THE CONSUMPTION OF nigh on 10,000 calories a day might, for some people, be a finger-licking prospect. For Hughie Fury it is what the doctor ordered and there is little or no room for indulgence.
As his career was shaping up nicely and he was becoming a heavyweight force to be reckoned with, Fury found his strength and stamina deteriorating, not to mention his crucial body weight.
An army of specialists were drafted in by his father and trainer Peter to determine exactly what was sapping the strength of the currently 19-0 man of huge promise, who will perform in front of the BoxNation cameras on April 30 at the Copper Box with the aim of starting off his professional belt collection.
If there is any truth in the saying ‘you are what you eat’, then Fury is certainly going to amount to something considerable. However, it was certain food groups that were the underlying cause of his condition as tests revealed a multitude of food allergies.
The boxing mantra of ‘eating clean’ applies to Fury now and forever, with treat meals and treats strictly off limits. The hefty calorie count has to be realised by packing away plain, wholesome goodness.
“I was going downhill and I couldn’t even pick up 10kg weight or anything,” recalled the charming 21-year-old. “It was to do with food and I had a lot of allergies that I never knew about. I had it all checked out and literally I’m allergic to everything!
“To chicken, some sorts of fish, all dairy products you put in your protein – it is a nightmare! Even going to a restaurant because there is literally about ten pages full of things I’m allergic to.
“What it is, it doesn’t affect me on the outside so I didn’t know about it. It affects my body on the inside so it was breaking me down, but I am onto it now, everything is sorted and I am on the right track.”
The bulk eating, he added, is a result of his prolific burning off of calories.
“Yes I’ve got a very fast metabolism, I went for a test and they said it was the fastest they have ever seen. To maintain my weight during training takes 9-10,000 calories a day.
“Yes I’m pretty much eating all the time… All plain foods and vegetables, but I can’t have cucumber though!
“From now on I just can’t touch anything I shouldn’t, I have to stay clean for the rest of my life and stay off junk. I have to eat healthy every day.”
Fury’s April 30 date at the Olympic Park venue marks the joining up of himself and his team with promoter Frank Warren and BoxNation and he is straight into title action, vying for the WBO Intercontinental title against American Fred Kassi.
It is not lost on the young stylist how the combination propelled his cousin Tyson into world title contention. Tyson, of course, ultimately shook up the heavyweight scene with his outfoxing of Wladimir Klitschko in November of last year.
“This is my second visit (to BoxNation), I fought in the Copper Box before against Matthew Greer and had a good performance and I am happy to be working with Frank again. Hopefully he has got plenty of shows coming up and I will be fighting regularly, so I am looking forward to that.
“BoxNation got Tyson to the world title and the world stage where he’s at – it gave him that extra jump. Frank Warren knows what he’s doing, he has been in the game a long time and is probably the best out there.”
This time around Fury is headlining the show alongside the return of Liam Walsh to the ring with a defence of his British and Commonwealth titles, Ovill McKenzie’s shot at the European cruiserweight crown, Ryan Walsh’s second defence of his Lonsdale belt and Jamie Conlan’s bid to seize Commonwealth honours at the expense of Anthony Nelson.
“Top of the bill now so it is good and I am looking forward to it – my first headliner,” stated a smiling Fury, adding that if he is on last this time around it will be for the right reasons.
Last time out at the end of March, he didn’t step into the ring at Wembley until the early hours following Nick Blackwell being hospitalised after his encounter with Chris Eubank jnr.
The experience proved mentally challenging for Fury, given the on-off status of his fight with the seasoned Dominik Guinn, who he eventually overcame via a shut-out points decision.
“Definitely! Last time I was on last it was at 1o’clock in the morning! They said the fight was cancelled, then back on – it was a lot of hassle and it didn’t get televised either.
“It wasn’t easy. I was there warming up before the fight and they said I would be on in five minutes. I then get outside and the fight is called off. I sat down and they were arguing back and forth saying they didn’t want to put it on and then it was ‘yeah, you’re back on’ followed by ‘no, it’s off’. I was warming up and down and it became a joke.
“So basically I went in there and they didn’t put the music on or anything, basically just in the ring, bells goes, rounds done and that’s it. Tyson had to do the ring cards because there was no-one there, they had all gone.”
While Fury shared the obvious concern for Blackwell’s well being, he rightly wished to continue the ring education mapped out by father Peter, with little in the way of early nights.
Single punch finishes are not on the Fury curriculum due to the lack of learning and ring craft involved. Fury senior wants his son to cover every angle on his rise up the heavyweight tree, getting the rounds in against an assortment of opponents who will present a variety of puzzles for him to solve.
“I’m just used to getting in there at the end of the day. I don’t want much, I just want to go in there and learn my job properly. That’s what I’m doing, I’m taking fights that no other heavyweights are taking, taking fighters that make you look bad and that people have avoided. I’m taking them because I know, in the long run, it will help me out.
“I am learning my trade properly, against all these difficult styles I will learn from it. I’m not just getting in there and knocking people out, I am doing my job properly.
“He (father Peter) definitely doesn’t give me easy ones but it helps me in the long run, so it’s good.”
The obvious high-profile comparison is with Anthony Joshua, who recent gobbled up a portion of the heavyweight pie by flattening the inadequate IBF champion Charles Martin.
The 26-year-old Joshua has had 16 bouts, spanning just 32 rounds of combat. Five years his junior, Fury has clocked up 85 rounds from his 19 contests.
Fury is sure that racking up the rounds across what he believes is a genuine apprenticeship will serve him well for when he swaps leather at the elite end of the business.
“Yeah, but you know what it is, he is obviously being fed, but when he comes into a fight he is not going to know how to deal with it,” he reasoned on Joshua’s miles on the clock. “He is knocking people over left, right and centre and, whatever he says about sparring, it is not the same as fighting.
“You’ve got to learn all these different things and that is what I am doing now, learning my job properly, so when I do fight for a world title I am going to win it in style. I will know exactly what I am coming up against.
“What I have done so far is start from scratch, I’ve come into the pros and I’m learning. I’ve got the rounds under my belt, I know I can do them and I’m achieving the hard way and not getting fed easy opponents where I am knocking them over.
“I am not getting looked after and wrapped in cotton wool, I am getting put in with fellas who can give me problems. I am dealing with them so I am learning the proper way.”
Prevailing against Kassi will put him in position to step it up, providing him with a ranking and route to fulfil his ambitions. Fury’s overriding priority, it seems, is more about staying active and putting his daily grind to good use.
“Of course, I’ve had 19 fights and unfortunately I’m not ranked anywhere. So in my second fight with BoxNation I will be ranked by the WBO and be on the up.
“It is like when I first started off fighting, I was boxing near enough every month, every two weeks and, one time, just a week later. I enjoy that, I am in camp training 24/7 and I am a fighter who likes to stay busy. What is the point of training your guts out every single day if you’ve got no fights?
“So instead of waiting four or five months, what’s the point, as I am ready and will fight anyone. Listen, I am confident in my ability and I get in there and do the job. Every week would be perfect for me, if possible!”
An ongoing saga for Fury is getting jilted by opponents before they get the chance to walk up the aisle to the ring. Perhaps it is a consequence of his desire for challenging conquests, but scheduled opponents regularly give him a swerve, often resulting in him ending up on blind dates.
“To be honest with you I am used to it,” he sighed. “There is that many people pull out and I have to fight others at the last minute – the list is crazy. There is no-one who says they will fight and then they stick to it.
“It is like my last fight should’ve been for a title, but the lad pulled out the week before the fight.
“I believe it now when they get in the ring to fight, because I am not going to get all hyped up, watch all the videos and then get told ‘he’s not coming, on to the next’.
He even missed out on a date in Dusseldorf, where he was supposed to provide a support act to what many believed was Tyson’s reenactment of Mission Impossible.
“Yeah that was disappointing, I worked hard for that fight. Do you know how many people pulled out that week? The guy who had three months notice, he pulled out a week before the fight, then there were about six or seven people who pulled out during the week after saying they would take the fight. In the end we couldn’t get anyone.
“It would’ve been special, but it was Tyson’s night and he done the job, which is all that matters.”
The world champion will seek to do the job again on July 9 when Klitschko comes back for seconds in Manchester. Other claimants to the heavyweight crown, in the eyes of the younger Fury, are little more than imposters.
“I don’t really see much of the heavyweight division. The only person who is world champion is Tyson, I don’t really class all the others as champions because they have been given the belts.
“Tyson is the champion to me and he has opened the division right open. If it wasn’t for Tyson, the IBF wouldn’t be open, he has unlocked it. He beat the man, but not many people seem to realise that.
“There is only one heavyweight champion of the world and that is Tyson. He beat the best to get it and got the belts, but one got took off him.”
Although clearly not shy of expressing his views on exactly who is the dominating force on the world heavyweight scene, Fury is a polite and respectful character who, by his own admission, is quite content flying under the radar for now.
“You know what it is, I am different and like to keep myself to myself. I am not one to blag out other fighters because I respect all fighters and it takes guts to get in the ring. I am my own man and like to do my talking in the ring. I’ll fight anyone and let my fists do the talking.”
In contrast to his occasionally more extrovert cousin, Fury is reserved and happy to be setting about making his own mark on the sport. By his own description, he paints himself as cool, dark and brooding, with Tyson being somewhat more on the erratic side.
“We are two different characters, he is like Mr Bean and I am like Al Pacino!
“My goals at the minute are to get as many fights in as possible, to have good fights against good opponents, keep learning my job and, when the opportunity comes for a world title, to take it with both hands.
“That’s it, I’ve got a good team around me now with Frank Warren and my dad, Mick as well, and they are all guiding me on the right path. I am just going to knuckle down, keep in the gym and get the fights.
“We’ve got our own gym in Holland, it is out of the way and there are no distractions. What we do there is train, eat, sleep, repeat.”
With no defeats on either his – or Tyson’s – card, the formula is certainly working and you wouldn’t bet against many more repeat performances.