Unbeaten heavyweight star Hughie Lewis Fury believes a potential rumble with IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua would bear a striking similarity to the night Muhammad Ali bemused and broke George Foreman in Zaire in 1974.
Twenty-one-year-old Fury, set for a tune-up bout on July 9 in Manchester, is currently recovering from illness, but, once back to full fitness, has his sights set on returning Joshua’s IBF title to the Fury family.
“I think when Joshua steps up to a higher level he’ll come undone,” says Hughie. “Joshua knows he can hit, he knows he’s one-dimensional and his team know all he needs is a stationary target, guys who can’t move. That’s why he looks good. That’s why he gets his knockouts. But put him in there with anybody who knows how to jab, move and actually box and I think he’ll look clueless very, very quickly.
“Let’s go back to the time when Muhammad Ali fought George Foreman. Everyone said Foreman was going to destroy Ali. They didn’t give Ali a chance. But look what movement did to power that night. After a few rounds, Ali took control and made Foreman look clueless. You can’t hit what you can’t see.
“I’m not saying I’m Ali, and I’m not saying Joshua is Foreman, but I think the same thing would happen to Joshua if he fought me. He’d be left hitting thin air and would get frustrated and exhausted.”
Though Fury, 20-0 (10 KOs), is happy to grab any of the available heavyweight titles, when he’s good and ready, he seems particularly irked by the way Joshua claimed his current belt.
“Joshua’s got very good management and he’s on a good rise,” says Hughie. “But I don’t class him as a world champion. He hasn’t fought anyone. He was gifted a belt. He didn’t win it. Tyson (Fury, cousin) had the belt taken off him and then Charles Martin won it because some guy (Vyacheslav Glazkov) got injured. The whole situation was a disgrace. It seems like anybody can get a belt these days.
“Charles Martin came over here, as a so-called world champion, took a shot, sat down and was smiling as he was counted out. That’s no world champion. Even if you’re no good, you at least put up a fight and give it a go. Put your heart and soul into it. At least then you have a bit of respect for the guy. But for him to go out the way he did was pathetic.”
The passing of Muhammad Ali on Friday night in Scottsdale, Arizona served as yet another reminder that they don’t make them quite like they used to. And Fury, a fan of Ali since he was a child, admits most of what he knows was taught to him by the The Greatest.
“He was an inspiration to us all,” he says. “I’ve always looked up to and admired Ali, especially in his fight with Foreman. That has always been one of my favourite fights to watch.
“That’s my style; movement and speed kills power. You don’t need to be the biggest puncher in the world. Even Muhammad Ali said that. You need to be clever and you need to be fast. I know I’m not a huge puncher, but I’m quicker and have more ring intelligence than these other heavyweights. It’s what is going to get me to the top.”