned professional at 18 and he’s already 21-1 with the loss a controversial defeat to a world champion. That’s a statement in itself. He’s an exceptional young man and I believe he’ll unify when he gets the chance.
“He isn’t a trash-talker. He doesn’t talk rubbish. He doesn’t have a bad bone in his body. All this stuff about hating other fighters is rubbish. He’s got respect for every human being. I’m proud of the way he conducts himself.
“I think if Hughie gets past Pulev then facing Joshua could happen next year. I don’t expect AJ to drop the IBF title or run from anybody.”
It’s been a tough old year for Londoner George Groves.
At the start of 2018, he was the WBA world super-middleweight champion and one of the favourites to win the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS). Then, a couple of months into the year, he showed Chris Eubank Jr, the actual favourite to win the WBSS super-middleweight tournament, there was no substitute for technique, size and seasoning, eliminating the Brighton man at the semi-final stage.
In the process of dishing out a lesson, however, Groves injured his shoulder in round 12, an injury that delayed the final of the tournament, and subsequently spent much of the summer in rehab.
Alas, by the time he faced Liverpool’s Callum Smith in the Saudi Arabia final, it had a been a long, hard year for Groves, and the strain of it showed in his performance. Smith, a comparatively fresh contender eager for his first world title win, confidently attacked him from round one, had success throughout, and then ended the fight in round seven following a left hook to the head and some follow-up body shots. Groves, on his haunches, having given so much, decided enough was enough.
It remains to be seen whether the Hammersmith puncher returns to the ring, but his coach, Shane McGuigan, is keen to stress there’s no reason to rush into any kind of decision.
“He is going to spend the rest of the year out from the gym and then we can make a decision on what he wants to do in the future,” McGuigan told The Independent.
“George is spending some time with his family and having a good rest. It has been a long camp ever since the (Chris) Eubank Jnr fight, what with the shoulder.
“We spent seven months in camp making sure it was coming back, because it is a really complicated joint to recover and rehab, so we had a deadline at the end of September and, luckily for us, the WBSS, the tournament, pushed the date of the final back.
“In the meantime, it was an exhausting camp in this stage of George’s career. He’s 30 years of age; he’s been a pro for 10 years. It was a very long camp and we did our best to get him in the best condition possible. Unfortunately, he didn’t win on the night.
“The (retirement) decision is up to George. He is his own man. But I will be a part of his decision. Everyone wants to find out what he wants to do, (but) the only way he will know is with time. If he spends four months out and doesn’t get that bit between his teeth, it’s time to pack it in and we can make the decision when it comes.”
Having already scaled the heights as a WBA world champion, as well as played his part in a blockbuster Wembley Stadium fight with Carl Froch, there aren’t many remaining boxes left to tick for the all-action super-middleweight.
Yet, with James DeGale, his old rival from the amateur and early pro days, still circling, and with Chris Eubank Jr, the man he humbled in February, still a high-profile name, there’s undoubtedly money to be made in 2019, and Groves, a fan of the big event, might be tempted to stick around for that reason and that reason alone.