WAITING for Hughie Fury to come good and deliver on his potential is much like waiting for Hughie Fury to follow his effective jab with a solid right hand.
It is both achievable and, to those on the outside, obvious. Yet, for whatever reason, the wait goes on.
Back in August he suffered the third loss of his professional career against top contender Alexander Povetkin and, like the previous two, the result owed as much to what Fury didn’t do as what Povetkin did do. As with earlier losses to Joseph Parker and Kubrat Pulev, the fight at times seemed winnable but Fury, operating mostly on the back foot, took too long to realise this. It left him frustrated rather than damaged.
Now, having had time to mull it over, Fury returns to the ring on Saturday (November 30) in Monte Carlo, where he will fight Pavel Sour, a heavyweight from the Czech Republic stopped by Filip Hrgovic inside a round two years ago. It’s the sort of fight Fury should win with little difficulty; the sort of fight he needs. It will also mark step one of his latest revamp.
“We’ve been working on a lot of stuff and changing a lot of things around,” said Hughie’s trainer and father, Peter. “It’s been complicated and difficult to change his style, but we’ve needed to make some considerable changes.
“I’m intrigued to see how the changes will play out. I’m as much an observer at this point and I want to see the changes come into play on Saturday. I hope the general public will see a massive improvement.”
The Povetkin fight always seemed a risk for Fury given their respective styles and the company the Russian had previously kept. It appeared a tough one for Fury to win having never before shown the punch power to unsettle Povetkin or the work rate needed to outhustle him. And so it proved.
“I looked at it back and it’s the same sort of thing as always,” said Peter. “He’s a very good technical boxer, Hughie, he can work well behind the jab and make you miss a hell of a lot, and I think he did very well against Povetkin for the first six or seven rounds. The problem is, he then let Povetkin come into it and Hughie couldn’t change his gears up. He had nothing else. What you see in round one is what you see all the way through the fight. He didn’t do anything different. This is the major problem for him. He couldn’t get his own shots off and was so frustrated about this he started walking into Povetkin’s shots.
“We’ve spoken about it at length and made some considerable changes and I think these will be changes for the better. He’s comfortable now in his style.
“In certain respects he has been handicapped, not because of what has been going on in the fights but because of his health and what he’s not been doing. He’s had a jab and movement. That’s all he’s had and that’s why he’s come up short.
“But that’s not what people want to see. They want to see shots being thrown. They want to see proper right hands and everything else. That’s been missing in the past from Hughie’s arsenal.
“It’s frustrating because he is very, very talented. He can take shots, he can do 12 rounds, he’s not faint-hearted. He will literally fight anybody. He’s just missing the ingredients to be able to exchange and throw plenty of shots.
“There has been a reason for it, though, which we will explain after Saturday. It will be self-evident after Saturday as well.”
Patience, this rarest of things in boxing, can certainly be offered in the case of Hughie Fury, 23-3 (13). He is, after all, just 25 years of age.
What’s more, rather than using his age as a reason to take things slowly and perhaps wrap himself in cotton wool, Fury has, to his credit, taken the opposite approach. In accepting fights with Parker, Pulev and Povetkin, he has shown no aversion to rolling the dice, nor any fear of dirtying his record with the odd defeat.
“I’ve gone through life with a lot of bumps in my road and I know what it feels like,” Peter added. “This is a young man who has a massive future in boxing. Age plays a big factor, especially with heavyweights, because he is nowhere near physically mature yet. He is just at the start of that process.
“But despite that he still hasn’t been protected. We haven’t given him easy knockover fights because of his age or tried giving him a padded record. He’s learned the hard way. He’s had setbacks, he’s had knocks, but he has dealt with the situations well.
“They haven’t knocked him back mentally, and he hasn’t ever been put in too deep over his head. The opponents aren’t giving him a hiding or a boxing lesson. He’s not coming out of there having been flattened. He’s just been falling short because he’s not doing enough. It’s not because of what the opponent is doing in front of him, it’s because of what he’s not doing himself.
“If he was getting beaten up and stopped, you’d say, ‘Hang on a minute. He’s well out of his depth here.’ But that’s not happening. This is a young man who has been in with everybody and is more than capable of mixing it with the best.”
Pavel Sour, 11-2 (6), is so far from the best that fighting him could prove a pointless exercise on Saturday night. But if it’s enough to get Hughie Fury throwing his right hand, letting it all out, and building the kind of confidence in his ability he has seemingly lacked, it could end up being a fight as crucial to his development as those three decision losses.