JOE HUGHES has his fingers crossed that he’ll still be able to engineer another crack at the Southern Area light-welterweight title after illness robbed him of the chance to challenge for the belt last weekend, writes Dan Barnes.

The 23-year-old was due to take on Essex’s John Wayne Hibbert in Grays last Saturday but was pulled out of his title clash by manager and trainer Andy O’Kane after a virus wrecked his preparations.

Hibbert instead won the International Masters belt, which Hughes himself claimed with victory over Kristian Dochev at Bath in April, and the Malmesbury fighter is hopeful the pair can re-arrange their Southern Area showdown.

“If it was up to me, I would have fought last weekend but my manager pulled me out because I’d been ill,” said Hughes.

“I had a virus and I went to the doctors to get some antibiotics but it just didn’t get better. I was coughing and spluttering all the time and every time I went to training, I just felt really weak.

“I was gutted to have to pull out but my manager did it in my best interests.

“It was going to be a tough fight and there would have been no point in going into it not properly prepared. If I’d fought and lost, I wouldn’t want to be making excuses.

“I don’t know if the fight can still happen or not but I’d like to think that we’re both still the top two contenders, so hopefully we can make the fight happen later in the year.

“We’re looking at trying to get another fight for me in September and it would be great if we could get him down here then but I’ve just got to wait and see what happens.”