Hughie Fury

When Tyson Fury walked out at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf on November 28th 2015 he made history in many ways.  An unfancied underdog, he turned heavyweight boxing on its head by dethroning Wladimir Klitschko with ease, a man who hadn’t been beaten in eleven years as champion.  In the background of the celebrations was a young man who stood elated for his cousin, the new world heavyweight champion.  You could see in his face the absorption of the occasion, taking in what it means to be the best boxer on the planet as well as the elation at the achievement.  But also, you sensed, it was a preview for him of what is to come.
Hughie Fury is only a young man still, 21 years old.  But he talks with a calmness and control that won’t reach the same headlines as his cousin has done.  Tyson may have been front page news for some of his misconstrued soundbites and is well known for being loud and outspoken (as well as his now infamous fancy dress press conferences) but you get the impression that for now, Hughie is more suited to being out of the limelight while he builds his own impressive resumé.  18 fights into a professional career, 18 wins with 10 by ways of knockout.  It makes for an interesting comparison of course with cousin Tyson; Fury has clocked up eight more fights by the same age and both have taken a route that many would avoid.  Instead of focussing on building a record against journeymen, Hughie Fury has his eyes set on bigger fights in his formative years.  Those next steps will be happening soon, with father and Coach Peter Fury announcing that he will likely be fighting on the undercard of the Chris Eubank Jr vs Nick Blackwell fight on March 5th.  So has an adversary been picked?
“Nobody is lined up but I’m hoping to find a good opponent” says Hughie.  “Hopefully someone in the top ten but it’s very hard to find an opponent.  I’m willing to take the fights though and I want the experience and to learn the job properly.  I’ve already had tough fights in 2015 and got through them fine, it’s just time to move forwards now.”
It has been well documented the Hughie has had trouble finding opponents willing to sign the contracts.  The younger Fury member was scheduled to take part on the undercard of Tyson’s historic night in Belfast, but nailing down someone to stand in the opposite corner proved a hard task.  “I was meant to be fighting on Tyson’s card in Germany, I had a big fight then and he pulled out a week before the fight.  I then had literally six opponents pull out in the week so it was crazy.  We’re just struggling to find opponents, it’s not easy.  Who wants to fight a 21 year old who can box and who is good?  Where can they go after that?  That’s probably what they’re thinking.  It’s frustrating, but you have to deal with it.”
What makes the 18 fights in a two and a half year professional career more impressive was a 10 month layoff as he battled illness.  It was on his ring return in February 2015 when Fury struck up the most impressive win to date, comfortably outpoint Andriy Rudenko.  The Ukranian was a man who had only once been beaten previously, against future world title challenger Lucas ‘Big Daddy’ Browne.  “I thought Rudenko beat him to be honest” says Hughie when we talk about the fight between Browne and Rudenko.  “I beat him in my comeback fight after a year out and I would have done a lot better if I fought him in my second fight coming back.  But that was my first and to be honest I found it easy in there, I don’t know how Lucas Browne struggled so much.  It was good experience for me, a good fight back and I’ll keep moving forwards now.”
Forwards is a difficult task when it seems there are few fighters out there willing to test themselves against a young man who stands six foot six and has shown a similar skillset to that which won his cousin so many headlines for the ease in which he won the world titles.  The added disadvantage for Hughie is that with opponents hard to come by, he has also struggled to find a place amongst the upper echelons of the ranking bodies.  “My ranking is an absolute joke, I don’t even know where I am in the world rankings and I’m pretty sure I’m nowhere near the top.  Big Daddy Browne is fighting for a world title off the guy that I beat easily.  There’s no recognition there.”  So is it therefore frustrating for the young Manchester giant to be in a position where he sees others climb the ladder while he strives for the opportunity?  “I’m not really bothered because I know I can fight and I know I’ll get there eventually.  People can’t avoid me forever; they can skip to the front of the queue but I’m always behind them.  Slowly but surely I’ll get there.”
Where “there” is, is at the top of the tree.  The aim is to emulate, if not surpass, the achievements of cousin Tyson.  At one point Tyson himself had touted Hughie as the one to become the youngest heavyweight champion of all time.  That record may have come and gone, but the ultimate aim of world titles is still undoubtedly in the offing.  Only recently the family setup have spoken of the two cousins going on to hold all of the world titles between them.  So is that a realistic ambition?  “I can see it soon.  All we need is the right fights.  Tyson is the only real champion at the weight.”  Many fans would agree that Tyson is the only champion, having claimed the WB, WBA and IBF titles from Klitschko.  But the IBF stripped him almost immediately due to mandatory obligations and American Deontay Wilder currently holds the WBC version of the belt.  What does Hughie make of the world scene?  “The heavyweight division at the moment, it’s weakened with the world champions like Deontay Wilder who hasn’t fought anyone.  It’s wide open.  The two guys fighting for the IBF, I’ve never heard of them!” he says.  Those two pugilists are American Charles Martin against Ukranian Vyacheslav Glazkov, a fight that has failed to capture the imagination of the boxing world. 
Domestically, the heavyweight scene has picked up after a few years of slower action.  Anthony Joshua is making the headlines on Sky Box Office, recently knocking out old adversary Dillian Whyte.  Dereck Chisora is a constant figure, although these days is at risk of a ‘gatekeeper’ tag as his prime is arguably behind him.  Of course Tyson Fury sits at the top of the tree with his world titles, but it seems that the other headlines acts aren’t rushing to call out Hughie Fury.  Again, does it cause a frustration for him?
“They cannot mention my name and keep me silent, that’s fine.  You know what they say?  The silent ones are the deadly ones.  I’m not bothered by all these people with hype that are knocking people out straight away, they’re not going rounds.  I can say when I get there I’ve learnt my job properly, I’ve been the rounds, fought tough people.  I’ve not been knocking people out all the time and giving false hope to myself and when you do that then when you do get hit people say ‘oh they are human’.  I know very well I can take a shot and have the experience behind me.  People knocking out others straight away aren’t learning anything; I’m happy with my progress so far.”  
Hughie Fury
For the next 12 months, Hughie is insistent that he is happy to fight whatever name is put in front of him, stating that “I will let my fists do that talking, whoever jumps in the ring is just an opponent to me”.  His understated approach is far from the headlines that the newspapers have been quick to write about the Fury family, instead a very considered, respectful and well mannered individual is who I speak to.  It is perhaps a reflection of the roots in boxing that Hughie comes from – no bright lights of the O2 arena in his formative years and headlining Pay Per View fights, instead he has spent his time in some of the less salubrious fighting locations such as Milton Keynes and Norwich.  Does it give him a sense of pride to know that his journey has an old school feel about it, more of a graft than a gift?  “When you’ve done everything then there’s nothing anyone can say.  They’ll probably find something to try and say behind your back but what can anyone really say when you’ve achieved it the right way?  I know when I get to the top I will have achieved it going the hard routes and I’ll get there eventually.”  Again there are reflection of Tyson here, who spent his early years taking on tough opponents in unfamiliar territories.  Does Hughie see the similarities himself?  “Tyson took hard fights to get where he is and he’s even been down on the canvas before but got up and won.  He’s improved in his fights and fought the hard way to get where he is.  He’s fully earned his achievements.  There’s only one way forwards for us and that’s the hard way, I don’t think we’ve got a choice anyway!!”
He insists to me that the entire Fury camp is still “buzzing” a month and a half on from ‘that night’ in Dusseldorf, but that their laurels are not being sat on. “It’s a new year and we’re going to make some more history” he says in a clinical manner.  The Fury training camp is always a family affair; Coach Peter Fury (father to Hughie and uncle to Tyson) oversees a tight ship and is now assisted by his brother (and father to Tyson) John Fury.  Both Tyson and Hughie train as one and it will be no different as Hughie prepares for a fight in either February or March.  “Every single camp we do we’re always together.  I’ll be going to camp first and he’ll meet us there when he’s back in training.”  So with the two preparing for different opponents and each having their individual attributes and strengths, is it difficult for Peter Fury to work on them separately?  “My dad takes time out to plan it.  We have the same sparring partners to make life easier.” 

Before we finish the phone call I couldn’t leave the other domestic name out of the equation, a man who has a rich history with the family including two failed attempts at bouts with Tyson.  That man is David Haye, who makes his ring return after a three year layoff this weekend at the O2.  I (in hindsight, stupidly!) ask if Hughie sees it as an exciting return for the heavyweight division? 

“HA HA HA HA HA!” he roars at me.  “I’m ignoring it. I can’t see it going past three rounds.  That De Mori……he come over sparring a year or two back.  He done a round or two sparring with me and every time I hit him, he was telling my dad I hit him too hard!  My dad told me to hit him softer so I did, then moved around on my feet a bit.  He then told my dad to tell me to stop moving!  So dad told me to stand still and not move, it was like a comedy show, I couldn’t believe it!  It was a comedy show.  I asked him for a fight but he wouldn’t take it.  He got offered good money as well but he wouldn’t take it.  I’d have had that fight, it would have been to be honest a very easy fight.  I don’t know how he’s got his ranking in the world at the minute.  He’s a bodybuilder, that’s all he is.  I’m not interested in it at all.  The fact he’s on Dave, no TV show was interest in it.  Haye couldn’t ask for an easier fight to get straight back in the rankings again.  He’s going for the easy route, maybe the IBF or something.”

His thoughts abundantly clear on the returning Haye, Hughie and I go our separate ways.  I have long been an admirer of the Fury setup, a tight knit set of individuals that keep their business between themselves.  Adverse headlines may have overshadowed the outstanding achievements of Tyson but for Hughie he seems happy to hide in plain sight.  He doesn’t shy away from the publicity, but equally doesn’t seek it.  At 21 years it is a certainty that he will grow into the heavyweight division.  Perhaps physically his growing is done at 6 foot 6.  With illness behind him and a new impetus around the training camp, 2016 could be the year that Hughie Fury finds himself in the spotlight.

Hughie wished to thank his sponsors Applied Nutrition.