The younger Fury is a man of few words but he knows how formidable a challenge he faces in Pulev, the gnarled 37-year-old hardman who rarely leaves Bulgaria or Germany and who frightens more challengers away than are willing to take him on. The IBF ordered him to fight this eliminator – being televised by Channel 5 – against Dominic Breazeale but the American did not fancy it; talks with Dillian Whyte and Jarrell Miller then broke down, and then up stepped Fury.
As he said on Wednesday before heading for Sofia, “We tried to get straight back out there [after a controversial points loss to Joseph Parker], and the only person who wanted to take the fight at the time was Sam Sexton. We took that one just to get back. And same here, we took the first one. Straight in.”
It is a gamble, no question. Pulev has lost only against Wladimir Klitschko, who stopped him in five rounds four years ago, and has beaten among many quality opponents Samuel Peter, Dereck Chisora, Tony Thompson, Michael Sprott, Alexander Ustinov and Alexander Dimitrenko.
As Fury says: “He’s tough, very experienced. He doesn’t really like to come out of his back garden, so people don’t like to go there. It doesn’t bother me where the fight’s at, or who it’s against. It’s a fight.”
Going to Bulgaria does not daunt Fury; he first visited when he was 14. “We’ve got some close friends over there.
Fury has not had an easy rise, although he insists he has fully recovered from a rare skin disease that threatened to end his career. “I’ve never felt better. It took quite a while to get over it. What happened was I got rid of it and it just took my body a while to get back to where it is now, to get back to full strength. It was a virus that poisoned my system. I was ill all the time.”