BOXING: The only way is Essex – as Joe Hughes eyes his next title

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Boxer Joe Hughes (2827747) Boxer Joe Hughes (2827747)

MALMESBURY boxer Joe Hughes’s next fight will be for the Southern Area light welterweight title, the belt Terry Marsh won some 30 years ago before going on to become an undefeated world champion.

Hughes, 23, is due to tackle John Wayne Hibbert on Saturday, July 19 for the vacant title on his opponent’s home town turf – the Civic Hall in Grays, Essex where Hibbert has had his last five fights.

Hughes earned his shot with an emphatic points win over the Bulgarian Kristian Dochev in the International Masters championship at The Forum in Bath, his first 10-rounder and his first title bout as a pro.

“Since I turned pro I have wanted to box for titles and now I have got my wish,” said Hughes, the former Senior ABA champion.

“This is the fight I wanted and I have got there the old fashioned way – I have earned my shot.

Hughes sees the bout as a 50-50 contest on paper, despite Hibbert’s home town advantage.

“I’ve seen films of his fights and he appears to have everything,” said Hughes. “He can box, he’s strong and he can punch.

“He only lost his English title eliminator to the UK No.4 Dave Ryan by a couple of points.

“I imagine the fight will be a bit of a tear-up and I’m sure he will come and try to take my head off.

“It should be a great fight and I am hoping to take a fair contingent from Malmesbury to counter his big local following.

“I’ve fought away from home territory plenty of times both as a pro and an amateur so that does not bother me.

“He’s only had four more bouts than me, though he is already 29, and though I am ranked eight places below him (23 to 15) I see it as a 50-50 fight.”

Hughes knows that victory would take him that much closer to an English title challenge (current champion Tyrone Nurse) and then the British championship which is currently held by the colourful Curtis Woodhouse.

Formerly a professional footballer with the likes of Sheffield United and Birmingham City, Woodhouse still combines his pro boxing career with managing Northern Premier League side Goole.

“After a period when my career did not seem to be going anywhere and I was plagued with injuries, I have one title belt and I am now going for another,” said Hughes.

“I seem to be injury free now and I was delighted with how I coped with my first 10-rounder against Dochev. I made the weight more comfortably than I have in the past and I was still feeling fit and strong at the end of the 10 rounds.”

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