BOXING: Malmesbury's Joe Hughes in the mood for titles after comeback win
IT IS three years since Joe Hughes last won a title and the Malmesbury fighter is itching for a new belt.
Joe was crowned Senior ABA light welterweight champion in 2010, turning professional soon after when overlooked for a Commonwealth Games place by Team GB.
But in three years he has managed just eight pro bouts due to recurring injury problems.
A 100 per cent fit Hughes was back in the ring at Trowbridge Civic Hall on Saturday night, winning every one of the six rounds against the vastly experienced William Warburton from Manchester.
Twenty-three-year-old Hughes, who is ‘under new management’, is keen to make up for lost time, and that includes a tilt at some titles in the New Year.
Hughes’ former manager Frank Maloney, who guided Britain’s first ever world heavyweight champion, Lennox Lexis, decided to retire from the sport after 30 years earlier this month.
“My contract with Frank was running out in any case,” said Joe, “so I have signed a management deal with my trainer Andy O’Kane, who also looks after English middleweight champion Danny Butler among others.
“Andy is already working hard to get me some fights and it looks like I will be on the Keith Mayo promotion at Swindon’s Oasis on December 7.
“All being well, I will be looking for either a shot at the English light welterweight title (held by Shayne Singleton) or perhaps the Southern Area light welterweight title early in the New Year.”
Either fight would see Hughes, whose only pro defeat in eight fights came in hotly-disputed circumstances against Joe Elfidh, testing himself over ten rounds for the first time.
Joe had done his homework on the durable Warburton and stuck rigidly to his game plan.
“He’s a tricky awkward customer who is hard to hit – I think he has been stopped only a couple of times in almost 70 fights – and then early on in his career,” said Hughes.
“He has fought principally at welter or light middle so he had a natural weight advantage over me, and he weighed in 3lb heavier than the agreed limit of 10st 7lb.
But that did not bother me because I was so keen to fight again after being out of the ring for more than a year with hand and knee injuries.
“I knew he was capable of some good counter punching as he ended the unbeaten run of Lydney’s Chris Higgs with a stoppage last year so I used my jab a lot, did some good work inside to the body, and then kept my distance.
“I felt fresh and stronger than him throughout.”
The popular Hughes was responsible for some of the excellent atmosphere at the Trowbridge Civic Hall.
“It’s not the biggest venue, but there was a real buzz about the place – a lot of it created by the 120 fans I brought along,” added Joe.
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