No-one should ever accuse Hughie Fury of not fighting the best opponents available. The announcement that in his first fight under the Matchroom promotional banner, he would face former WBA heavyweight champion and recent Anthony Joshua foe Alexander Povetkin proved that the 24-year-old Mancunian truly believes that he can become heavyweight world champion if he gets another opportunity.
His first challenge for world honours was against New Zealand's WBO champion Joseph Parker in September 2017 at the Manchester Arena. Fury lost by a majority decision in a fight that was short on clean action but full of holding on the part of Fury. He and his father Peter protested furiously and still do to this day that Hughie won by a wide margin. Not an opinion that I share with them.
Fury came back from the Parker loss with a great 5th round knockout victory over Norwich's Sam Sexton for the British heavyweight title, and then went straight into an IBF final eliminator against No1 ranked Kubrat Pulev in Sofia, Bulgaria. Dillian Whyte and other highly ranked contenders turned the chance down believing that beating the Bulgarian on home soil was a luckless task, not the young Fury, and although he lost by unanimous decision the experience could only stand him in good stead for the future.
A comeback victory over unknown Canadian Chris Norrad followed and then Fury took a short-notice assignment in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia against former WBC heavyweight champion Samuel "The Nigerian Nightmare" Peter. The fight was arranged quickly to help bolster up a poor looking card headlined by Amir Khan vs Billy Dibb, the former Featherweight world champion from Australia. Fury cannot be blamed for the poor showing from the 38-year-old Peter, but frankly, it was a terrible fight, devoid of any real effort from the African other than a few dangerous looking swings and some hurtful low blows.
Fury will not be facing a man without desire and commitment when he steps into the ring with Povetkin. At this moment in time in the heavyweight division, there are not many that possess the skill set of the 39-year-old Russian, nor the experience garnered in a career full of top-name opponents. Only Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko have taken the scalp of the powerful and quick Russian.
Povetkin's management has fielded offers from top name contenders recently, waiting for the right offer to arrive. They jumped at the chance of taking on Tyson's cousin at the O2 Arena on a show headlined by P4P No1 Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Povetkin will have been out of action for 11 months by the time he fights Hughie, but he and his team are sure they have the right opponent on a big stage to propel the former champion back to the very top of the division. I also think that this is a step too far for Fury at this stage and that Povetkin will win by a wide points margin.
Kudos to Hughie Fury for his self-belief and willingness to face the best when so many others just don't.