“It’s not all fast cars and Mayweather-McGregor.”
ONE week after a Las Vegas circus, boxing returns to its own normality around the world this weekend. From the Guillotine Boxing Club in Queensland, Australia to the Doncaster Dome in England men and women will lace up the gloves for our entertainment and more importantly to make ends meet.
Maxi Hughes (16-3-2, 2 KOs) is no different. Cut from honest Yorkshire cloth, the 27-year-old is pressing the restart button on a dream to win a British title.
Having spent three of his last six fights dancing the fistic dance with Britain’s 9st 4 champion Martin Ward, Hughes drops down a level in prizegiving when he faces Liverpool’s Ryan Moorhead (9-1, 1 KOs) for the vacant Central Area Super Featherweight title tonight at the Doncaster Dome.
Hughes told Boxing News that motivation has been easy to find even though a Lonsdale belt is not on the line.
“It’s that fear of not letting him win for my own career, because if I lose I don’t know where I’d go.”
A frightening prospect for a man who knows nothing else but boxing. It is his life and one that his other half, the breadwinner as Maxi told us, has supported from the get go.
“I’d really struggle without her. I wouldn’t be able to take any time off or owt like that. She’s a real big help to me, for me to be able to go on with my career. She’s fully got my back and my boxing career.”
The realisation of what might happen in defeat isn’t lost on Hughes. The darkness of it all is something that he admirably puts to one side, but there is no sense of naivety. He knows it lingers in the background, he knows the consequences but he also knows what to do to banish it to the back, out of sight for the time being, to keep his career going and step back into the limelight where the coveted Lonsdale belt shines so bright in British boxing.
“I need to make sure that on the night I don’t box at his level,” Hughes said.
“I’d watched two of his fights on YouTube. One of his fights against a journeyman and his last fight where he had a decent win over Jordan McCorry up your way (in Scotland). I watched that. It weren’t a bad win for him, but then I watched my own fight back with Martin Ward and I can clearly see I’m levels above. Just need to make sure I’m switched on, focused, concentrated and if I box anything like I did in my last fight that’ll be too much for him.”
“I got tagged in a tweet where somebody told me that he’s training full-time. He’s been in that (MTK gym) Marbella in Spain, so he’s taking it seriously and he’s looking at me as a good scalp to have. It’s a big step up for him so he’s put a lot into it. I’m well up for it.”
The last time Hughes fought at Central Area level was in April 2013 at lightweight. A 98-94 defeat to Scotty Cardle. His tenth fight, his second against an opponent with a winning record. It feels like an eternity ago. Looking back on his career to date there are no regrets for Hughes. Sure, he would have done a few things differently but we all would if we were given the chance to turn back time.
Whether it has been a six rounder in Rotherham against Ibrar Riyaz, a Central Area title fight or nearly 30 rounds of boxing against Martin Ward, Hughes lives for every opportunity given and plans to make the most of it each and every time.
And after all tomorrow night is a new opportunity to win something he’s never won!
“I never picked it up against Cardle. I can pick it up, put it on mantelpiece and it’s another trophy. I win that and move on from that.”
Hughes did have an idea of challenging for the English strap should he beat Moorhead, but only found out recently that rising star Zelfa Barrett will contest the vacant title on October 21 against Chris Conwell in Leeds.
Barrett and Sam Bowen – or as Hughes calls him tongue in cheek Sam “Golovkin” Bowen – are two young bucks looking to sweep aside those that have been there and got the t-shirt in their division. Every man in the top 10 or 15 is a potential opponent for Hughes but it has to be worth his while, in his eyes. Something meaningful at the end of it all or what would be the point of risking it all just to be another name on a hot prospect’s record?
“If I got offered to fight one of them not for a decent title then I would question is it worth it?” he remarked.
“It’s almost like a no-win situation. If I beat them then it’s like ‘Oh yeah maybe they’re not that good’. And then if I got beat where would I go from there? I’d have to weigh it up for what it’s worth.”
When Hughes walks out on Saturday night he nor Moorhead will likely be wearing a balaclava, and there will be no pop star to sing a national anthem and no pay-per-view gazillions to be made. Just a worrying, honest gamble that could quicken the pulse on the career of the winner.
“When people watch boxing on telly they just think everybody gets paid an absolute fortune just because you’re on telly. It doesn’t work like that. There’s a lot to it. You might get one fight night on telly, and people might think it’s glamourous but the 12 weeks you spend in a smelly, dingy little gym getting punched putting sweaty wraps on, putting gloves on that stink… they don’t see that. They don’t know what that’s about.”
So Maxi Hughes will keep fighting the honest fight. The beat goes on as they say. And despite coming down with a touch of the sniffles, a niggle in his neck, not selling as many tickets as he would if he were fighting on television you won’t hear the man from the former mining village of Rossington making a song and dance of it all.
“There’s always days where there’s something, maybe you’re knackered and can’t be bothered with it and fed up with it. Something that mentally pisses you off which might make you mardy and pissed off for a couple of hours and fall out with boxing, but they don’t last and we all love boxing and that’s why we still do it.”
Despite his claims that he might quit should he lose against Moorhead you can’t help but think that Hughes will be prepared to put himself through the grind of it all again and again, regardless of the level of competition for the love of the game.