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Hughie Fury goes again

Hughie Fury
Action Images/Paul Burrows
Hughie Fury returns against an unbeaten but untested rival, writes Elliot Worsell

HUGHIE FURY goes into a 12-rounder against Canadian Chris Norrad on Saturday (May 25) at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse aware his recent form has been mixed but knowing, equally, there is no need to panic. Left disappointed following two of his last three fights, Fury managed to sandwich arguably the best performance of his career between those defeats, and, at 24 years of age, is young and talented enough to get himself back into title contention. He has time. He has talent.

More importantly, he has now had a taste of what it means to compete beyond British title level and fall short against world-class heavyweights. Joseph Parker, for instance, was a WBO champion when Fury lost a decision – a close one – to him in 2017, while Kubrat Pulev, the last man to defeat Fury, once boxed Wladimir Klitschko for the WBA, IBF and WBO belts. There’s no shame in losing to either.

At his best, Fury is a nuisance of a heavyweight, much like his cousin, Tyson, all jittery movement and unorthodox ideas. The Mancunian’s jab is sharp and consistent, and his right cross, as shown against Sam Sexton last year, now carries power and conviction it once lacked. In that fight, with the British title on the line, Fury, 21-2 (11), demonstrated an evolving skillset and an ability to not only befuddle and outbox opponents but also stand his ground and make a dent in them. The stoppage to finish in round five was a testament to this.

Fury-Pulev, though, was an altogether different kind of fight, one Hughie never looked like winning. He wasn’t favoured to win when it was made – owing more to the fact it was taking place in Bulgaria than anything else – and struggled matching the Bulgarian’s work rate on the night, in the end losing a clear unanimous decision. There were, that night, shades of Fury’s loss against Parker, the setback again attributed to him not doing enough when stepping up in class.

Ahead of Saturday’s return, the good news for Hughie is that Chris Norrad shares more in common with Sam Sexton than Kubrat Pulev or Joseph Parker. We know this because Norrad, despite a 17-fight unbeaten record, has yet to garner much attention nor fight outside Canada in a 10-year pro career. He is also 35 years of age. If he was going places,
he would surely have arrived by now.

In truth, Norrad, 17-0 (8), boasts not a single win of significance and typically competes in six or eight-rounders. His one 10-round fight came against Frank White, an opponent with a 7-5-2 record, and ended with Norrad claiming a split decision and the NABA Canadian cruiserweight title. Oh, and that’s the other thing: Norrad, though now a heavyweight, spent the first four years of his career as a cruiserweight before taking 2014 off and returning 30 pounds heavier.

This all suggests Norrad’s threat level will be minimal and that Fury, a gifted boxer when on-song, is probably good enough and determined enough to not only defeat the Canadian but get the job completed in the middle rounds.

Also scheduled is a super-feather 10-rounder between Worthing southpaw Alex Dilmaghani, 18-1 (7), and Slovakian-Czech Martin Parlagi, 25-2-1 (14), as well as the six-round professional debut of Sevenoaks middleweight Michael Hennessy Jnr – the 19-year-old son of the show’s promoter, Mick Hennessy. Channel 5 televise.

The Verdict Fury aims to get back to winning ways against an unknown opponent who is likely to bring out the best in him.

FOES REUNITED

THE vacant English super-flyweight title is up for grabs when Nathan Reeve meets Craig Derbyshire at the Deco in Northampton on Saturday (May 25), writes Matt Bozeat. BCB promote this rematch. In September 2017, Northampton’s Reeve, 12-2 (6), marked his return after almost four years out with a 39-37 points win over Derbyshire. Reeve also scored a knockdown, although it was half a slip. The local learned enough from that fight to know that he doesn’t want to ship too many right hands from Derbyshire – a game Doncaster fighter with a 6-27-3 (2) record, who gets his shot after upsetting Lee Clayton for the Central Area bantamweight title last year. Reeve is the sharper and better schooled of the two, though he is prone to cuts and takes chances to land his power punches. This will be his second try at English honours after Louis Norman outboxed him for the flyweight strap in December 2013. This time, he can go home with the St George’s belt after a good, hard fight that could well produce blood and drama.

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