Maxi Hughes capped his recent resurgence as he won the vacant British lightweight title, stopping Paul Hyland Jr in the eighth round on MTK Global’s show in Bolton on Friday.
The ending was controversial, as Hughes’s final punch landed on Hyland after he had turned his back on him and didn’t see it coming, but for Hughes, nothing could ruin the night as he fulfilled a life ambition.
The 31-year-old Yorksireman is having the best days of his career. A year ago he seemed to be heading nowhere, but after beating Jono Carroll in an upset last August, he then beat Kazakh prospect Viktor Kotochigov in Dubai in October and now is British champion.
“I live the life, took the opportunity when it came and now look at this,” Hughes sad pointed to his newly acquired Lonsdale Belt. “Hard work, sacrifice, paid off.
“I had a goal of not only winning the British title, but to just keep achieving. I knew I could get these big wins on a big stage. My message is ‘stick at it. keep grinding’. This is my eleventh year. I didn’t give up.”
Hughes dominated the early rounds, as Hyland struggled to find his range and Hughes was able to outwork him. Hyland turned things around in the fifth round, though, as he landed well with a thumping right hand, although his momentum was stopped by a low punch from Hughes, which earned a warning.
But Hyland was hurt in the sixth, as a body shot was followed up by a four-punch combination to the head, Hughes kept the pressure on and Hyland was forced to hold as he looked to find his way through the round.
Hyland began the seventh well, landing to the body, but Hughes fired back with a hard left to the body and followed up with two to the head as Hyland’s resistance began to wear out. The Northern Irishman looked all in during the eighth round as Hughes piled in, but the ending was controversial.
Hughes landed a body punch and Hyland sagged to his haunches, although he did not actually touch down. Referee Mark Lyson had initially pointed Hughes to a neutral corner, only then to wave the fight back on. By then, however, Hyland was walking away to the other neutral corner with his back to Hughes.
Hughes then chased after him and landed a right hand on Hyland, which he did not see coming, laying him flat out on his back. Hyland made it to his feet at nine, but Lyson waved it off at 1:20 of the eighth round. The ending sparked fury in Hyland’s corner, with angry fingers pointed in Lyson’s direction.
Jamie Robinson and Billy Allington drew a competitive super-lightweight eight-rounder, with referee Howard Foster scoring it 76-76.
Robinson pressed a fast pace from the start and, while he was aggressive, his accuracy was not always the best. Allington boxed on the back foot and picked his shots well. He started and finished well, but Robinson’s pressure had the upper hand in the middle rounds.
Nathan Bendon ended the unbeaten record of Marbella-based Pole Eryk Apresyan as he claimed a narrow decision on the scorecard of referee Mark Lyson after a super-welterweight six-rounder.
Apresyan was on top for the first two rounds, but was badly hurt by a left hook in the third. Bendon waded in, but Apresyan held on and rode out the storm.
Bendon, who took the fight on four days’ notice, kept the pressure on Apresyan, but the turning point game in the sixth round, when Apresyan was deducted a point after throwing Bendon to the floor.
Lyson’s scorecard was 57-56. Bendon, who lost on points to Florian Marku in 2019, is now 4-3-1, while Apresyan drops to 7-1.
Shabaz Mahoud, who calls himself The Maverick, continued the unbeaten start to his professional career, as he moved to 8-0 with a fourth-round stoppage of Louis Norman in a scheduled super-bantamweight six.
Norman gave it a go in the first round, but Mahoud was still on top and dropped him three times in total.
Midway through the third round, Norman was hurt but a body shot and then Masoud dropped him with a left-right combination at the end of the round.
A heavy right dropped him early in the fourth and he was then down instantly from another right before referee Mark Lyson waved it off at 1:12.
Sean Gerrard Duffy had to overcome a nasty cut over his left eye before knocking out Paul Holt with a body shot in the third of a lightweight four-rounder.
Duffy was aggressive throughout and showed neat combinations, although Holt fired back well.
The end came 1:03 into the third round, as he opened up Holt for a left to the body. Holt never looked likely to beat referee Howard Foster’s count.
Duffy, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, is now 4-0 as a pro.