It wasn’t to be on Saturday night for Hughie Fury in Sofia, Bulgaria, as Kubrat Pulev moved a step closer to a match with Anthony Joshua in 2019 with a comfortable enough points win. There was no controversy with the scoring, with the Bulgarian landing the cleaner shots, and controlling the pace of the fight on his terms to come out a worthy winner.
Fury started well, snaking out his left hand while trying to bring his right into play in a cautious and cagey opener for both men, that only came into life at the very end of the round, with both men exchanging overhand rights. Fury was very relaxed, and fought out of an unorthodox style, always looking to bring the right hand over, but Pulev had success with a spearing left jab in the second, which immediately badly cut Fury above the left eye.
This was a cut sustained during camp on his eyelid that re-opened, and in the third, this caused Fury to immediately get onto the front foot, with Pulev limited to spoiling work to tire Hughie, as he struggled to close the gap in distance. The action was better in the fourth, with Pulev enjoying more success, landing with cuffing shots, but the action remained scrappy. Fury spent a lot of the fifth in the corner, looking to set traps for the Bulgarian to fall into, but Pulev again laded with a straight left hand. Rounds were difficult to score, and this surely could only benefit Pulev.
Fury continued to play possum going into the sixth, but Pulev was becoming wise to this, landing with increasing accuracy. Fury couldn’t seem to keep the fight at range going into the second half of the fight, and Pulev had success whenever he pinned Hughie to the ropes. He landed a decent hard right towards the end of the seventh. Fury finally had success of his own at the start of the eighth with a right hand that buzzed Pulev. The rest of the round remained a scrappy affair. Every small Pulev success was cheered to the rafters by the partisan crowd, and he came on strong at the end of the ninth with shots that looked to momentarily seemed to slow Fury down. Pulev was growing in confidence, but the pattern remained the same, both men attacking in short bursts. Fury was tiring down the stretch, with Pulev able to pick him off without looking in too much trouble. You got the feeling that Fury wasn’t doing enough to earn a points win on away territory. The last round action was much of the same, Pulev getting the better of the exchanges. Both men made it to the final bell as the fight went to the cards.
117-111, 118-110 and 115-113 were the scores returned by the judges to ensure Pulev becomes the IBF number one contender. He had to pull out of a fight with Anthony Joshua last year due to a bicep injury, and he will hope to get his chance most likely in the April date at Wembley Stadium unless he is paid some handsome step aside money. At 24, there is plenty of time for Fury to rebuild, and he will be wiser for the experience against the wily Pulev.