By Chris McKenna, courtesy of The Daily Star
HUGHIE FURY fights for a world heavyweight title tonight – but just 17 months ago he was ready to quit the sport for good.
The cousin of former world champion Tyson takes on WBO belt holder Joseph Parker at Manchester Arena.
Unbeaten Fury, 23, believes he will deliver the finest performance of his career because he has finally put a nasty acne case behind him that left him wanting to sleep for days.
The Manchester-born fighter has spoken about the problem before but ahead of his biggest night he has opened up on how bad it left him as he pondered quitting after his 2016 win over Fred Kassi.
He said: “I had come to the point where I thought me and boxing was over, I thought that I would never achieve anything and feeling like I did that I couldn’t beat anyone.
“In the first round of that fight literally I could not put my hands up, I went back to the corner after two round and said, ‘Dad, my legs are like lead and my arms...I can’t get nothing off.
“I couldn’t do it - and I had another 10 rounds to go. Mentally to keep in that fight was absolutely crazy and then after the fight I knew I had a serious problem.
“I was in tears after the fight, I should be happy because I’d won the fight but it was heartbreaking for me because I thought that everything I had put into boxing in my entire life from when I was a young kid was going to be over.
Tyson Fury sings before predicting cousin Hughie will be champion
“The dream of becoming world champion was gone but my dad never gave up on me.
“We went to see a skin specialist in Harley Street and I was diagnosed as having a rare form of acne and it was poisoning my blood - I’d had it since I was 14 years old.
“Over the years it was just getting worse. There were even times during fights that I’d come over all dizzy get back to the dressing room and spew my guts up.
“There was always something wrong and in training camps used to be the worse times of my life because instead of progressing I was just going backwards.
“It was torture but thankfully all of that is behind me now and I can just move forward.
“If I sparred with a tee shirt on my back would start bleeding and the shirt get stained.
“Even watching a fight back on TV I could see it ...it wasn’t nice, I had blood squirting out my back, even my chest.
“It was torture, a horrible thing to go through It made me so depressed, it would make me go to sleep for three or four days at a time. I was so down because I thought my dream was over.”
Of course he also faces a UK Anti-Doping hearing over it was alleged that traces of Nandrolone found in samples provided by him and his cousin back in February 2015.
But here he is on the verge of emulating his cousin and becoming a heavyweight world champion.
Fury’s focus is on tonight but he is aware what doors winning a belt will offer and one of them could be to WBA, IBO and IBF champion Anthony Joshua.
He said: “Me and Joshua would be an easy fight and an easy win for me. The styles that we have - with mine it is Kryptonite for him.
“I can’t look past Parker, one fight at a time but I believe I can unify the division. I believe I can so these are the fights I want.
“I don’t care who is in the opposite corner to me – I just concentrate on the fighting. Joshua, David Haye, Tony Bellew, let’s have it.”