Hughie Fury takes on the dangerous Polish giant Mariusz Wach on Saturday night on the undercard of Anthony Joshua v Kubrat Pulev in what is a stern test for the cousin of Tyson Fury.
The Brit stands at a crossroads in his career, having fought for the world title already and lost two other times to top level opponents, he faces a former world title challenger here in a must win fight.
With three defeats in his last seven fights, he finds himself not ranked in the top 15 of any of the world title belts.
His aspirations to be in the bigger fights and with his eyes on world title fights in the future, his journey starts Saturday night in an absolute must win fight.
Why This Fight is a Must Win
Every fight is a must win, but, in this case, with three defeats already on his record and not being ranked in the top 15 of any of the world title belts, he can't afford another setback.
His losses have come against opponents that are world level fighters, with the loss to Joseph Parker in 2017 for the WBO world title. Many thought he won the fight and he still believes he did win it to this day.
The other losses came against Joshua's former opponents Pulev and Alexander Povetkin. Both on points, but he didn't really ever come close to edging either one of those fights despite never really being hurt.
His style has that traditional Fury movement and fighting passion. He's proven he will fight anyone, anytime, anyplace. But all these fights have come before the age of 26, where many would have perhaps taken easier fights to build up their repertoire.
🗣️ "He's learned the hard way because he's been tested early. Would I have changed anything when looking back? Absolutely not. Would I put him in those same tough fights again? Yes." - @peterfury on @hughiefury— Hennessy Sports (@HennessySports) December 8, 2020
Hughie fights Mariusz Wach on the #JoshuaPulev card this Saturday pic.twitter.com/p803TFGzRM
Who knows where he may have been if he had. The fact is, he can fight and has a great chin, but he really does lack any significant power. He has talked about a more aggressive style following his three loses, and saw it in the dismantling of the lowly Pavel Sour in March.
Despite those losses, there is no shame to losing to top level opponents, which he has. However, he sees the experience as a learning curve and that those lessons will help him in the long run. He needs to start to put the lessons into effect on Saturday night.
Who is Mariusz Wach?
This is as seasoned a heavyweight as you can get in the current landscape. Name a fighter and Wach has most likely either been in the ring with them or sparred them.
With a career spanning 15 years now, at aged 40 he boasts a record of 36 wins, 19 coming by way of knockout and six losses with three knockout defeats.
He was unbeaten for seven years when he faced Wladimir Klitschko for the unified heavyweight titles in 2012. Going 12 rounds with Dr Steelhammer in his prime showed the steel of the Polish fighter for sure.
Since then, he's faced Povetkin, Jarrell Miller, Martin Bakole, Artur Szpilka and Dillian Whyte. As well as coming off the back of a win against Kevin Johnson on points.
Standing at six foot seven inches, he towers above most of his opponents and has the height and reach advantage over Fury. He is usually extremely durable, his career has proved that, making it unlikely that Fury will get the stoppage.
However, Wach is quite sluggish and, at aged 40, he may struggle to land anything significant on Fury who likes to box and move at range. In terms of matchmaking, it is a solid test all round.
Fury: "I’m looking forward to doing a job on him."
Speaking to DAZN, Fury claims he is looking forward to 'doing a job' on the big Polish fighter to springboard himself back into the big fights in 2021.
"He’s been in with some great fighters, pretty much everyone, including a World Title challenge. I’m looking forward to doing a job on him. This is definitely one not to miss. It’s been a while and I’m ready to show what I’m all about.
"Wach brings power and size, you can’t switch off for a second. I want these kind of fights as these fights will help me achieve what I need in boxing. I’m expecting a tough fight with Wach. I’ve seen a few of his fights and we’ve done our studying, training and sparring.”
Despite the losses, he believes he is good enough to get back in the ring with some of the best in the world, and win.
"I’m ready for all the serious fights out there, I’ve had vast experience and I belong on the world level. I expect to be knocking on the door for another shot at world honours again very soon. I’ve been living in the gym, working on a lot of different aspects of my game, perfecting what I needed to do.
"Everything happens for a reason. You’ve just got to stay patient and fight whoever they put in front of you. Boxing is about learning and taking fights. If you believe that you are the best, then you will take on anyone and everyone."