ENGLISH super-lightweight champion Joe Hughes sees his fight with unbeaten Anthony Upton has a step towards the big time.
The 25-year-old from Malmesbury in Wiltshire was touted as a future star when he turned professional in October 2010.
But a shock setback against Joe Elfidh three years ago coupled with a TV broadcasting shake up meant he dipped under the radar and he’s been slowly rebuilding ever since.
His fight with Upton at Walsall Town Hall this Saturday night (December 5) doubles up as a British title eliminator and Hughes feels a victory will put him back among the 140lbs division’s biggest players.
“When I turned pro I was with Frank Maloney and I was boxing on big shows on Sky. After Frank lost his TV deal, I was sort of left in limbo,” he said.
“My trainer took over managing me and we had to rebuild from scratch. I fought a few journeymen and went from there.
“I’ve won a couple of titles since and now I’m trying to push on again to get to where I thought I should be by now. I wanted the British title within the first two or three years and that didn’t work out, but now I’m moving towards big fights again.
“This might not be a final eliminator, but is an eliminator and that means a step towards the British title. I’ve been a pro for five years and it’s time that I pushed on. Winning will put me a position to face Tyrone Nurse in the future and hopefully I can go on to even bigger fights from there.”
Despite having one eye on the Lonsdale belt, Hughes says he’s not overlooking the threat Upton poses. In fact, he admires his opponent for stepping up to the plate.
He said: “Upton’s a good kid. I’ve watched a few of his fights on YouTube and he looks skilful. He’s tall, fights at long range and looks elusive, so he’ll be a challenge.
“Obviously, he’s unbeaten and that adds another dimension to the fight. I’ve fought a few unbeaten boxers and they always help me to rise to the occasion.
“I was initially surprised to be offered the fight to be honest. Lots of people these days are protected so it’s nice to see a kid who wants to just get in there and fight. I take my hat off to him.
“I’m always asking for hard fights because I want to move forwards. When I fight journeymen, it can be hard to get up for the fight, but facing someone like this gets me excited. I think it’s going to be a hell of a fight.”
Hughes v Upton tops a nine fight bill at Walsall Town Hall that also features two other Ricky Hatton-trained prospects.
Market Harborough super-welterweight Reuben Arrowsmith has his second professional fight, while hard-hitting Wednesbury welterweight Sam Evans is aiming to score another stoppage after blasting out Zaurs Sadihovs on his debut last month.
Also starring will be Birmingham middleweight Luke Heron, West Brom’s Tom Stokes, unbeaten Ludlow super-welterweight Craig Morris, featherweight prospect Jack Summers, Wolverhampton’s Des Bowater, and stylish Stoke super-lightweight Kieron McLaren.
Tickets are priced at £30 (general admission) and £60 (ringside). They can be purchased from Walsall Town Hall Box Office on 0845 111 2900 or directly from any boxer on the bill.