By Paul Mason (@KOBoxingSets)
This past weekend saw a disappointing turn of events in the proposed May 6th WBO Heavyweight Title fight between Joseph Parker and Hughie Fury. Hughie pulled out of the bout due to a back injury, but there are now several conspiracy theories circulating the internet on the real reasons for the postponement.
The Fury’s released the following statement regarding the postponement:
‘It is with our deepest regret that we have to announce that the WBO World Heavyweight Championship between the Champion, Joseph Parker, and mandatory challenger, Hughie Fury, scheduled for Saturday May 6 2017 in Auckland, New Zealand, has been postponed.
‘Hughie has been declared medically unfit to box following a medical assessment. He has suffered an injury to his lower back which has been a serious issue for the last three weeks that has left him unable to train to his full capacity.
‘Despite receiving intense physiotherapy treatment and his desire to fight for the WBO World title, after seeing his physiotherapist last Friday he has been advised to rest for 3-4 weeks before resuming training.
‘Understandably, Hughie is devastated by the injury which has temporarily halted his dream of fighting for the World Heavyweight Title, but the fight will be rescheduled and a new date will be announced shortly.
‘Hughie and Team Fury wish to express their sincerest apologies to Joseph Parker, the WBO, the fans and public in New Zealand and to all the boxing fans around the world who had been looking forward to the highly anticipated fight.
‘Frank Warren of Queensberry Promotions will be making a further detailed statement shortly.’
Rumours are now swirling following a Twitter Member searching the British Boxing Board of Control’s website for the Fury Surname under licence holders, no search results can be found leading to fans speculating weather Hughie has had his licence suspended or revoked by the BBBofC. Sunsequently fellow heavyweight Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, then followed up with Tweets about ridding drug users from the sport.
Peter Fury, Hughie’s Father and coach suggested that they were approached “three weeks ago” to switch the fight from Auckland, New Zealand to England. There was also speculation that the Fury’s were unhappy with travel arrangements, amid being booked on economy class flights to New Zealand, but nothing has been confirmed. Team Parker, in particular his trainer, Kevin Barry, suggested that they were not surprised by the pull-out, and in an interview, Barry was quoted as saying:
‘I hope the injury is not too serious and I wish Hughie a speedy recovery.
‘I will say it didn’t come as a total surprise to us.
‘Just the way the whole Fury team have been conducting themselves in the last three months, it didn’t at all surprise us for them to pull out at this last minute.’
It is now expected that Parker’s promotors, Duco Events, will now frantically search for a viable opponent to hastily defend against on the same night as originally planned. The favourite so far is American, Dominic Breazeale, who was stopped in Seven in a challenge for Anthony Joshua’s IBF crown last Summer. Breazeale is ranked number 6 by the WBO, and the criteria for a voluntary defence is a top 15 ranked opponent. It really is slim pickings looking at the WBO rankings below:
|1. Hughie Fury
2. Christian Hammer
3. Jarrell Miller
4. Andy Ruiz
5. Kubrat Pulev
6. Dominic Breazeale
7. Dillian Whyte
8. Tom Schwarz
9. Andriy Rudenko
10. Luis Ortiz
11. Andrey Fedosov
12. Agit Kabayel
13. Kyotaro Fujimoto
14. Razvan Cojanu
15. Zhilei Zhang
What’s more concerning is the way the WBO compile their rankings. For example Fury is number one with the organisation and the only person remote to World level he has faced was the number 9 WBO ranked Anriy Rudenko in February 2015 (unanimous decision, 10 rounds). He has otherwise been fed on a diet of journeymen in his twenty paid contests (20-0, KO10) It is interesting to see where this leaves Hughie Fury with the WBO going forward. Will they elect to freeze Fury’s ranking and keep him as their number one contender, or drop him down or out completely following the late cancellation. Will Fury pursue the title again straight away, so early into his career at aged only 22, or will he continue to build down at domestic level first?
Surely this isn’t kidology or anything other than a genuine injury to Fury, as turning down a shot at one of the greatest prizes in sport doesn’t make any sense to me. This is, at this stage an opportunity lost, and it will be interesting to follow the turn of events in the next few weeks, weather the injury is confirmed as genuine, and what Fury’s next move will be.