Hughie Fury has warned Kubrat Pulev is not to be underestimated, but expects Anthony Joshua to pick off the Bulgarian when he is “vulnerable” in the latter stages of Saturday’s world heavyweight bout.
The cousin of Tyson Fury faced 39-year-old Pulev in Sofia on October 27, 2018 and despite a strong display, lost on points after a unanimous decision.
A cut over his left eye, originally sustained in training, during the second round altered the course of the bout according to the Stockport-born boxer and he reflected on that night when speaking ahead of fighting on the Joshua-Pulev undercard against Mariusz Wach at Wembley’s SSE Arena.
“You can’t underestimate Pulev, he’s got a good jab but when I was in the fight I felt quite comfortable,” Fury said.
“Obviously from the second round I got cut over the eye and it opened back up and went over my face. The referee came in and said basically they will stop the fight with it being so bad, so I had to go out like a maniac in the third round and gassed myself out.
“I think Pulev is more vulnerable in the latter stages, he is getting on isn’t he and I wobbled him in the seventh or eighth round, but I just didn’t have energy to get him out of there because I gassed myself out.
“With Pulev, he is dangerous behind his jab, but the more later the fight, I favour Joshua.”
The 26-year-old Fury, who is trained by his father Peter, was last in action in the final fight to be hosted in the UK with a crowd before the coronavirus pandemic took a hold in March.
A technical knock-out over Pavel Sour on the undercard of Scott Quigg-Jono Carroll at the Manchester Arena saw the heavyweight respond after losing a world title shot against Alexander Povetkin in 2019.
He admitted he was not sure if cousin Tyson Fury would be in attendance on Saturday but insisted he felt no pressure carrying the family name and promised to show a big improvement against veteran Wach.
“At the end of the day we are fighting men and we will do what we are born to do and that’s fight,” Fury insisted.
“Trust me, the world will be shocked (on Saturday) and it will show you that I am at world level.”
Lawrence Okolie had hoped to fight for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title on the Joshua-Pulev undercard, but opponent Krzysztof Glowacki tested positive for coronavirus.
Nikodem Jezewski has stepped in but – with the Pole ranked outside of the top 15 – it is expected promotor Eddie Hearn will fail in his attempts to ensure the WBO belt is still on the line.
“It is disappointing to potentially not be boxing for a world title but ultimately I still have the fight to win and I am blessed to have a fight anyway,” Okolie said.
“The most important thing is to win this fight and from there, I believe there is the world title shot there.
“I am number one or two in the WBO so as long as I am able to win and keep my ranking, my next fight will be for a world title so I expect it to be more steps in the right direction.”
Okolie linked up with trainer Shane McGuigan 18 months ago and the decision was starting to bear fruit before the pandemic halted any hopes of a world title shot earlier this year.
Since a frustrating victory over Matty Askin, the 27-year-old has responded with four wins by knock-out.
Okolie added: “Shane enjoys more explosiveness and throwing your shots with intent. I naturally punch quite hard but he doesn’t really like when I tippy-tap and throw lots of punches.
“He would prefer me to throw less punches, a lot harder, so that is what we’ve been working on.”
Martin Bakole is another big puncher eager to make a statement by clinching the WBC international heavyweight title against Sergey Kuzmin.
The Congolese boxer, who resides in Airdrie, insisted: “I won’t let Scotland down, that is my second home.
“I have been there three-and-a-half years now and I feel like I am home.
“Everyone on social media, when I am going to watch Rangers at the stadium, they all support me and I won’t let them down. There is a big family there.”