When Tyson Fury challenges dominant lineal heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko on October 24th in Germany, his 20 year old cousin Hughie (16-0, 8ko) will be on the undercard, boxing a former opponent of Tyson’s – American, Nicolai Firtha (21-11-1, 8ko).
Tyson boxed Firtha back in 2011, when he too was a heavyweight prospect (15-0), knocking the American out in 5 rounds, and there will be inevitable comparison’s when Hughie fights the Ohio native – albeit on a far bigger and grander stage than King’s Hall in Belfast, where Firtha’s first fight with a Fury took place.
After the fight with Tyson, Firtha went on to box Johnathon Banks and Deontay Wilder – the former, now ironically Wladimir Klitschko’s head coach – and although he lost both those fights, and hasn’t boxed in the 2 years since Wilder, the 36 year old will bring a wealth of experience into the ring with him that should hopefully ask further questions of the young Fury, having also gone the distance with Alexander Povetkin in 2010.
The 6’6″ Fury is coming off two 10 round UD wins in 2015 thus far as he continues to grow into the heavyweight division proper. A career best performance against solid Ukrainian Andriy Rudenko in February, and July’s shut-out over durable survivor, George Arias.
Both performances, while mature, drew negative criticism from some quarters about the 20 year old’s lack of power, although while his 50% knockout ratio is more than respectable, opponents are seemingly becoming harder to shift as he moves through the levels.
Firtha – who has been stopped 5 times in 11 defeats, is a perfect test for him as he develops his ‘man strength,’ and should he get the chance, provide an opportunity to secure his first stoppage win since February 2014.