Two British fighters will attempt to become world champions on either side of the Atlantic tonight, beginning in Manchester where Hughie Fury challenges Joseph Parker for the WBO heavyweight title.
Having recently turned 23, Fury is one of the youngest heavyweight world title challengers in history, but hasn’t fought since April 2016 following a series of health and injury issues. The cousin of former heavyweight supremo Tyson Fury, Hughie won gold at the 2012 Youth World Championships, before turning professional the next year.
An unruffled 20 fights later, Fury finally gets the chance to face Joseph Parker, after the two were scheduled to fight in New Zealand earlier this year. A back injury to the Brit forced a rescheduled bout, and it could not have worked out better for the Manchester man. The last two weeks has seen a chaotic promotion, with Parker and his team complaining and fretting about all manner of issues.
Glove problems, the wrong referee, tipsy promoters and YouTube streaming have all infuriated Parker’s camp, while Hughie has remained unruffled throughout. Sometimes the perfect storm allows a boxer to close the gap on an opponent before a punch has been thrown, and this could be another example of that. Parker is a world champion yes, but he’s struggled to dominate his past two opponents, and tonight he’ll be facing a heavyweight who doesn’t fight like a typical big man.
Fury’s movement and shot selection is excellent, while his defence is above-par for a heavyweight fighter. He lacks significant power, but his accumulation of punches is excellent, and he has already shown that he can go through adversity in fights. A devastating skin condition threatened to derail his last bout with Fred Kassi, but after wanting to quit during the first round, Fury recovered to defeat his game opponent.
He’ll need to perform at his best to defeat Parker however, who has been one of the most hyped prospects in heavyweight boxing since his own professional debut in 2012. Parker’s flawless 23-0 record has included wins over the likes of Andy Ruiz Jr, Carlos Takam and Alexander Dimitrenko, while like Fury he too has an amateur pedigree. A superstar in New Zealand, Parker only briefly fought outside his home continent in the early stages of his career, and is not used to having to share attention during his contests.
Though he’s two years older than Fury, Parker is still developing as a boxer, which makes this world title clash so intriguing. The Kiwi has fought the better opposition but has noticeably shown stamina issues in the latter stages of fights. Fury, trained by his father Peter, hasn’t fought a similar calibre of fighters, but his style and poise has never looked in doubt across his 20 bouts.
After Tyson Fury outpointed Wladimir Klitschko to become the number one heavyweight in the world, few doubted that the Fury name would continue to be a major name in boxing in the following years. Yet after Tyson relinquished his belts and Hughie suffered health issues, the name threatened to be an asterisk rather than a full stop. Tonight, Hughie Fury has the opportunity to not just become world champion, but to re-introduce his family’s fighting name as a living, breathing entity and not just a controversial word.
Controversial is hardly the word you would use to describe Luke Campbell, whose clean cut reputation and youthful looks have made people forget just how good a boxer he is. The 2012 Olympic Games gold medalist also competes for a world title tonight in Inglewood, California against WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares.
Campbell has won 17 of his 18 professional fights, with his lone defeat coming against France’s Yvan Mendy in December 2015. While Campbell hasn’t atoned for that loss, he has won five fights in a row, and most recently stopped former world title challenger Darleys Perez in March. Fast with both his hands and his feet, the 29-year-old Campbell is a fantastic boxer at his best, with his long arms and snapping shots able to make most fighters feel uncomfortable from the first bell.
He couldn’t have asked for a more difficult opponent at this weight than Linares however, who has made a speciality out of defeating British opponents. The Venezuelan star has just moved to London after two victories over Anthony Crolla, and an entertaining win against Kevin Mitchell gave the 32-year-old an appreciation of England. Undefeated for five years, Linares carries plenty of power and experience, and is a wide betting favourite against his British opponent.
Hundreds of Campbell’s fans from Hull have traveled to California to support their Olympic hero, who weighed in heavier than Linares. Only two other British Olympic gold medalists have become world champions following their amateur success, and for Campbell to follow James DeGale and Anthony Joshua, he will need discipline and creativity for every moment of the fight.