How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellows as I am put them downJohn Aubrey, Folklorist and biographer, 1626-1697
There is little contained within the professional career of heavyweight Hughie Fury that isn’t enveloped by the unconventional. From entering the paid ranks as a man-child at 18, to the debilitation of a profound skin condition, a backdated suspension for an anomalous sample in 2015 and matchmaking that saw him box Joseph Parker, Kubrat Pulev and Alexander Povetkin before his 25th birthday.
Defeats in those three contests prevents lofty expectations of his ultimate ceiling but should be contextualised by his youth and the fact all three were lost on the judges scorecards and particularly in his challenge to the then WBO title holder Joseph Parker, very competitively. The boldness of the fixture list isn’t matched by Fury’s dynamism in the contests alas. It is on the alter of entertainment that the cruelest sermons on his merits are dispensed.
But in the bipolarity of Fury’s aggressive matchmaking but cautionary style, his famous surname and relative obscurity and the enduring sense that there is one great triumph yet to be had, this observer is infected with a desire to see him box. However niche that pursuit remains.
Fury has proven a tough sell for broadcasters and promoters since his debut in 2013. A fighting style based on movement, on neutralising the opponent’s offence and edging rounds narrowly isn’t box-office, but that surname – he is a cousin to Tyson – ensures a degree interest will always be maintained. Whether it morbid curiosity or a more enlightened appreciation of what he is, rather what he isn’t, he continues in the margins, on the under cards, in the shadows. Uncomfortable, awkward. Without his cousin’s natural charisma or loquacious ways, Hughie leans heavily on Father Peter, who trained Tyson before a parting of the ways, and his offering of sage and stark counsel.
On Saturday, he was matched with Polish veteran Marius Wach. 6ft 8 inches tall, lantern jawed and a hefty 20 stone. Wach is a pedestrian hulk who still swings a fair bit and is aggressive by nature. Despite his 40 years, and long career, he possessed pride, strength and a style customarily the antithesis of the now 26 year old Fury’s. It was a match designed to offer Fury a willing target but one with the heft to require him be busier with his power shots than he’d too often been in the past. Against Parker, who would go on to perform creditably against Anthony Joshua, he was perhaps but a few more successful shots from capturing the WBO bauble the Kiwi had at the time.
Against Wach, Fury being a Fury, opted to dispense with his usual terms of engagement. Left his caution at the door and bowled straight in to his giant opponent, rolling in with hooks, shifting between stances and working away on the inside against a man with a 27 pound weight advantage. It surprised Wach, the cynics on social media and those gathered in the Arena. Where customarily Fury would feint, jab, move, hesitate, observe, feint. He threw dozens more punches, got himself cut, horribly from a clash of heads, surviving a number of doctor’s inspections, and fought Wach’s type of fight for the first 6-7 rounds.
It was impossible not to conclude he was aiming to entertain. To prove himself to be an aggressive fighter, with heart, courage and competitive output. The fight grew messy, bloody, but strangely the tactic secured Fury rounds, tired the ageing Wach and with the cut staunched by the miraculous Kerry Kayes in the corner, Fury cruised through to the bell back behind his jab. He took some full blooded shots en route to his unanimous decision win and displayed a stubborn resolve that will serve him well if another chance at the heavyweight’s elite fighters materialises soon. In pursuing the whim of the crowd Fury offered Wach chances he might not otherwise have eked out, but it also made for more engaging fare.
As one of only 5 heavyweights under 30 in the top 25, alongside Yoka, Parker and Bakole, and the youngest other than the recently denoued Daniel Dubois, Fury can afford to be patient. Aim to remain busy against second and third level fighters, build confidence, acumen and the formula for success. Follow the script.
He wont of course. He’ll chase tough opponents. Because Hughie Fury never follows a script. That at least, he shares with his cousin.