This week I sat down with IBO Lightweight Champion Maxi Hughes. We talked about his upcoming fight against Australia’s own George Kambosos Jr, which will take place on Saturday 22nd July in Oklahoma, USA.
With the fight of Maxi’s life just over the horizon the most obvious topic to talk about was well just that, with the fight taking place in America, Maxi is already over in the USA, and has started his training. He said that not many boxers from the UK get to go and fight over in America, and is very proud to be representing the UK, and is confident of coming back home victorious.
When Maxi started off boxing as an amateur he had no ambition of turning pro, however that would soon change, when he did decide to turn pro he had his sights set on the British Title, Maxi would have two attempts at the British Super Featherweight Title, the first was in Manchester with the debut of Lawrence Okolie, and the 4th fight of Katie Taylor’s professional career also featuring on the card. Manchester’s Anthony Crolla would headline the event facing off against Jorge Linares in their highly anticipated rematch. Whilst both Hughes and Crolla would lose their respective bouts, they say second chances come to those who wait. For Hughes this would come a year later against Sam Bowen, however the cinderella man didn’t yet have his fairytale story. After going down twice in the 7th, referee Victor Loughlin would call a time out at the start of the 8th round and the ringside doctor didn’t let Hughes continue after his right eye had become badly swollen. After these two losses at Super Featherweight Hughes knew that something needed to change. A move up in weight was the decision taken, and whilst the new journey at Lightweight didn’t get off to the best of starts as in only his second fight at Lightweight Hughes would lose to Liam Walsh in a fight for the vacant WBO European Lightweight Title. However things would soon change as only a year later Maxi would get his breakout win, whilst not for the British title, Hughes would cause a huge upset when he won by unanimous decision against Jono Carroll. With this win Hughes would get a chance to fight for the WBC International Lightweight title in Dubai, where he would once again pick up a unanimous decision win this time against Viktor Kotochigov. Now having claimed the WBC International Lightweight title there was only one thing left to do and that was to win the British Title, the goal that Hughes had set for himself when he first turned pro. Paul Hyland Jnr would be Hughes’ opponent and whilst Hughes couldn’t win the title in his first or second attempt, the phrase third time lucky comes to mind. If Hughes won he would have completed his goal, a loss and we would probably never see Hughes in the ring again. Bolton was the stage for the event with Lee McGregor and Shabaz Masoud also featuring on the card.
Hyland Jnr would suffer a cut on his scalp due to a clash of heads in the 4th. They say history repeats itself and for Hughes it did in the 8th round a right hook would lead to the stoppage, however it was Hyland Jnr who was on the receiving end of that hook, and Hughes who had just become the British Lightweight Champion. Some boxers once achieving their life goals walk into the sunset, however there are many who simply can’t stay away from the ring. Maxi had just achieved his goal but with the British Title their comes big promoters trying to sign you and for Hughes the prospect of a three fight deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing was simply to good to turn down. This was Maxi’s chance, now being backed by a big promoter it was his time to shine. In his first fight under the Matchroom banner, Jovanni Straffon would be Hughes’ opponent the fight would be for the IBO World Championship.
After an impressive 12 round unanimous decision win, Hughes would make two more defences of his IBO title under the Matchroom banner coming against Ryan Walsh and Kid Galahad respectively. After these wins there was talk of the big fights, however when Hearn couldn’t deliver, Maxi became a free agent and made the fight with George Kambosos Jr.
Now this brings us to the present day, Hughes has said that the change of promotions and therefore promoter is one he is looking forward to. Now working with Lou Di Bella and Top Rank, Hughes is ready for the biggest fight of his career one that he has personally asked for, he made the phone calls himself and signed the deal with Top Rank to fight Kambosos Jr. Hughes believes that George’s two most recent performances against Devin Haney were nothing to write home about and that whilst Kambosos has been in the big fights he doesn’t have the experience of bouncing back from defeats like Maxi does. Kambosos has lost his last two fights and this is the first time that we will see him in the ring since the losses. Whilst we know that Hughes can bounce back from defeats the question of whether Kambosos can still remains.
Although Hughes doesn’t want to look past Kambosos there will certainly be mega fights to make if Hughes does come back to the UK with a win. Gervonta Davis, Vasyl Lomachenko, Devin Haney and Shakur Stevenson are just a few of the names being mentioned, a win for Hughes would mean the sky is the limit if he does complete the job on Saturday 22nd July.