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.
“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.