Maxi Hughes: The Opportunist

A few more pages were added to the Maxi Hughes success story in Bolton 12 days ago.

In what has been a pleasant and unexpected turn of fortune, Hughes picked up his fourth consecutive win which gave him the British lightweight title against Paul Hyland Jr. After years of near misses and tough fights, the 31-year-old has went from strength to strength since February 2019.

At that time, a four-rounder against Kris Pilkington, mixed in with a lengthy undercard on a Stefy Bull show in Doncaster, gave him the 20th victory over his career. Jono Carroll became number 21, Viktor Kotochigov 22 and Hyland takes him to 23 wins spanning a ten-and-a-half-year career. A career where he has been on the wrong end of a decision in some domestic fights.

Boxing Social caught up with Hughes last week and the Yorkshireman had been having a bit of a nightmare on the day we spoke to him.

“Because it’s nice weather I thought I’ll get lawnmower out and cut the grass, but the lawnmower’s been stood all over winter. It’s a petrol one and it’s fucking not started so I can’t cut my grass.”

It is the normality of Hughes which can make the ordinary man on the street a fan of his. A painter and decorator by trade, the two-time British super-featherweight title challenger told Boxing Social in a previous interview that he was hoping to buy a new Ford Transit. And if there was ever the opportunity of a big fight against someone like Devin Haney, he would roll up to the press conference in his new van.

The vehicle hasn’t been bought yet, but the thought of such individual luxuries isn’t what have kept him going all this time. A consummate professional, ready at short notice, means he is always available to step in when needed. As was proven in the Hyland fight which Hughes took at four weeks’ notice.

“Just by staying ready and being active I were able to take this fight on four weeks’ notice so I were in a good place to say yeah immediately knowing that’s not gonna be an issue with my fitness, with my weight or owt like that. That’s been a plus and that’s been good to know and to have that.

“I don’t know if my opponent thought that would help him that I were taking it on four weeks’ notice, that I wasn’t going to be as fit as him because I know Paul Hyland were originally meant to box Liam Walsh. Their previous fight were cancelled so he had plenty notice for this fight so I don’t know if he thought I weren’t going to be fit enough or able to make weight. I knew I were more than capable of doing everything right and getting the win.”

That he did. An eighth round TKO was the official verdict but the notes prior on any journalist’s notepad would tell a story of complete control without hitting top gear. The fight went according to plan for Hughes and trainer Sean O’Hagan as the fighter explains.

“We went into it with a plan to target Paul’s body,” he told us. “What we watched [of him] we thought he were a bit vulnerable to body so the plan were always to go to body. So, I went to body early-ish and I knew I hurt him because I heard the noises he were making. I physically saw him wilting a few times, noticed his body language were looking for a way out. The plan were to go to body and it worked. And again, it went exactly to plan. It all worked out.”

The British title is now in his possession at the family home. He jokes, “I’m not leaving that one on mantlepiece. This used to be a rough area where I live. Not having people peep through the window and nicking that.”

It’s a championship which has been a dream of his to win and one which he now ticks off his ‘to do’ list. As for what is next, well Hughes leaves that to MTK and promoter Lee Eaton. The new British champion has already had four fights in 12 months but the grafter hopes his team can get him another two or three championship fights before 2021 becomes 2022.

“There’s the option of defending the [British] belt and keep fighting for that. I think the European’s vacant. I think Francesco Patera vacated because I seen he’s fighting for a title in Italy, that’s a fight I’d like.”

Things couldn’t have gone any better lately for Maxi Hughes and few would begrudge him the purple patch he is having. He says this is the happiest he has ever been in his boxing career. And quite simply a large part of it has come down to living a life the way a professional fighter should. Boxing regularly, without periods of inactivity, is also doing wonders for him, too.

“It feels like I’m boxing regular, but I enjoy that because I’m in the gym all the time, I’m always improving and always ready to take fights when they come. It feels good. And that’s how I like it. I think that’s why I’m doing so well. I’m getting better all the time and I’m better when I’m boxing regularly. Momentum, confidence and boxing regular definitely suits me better.”

Main image: MTK Global.