Channel 5 makes a long overdue return to boxing this Saturday night, with the return of former World Title challenger, Hughie Fury topping the bill.
Fury attempts to come back from defeat, and seven months away from the ring this weekend at the Victoria Warehouse in Manchester.
His opponent is the unbeaten, but unknown Canadian, Chris Norrad, who fights outside his homeland for the first time. Here, I preview the bill topper and support.
Hughie Fury (21-2, KO11) v Chris Norrad (17-0, KO8) – 12 Rounds, Heavyweight
Hughie Fury makes a welcome return to action in his home county of Lancashire, where he is eased back in gently in a scheduled twelve rounder.
Fury was last seen travelling to Sofia, Bulgaria, slipping to a second career defeat in a final eliminator for the IBF Title. Kubrat Pulev was just too seasoned and experienced for Hughie, who suffered a bad cut above his eye in round two that he didn’t fully come to terms with.
Hughie’s trainer and father, Peter, said that his son’s vision was impaired throughout the contest, and that he was carrying the injury prior to the fight.
Fury has made a sharp step up in class after nineteen straight wins against limited opposition. A win against Fred Kassi for the WBO Intercontinental Title in April 2016 came at a cost, when another horrific eye injury forced the contest to go to the cards, with Fury a technical decision winner. He was forced to stay on the side lines for a year, and, when he was due to return in May 2017, a proposed shot at WBO Heavyweight Champion, Joshua Parker had to be shelved due to a back injury.
It would be September of the same year before Fury finally got his shot. With home advantage at the Manchester Arena, New Zealander Parker eventually forced the pace after halfway in a dull fight to retain his belt via majority decision.
Hughie picked up the British Title upon his return, stopping Sam Sexton in five rounds, before meeting Pulev in late 2018.
His reintroduction is a gentle one, but little is known of his opponent in Manchester.
New Brunswick native, Chris Norrad is unbeaten in seventeen, albeit against pretty dreadful opposition. A professional since 2009, at 35, surely the Canadian has ventured outside his home country for the first time for a tidy payday.
Norrad has only been past eight rounds once in his career, and that was in March 2012. He won the NABF Canadian Cruiserweight Title with a split decision ten round win against the then 7-5-2 Frank White.
In his last seven fights, Norrad has been the distance five times. His most recent outing came just three weeks ago, winning every round of a six rounder with Abraham Pascual in Miramichi, Canada.
Prediction: I expect Fury to start at a slow pace, in order to shake the ring rust, and bank some rounds. He should keep Norrad on the end of a stiff jab, and once the pace is upped, around the fifth-round mark, I anticipate Fury being able to stop the visitor around the halfway mark.
It’s not much of an undercard in the North West, with a Central Area Title fight the highlight.
The vacant Super Lightweight Title is on the line, as Skelmersdale based, Steve Brogan (14-1-2, KO2) clashes with Manchester born, Derbyshire resident, Adam Hague (14-1-1, KO2).
Brogan is unbeaten in four, after a period in 2017 where he had back to back draws with Henry Janes, before being stopped in six rounds in a challenge for the English Lightweight Title against Lee Appleyard. He won the vacant Central Area Title at the same weight in September 2018, beating Brad Botham by a single point.
He was last out in March, beating Liam Richards on points over six.
Hague defeated the previously mentioned Lee Appleyard on debut in June 2015 by one point over six rounds, but Appleyard turned the tables in March 2017, handing Hague his only career defeat. Hague was dropped twice in the ninth before losing on the cards after ten rounds.
Hague is unbeaten in five since, but his last contest ended in a technical draw, with his opponent, Michael Isaac Carrero unable to continue after a bad clash of heads in the opening round left him severely cut.
Prediction: The smart money is on this one going the distance, and Area Title fights are usually far from dull affairs. I think Hague has been matched the tougher and can come through via close points decision.
The only other real appearance of note on the bill is of Savannah Marshall (5-0, KO3) who continues her fledgling career, that she hopes will eventually lead her to amateur rival, Claressa S