JOE HUGHES is plotting a course to not one, not two, but his next three championships after winning the first title of his professional career at the Forum in Bath on Saturday.

Hughes was presented with the title belt as the International Masters light welterweight champion after his runaway points decision over the durable Bulgarian Kristian Dochev. The official scorecard read 100-89 in the 23-year-old Malmesbury lad’s favour, meaning he won every round – gaining a two-point margin in the second round when he knocked his rival to the canvas.

Hughes, a former Senior ABA light welterweight champ, now has a pro record of nine wins in 10 fights.

He was delighted with his technically accomplished display and the manner in which he coped with his first 10-round contest, especially after weighing in at his lightest ever – 9st 13lb.

He also reserved some words of praise for the brave Dochev.

“I know I put him down in the second round and I was landing at will throughout, but I never once thought I was close to taking him out,” said Hughes.

“He just kept coming forward and was much tougher than I was expecting.

“When I fought from that weight (9st 13lb) before I felt drained after a few rounds but my fitness was excellent on Saturday and I felt good right up to the end.

“Also, after the last three fights my hands have been in agony and I have not been able to throw punches for a month. This time they are absolutely fine.”

Hughes, who took along a considerable fan base to Bath, now has his sights on bigger prizes. “I hope to have another local fight in June and then I will be looking to progress through to the Southern Area, English and then British titles,” he said.

“My coach and the spectators were all impressed with the victory and I hope this first big step for me as a pro will help to open a few doors.”