Although he is not officially retired Joe Hughes has not boxed since August 2020. In his 24th fight at the BT Sport studio, during the Covid-19 Pandemic, he lost on points over 10-rounds to Sam Maxwell.

In a new weekly column for Boxing News the former European super-lightweight champion talks about his life without fighting and gives his opinions on some of the biggest topics in boxing.

Welcome to Not the average Joe.

FIRSTLY, can I thank Boxing News for this column. Personally, it’s nice to still feel relevant to the sport.

I’ve been in Switzerland this week. My sister lives over there and it was my birthday recently. I’m 33. I keep telling everyone I’m 23 but no-one’s believed me yet. She paid for me and the family to go over there and see them. My brother-in-law’s Swiss-Italian and they’ve lived over there for the last five or six years.

Boxing still comes up in conversations the times I do see her. We talk about life and if I’m going to fight again. Who knows, hopefully one day but realistically probably not. Depends on what comes up, depends what money’s like or what the actual fight is. And if it’s something that gets the fire burning or not. The majority of conversations were non-boxing related which was nice. And it was nice to have a break from being in the gym and coaching. I’m normally in the gym six o’clock in the morning and then on and off during the day till eight o’clock at night doing different things. It was nice to have a few days off.

The name of the gym is Paddy John’s Gym. It’s in Warmley in Bristol. Andy O’Kane is my coach, manager, and my father-in-law. I knew him first then I met his daughter and we’re married with three kids. When we got together, Amy knew what it was all about. She understood everything and was very supportive.

A lot of time in boxing everyone’s out to make some money. It’s the most important thing in pro boxing and the fighter’s health is quite low down the ladder in my opinion. Andy is the opposite really. He’s lost money plenty of times to put me in a better position. When I was boxing on the small hall shows trying to rebuild myself in the mid-point of my career, he lost money putting on shows just so I could box and work my way up the rankings. I know that he’s got my personal interests at heart. But obviously I’m the father of his grandkids as well. He doesn’t want me to end up a vegetable. He’d support me with whatever decision I’d make. I think if I don’t ever box again, he wouldn’t be upset about that. My wife doesn’t want me to fight anymore either.

My dad’s been a big part of my career as well. As a little kid he’d drive me all over the country sparring and always been supportive the whole time. He doesn’t want me to fight anymore. I’m not under any pressure. I’ve done pretty well, still got all my faculties. How much is it worth?

I was still in England when I heard about the Dillian Whyte news. I wasn’t massively shocked only because it’s becoming common in the sport. The sport needs to be so much stricter on people who fail drug tests and are found guilty. In athletics those who are found to be doping get a massive ban and they’re only running over a line. They’re only trying to see who can run the quickest. They’re not trying to inflict damage on the other person.

It will be interesting to see where Anthony Joshua’s mindset is on Saturday. He used to be must-watch TV and his last few fights haven’t been that. He could be saying to himself why am I getting hit all this time? Maybe he can evolve into a better version of himself, but I don’t know if that’s possible. I don’t know if it’s too late to change his style so much that he could get back to where he was. The second Usyk fight was one of the best performances of his career I’ve seen. A lot of that was overshadowed because of what happened afterwards. Hopefully he can prove everyone wrong.

Helenius is a good opponent for Joshua to look good against and maybe inspire people to believe in him again. He may think a good performance, a good highlight reel knockout may put him back in the mix. For people in the boxing industry, I don’t think beating Helenius does anything for him. To the wider public who only watch the odd Anthony Joshua fight and maybe don’t know too much about the sport they might think he looks brilliant. I don’t expect Helenius to cause him any issues at all but it’s heavyweight boxing, so you never know.

This weekend I’ll be working in a school teaching kids boxing in a holiday camp. On Monday I start working with a new kid in a mentoring capacity. I work with kids that are having some trouble in school and stuff like that. Trying to inspire people and help people really and trying to make a living while doing it.