WHEN Manchester’s Hughie Fury (21-2, 11 KOs) attended a show in Bolton recently he was ushered to a punching power measuring machine for a few photos. With a fight against Canada’s Chris Norrad (17-0, 8 KOs) coming up on May 25 he opted not to have a go himself.
A tipsy reveller walked up behind him and grabbed a handful of his shirt to get his attention. The 24-year-old turned around, glowered at the punter, wagged a single finger, shook his head, and then walked away. It was a small gesture yet a few years ago Fury may not have responded at all.
These days — and in spite of or maybe due to defeats to Joseph Parker [below] and Kubrat Pulev, both on points — the 6ft 6’ins Fury cuts a more foreboding figure. The five-round destruction of Sam Sexton for the British title that was sandwiched between the two reverses showcased a brutal, destructive Fury and it this side of him that his father and trainer, Peter, has long been keen to add to his undoubted talent.
Peter had hoped we would see this against Pulev. However, he told Boxing News that there were reasons, rather than excuses, for the loss.
“I put it down to the injury, but not fully down to it because he is still learning, there is stuff to improve on — we went away and worked on all of those things,” he said.
“Not a single thing went right, he got a really bad cut on his left eye in round two (a sparring injury that opened up). At the weigh-in the day before our cutsman Kerry Kayes saw it and straight away said: ‘I think that will open up quickly so we will just have to deal with it’. That knocked Hughie’s confidence a bit going in. Kerry just you gives the straight facts.”
“What is disappointing is that we were told something different by the doctor we saw weeks before, which is disgusting, really, and if we’d have gone to Kerry earlier and he’d seen it then we’d have cancelled the fight,” he added. “We just had to go ahead.
“You live and learn. He got the 12 rounds, he made mistakes, then when the cut appeared the plan went out the window. We also had the ref saying he’d stop it in a few rounds once he saw the cut. Hughie had a lot to deal with.
“Nothing else could have gone wrong both before and during the fight. He’d had micro stitches and we were given assurances. For a professional person to make that mistake is ridiculous. He’s had treatment on it and is good to go.”
Kayes was Ricky Hatton’s conditioner, so it makes sense that he has helped out in that area, too. “Kerry is a brilliant cutsman, one of the best I’ve even seen, and what he did to staunch the blood flow was commendable,” said Fury. “What he has done with Hughie’s body shape is also incredible. I’m excited with how things are.”
Fighters can be written off after a loss. Two in relatively quick succession was long thought of as the death knell. Fury, though, told me that after early career defeats no one could have predicted that Anthony Crolla would one day end up fighting for major titles. By the time he challenged Darleys Perez in 2015, Crolla had four losses and two draws on his record.
“Anthony is a fine example of what you can achieve despite having defeats,” he argued. “He had success after tough times. It is not about losing, it is about how you lose and how you respond. Hughie has had a controversial loss that we believed he deserved to win as well as a fight in which he was injured.
“The losses he’s had, and how he lost, tells another story than just the results. Look, I don’t like or want to say a lot these days yet you will see the big improvements in him. Hughie is looking fantastic, ready to put in a display. It is an ideal comeback fight.”
The division is currently led by unified holder Anthony Joshua, WBC holder Deontay Wilder, and former champion Tyson Fury – Hughie’s cousin and Peter’s nephew – who still considers himself the man to beat. Peter, though, has got the blinkers on these days, focusing solely on his son’s career.
“With the heavyweights, the forecast can change very quickly,” he said. “I don’t want to look at anyone apart from my own fighter, though. I think there are a lot of good fighters coming through. Hughie is making his way. We took our time with him, and a lot of people are going to have to change their views.
“We’ve lined up three fights this year. The final fight will be a top one to put him right back in the mix. Early-September then late-November or in December. We are happy. He is happy.”
“I am — I am enjoying it,” he said after I pointed out that they seem to like flying under the radar. “There is no propaganda here. No hype to try and sell a ticket. It is just us doing what we do. I’m happy and looking ahead to a good year.”
In a recent conversation, his brother John said the two may never talk again. There has been little said about it by the Furys, they tend to keep things in-house, yet it would be nice if there was a reconciliation somewhere down the line.
“Life is what it is,” said Fury. “People do different things. Let us put it this way, as long as family is healthy and all OK then that is the main thing.”