By Jake Donovan
Less than a week after signing with Matchroom Boxing, heavyweight hopeful Hughie Fury already has his first assignment—and a big one, to boot.
The former heavyweight title challenger is locked in for a dangerous crossroads bout with former secondary titlist Alexander Povetkin. The two will collide August 31, in chief support to the three-belt lightweight title clash between Vasiliy Lomachenko and Luke Campbell at O2 Arena in London, England.
“I’m over the moon with this news,” said England’s Fury (23-2, 13KOs), whose first cousin, Tyson Fury is an unbeaten top-rated heavyweight and former lineal champion. “I can’t wait. These are the kind of fights I want to be in. Matchroom can get me these big names and I’m just really looking forward to it.
“Povetkin is a dangerous man. You can’t take anything away from that. He’s not been where he’s been for nothing. It’s a very serious fight but I’m confident of getting the win on the night.This fight here represents a massive opportunity. As soon as it was suggested, I said ‘yes.’ Povetkin is a completely different level to my last fight and I believe his style will complement mine.”
Fury fights for the third time in a span of just over three months, although the latest test is a considerable leap in competition from what comprises of his current two-fight win streak.
A 12-round loss to Kubrat Pulev in their title eliminator last October has been followed by knockout wins over Chris Norrad in May and badly faded former heavyweight titlist Samuel Peter earlier this month.
Aside from Pulev, the lone other loss on Fury’s ledger came in his first—and to date, only—crack at a major title, dropping a disputed 12-round decision to then-unbeaten Joseph Parker in Sept. 2017.
While it stands to reason that Povetkin is a bit long in the tooth, he still carries enough bite to make this a major two-way risk. The 39-year old has been out of the ring since a 7th round knockout loss to then-unbeaten and unified heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua last September, but still represents among the toughest tests in Fury’s career.
The fact that he didn’t have to take a fight on the road against a boxer with such an awkward style only speaks to his own determination to reclaim past glory.
“Hughie Fury is a young, strong and challenging boxer for me to face,” said Russia’s Povetkin (34-2, 24KOs), a 2004 Olympic Gold medalist who fights for the third straight time in the United Kingdom. “I am glad this fight will take place in the United Kingdom where people really love their boxing. I am anticipating an exciting fight and I look forward to returning to London next month.”
Povetkin’s only other loss also came at the championship level, as he was soundly outpointed by then-World champ Wladimir Klitschko in Oct. 2013.
The pairing is interesting for a number of reasons. The worst of them is that it features two athletes who’ve previously served suspensions due to testing positive for banned substances, a growing epidemic and particularly in the heavyweight division.
Given recent turmoil and from the very venue which houses this event, it’s an unfortunate shadow which continues to cast over the sport.
On the bright side, it’s also about two heavyweights whose only losses are at the top level. On the surface, both stand plenty to lose as there’s no guarantee the winner lands a title fight in the near future.
That element makes it all the more surprising—and encouraging—that it was pieced together in such rapid-fire fashion.
“I can’t quite believe this fight has been made,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “It’s happened very quickly and it has to be said Hughie Fury has a big set of balls. There’s huge risk in the fight but there is also huge reward and if Hughie can beat Povetkin on August 31 he catapults himself into huge fights and immediate World title contention.
“It’s going to be a great fight on a great card – a huge night for British boxing.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox