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Kubrat Pulev outlasts Hughie Fury in Bulgaria to land mandatory title shot against Anthony Joshua

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Kubrat ‘The Cobra’ Pulev 26-1 (13) has earned himself a second shot at a world heavyweight title with his comfortable points decision victory over Hughie Fury 21-2 (11) at the Arena Armeec in Sofia, Bulgaria on Saturday night.

The 37-year-old Bulgarian, who won by scores of 118-110, 117-111 and 115-113, becomes the IBF mandatory contender to unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua 22-0 (21).

England’s Fury, 24, got off to a smart start until Pulev opened up a cut over the visitor’s left eye with in the second round. The cut was in the same spot Fury that suffered a wound during his training camp for the fight and it affected his vision all night.

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“It wasn’t my night – the cut I suffered a few weeks ago opened up and it affected my performance,” said Fury after the fight. “Despite that, I gave it my all, went the full 12 rounds and ran him close. It was a big ask for my fans to travel all this way and I want to thank them for coming out in force to show their support.”

Fury had his best moment of the fight in the eighth when he landed a solid right hand that jarred the hometown favourite but he was unable to capitalise on the moment.

Pulev finished stronger down the stretch to claim a comfortable points victory in a fight that was ugly at times to watch.

Fury’s father and trainer Peter Fury said: “Hughie came into the fight with a cut above the eye. He was stitched up two weeks ago but they [the doctors] said it would heal in time for the fight and obviously it didn’t.

“Pulev caught him with a jab and split it right open. From that moment in the second round it was an uphill battle. I’m proud of my son – he was fighting on away soil, injured, yet he still went the full distance. If the cut hadn’t happened we would have seen a different outcome.”

The only previously loss on Fury’s ledger was a 12-round points decision in a world title challenge to then-WBO champion Joseph Parker of New Zealand in Manchester last year.

The only man to defeat Pulev is former long-time heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko, who stopped him in the fifth round of a world title defence four years ago.

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