Considering all that has been going on in the world around him, and the rest of us, 2021 has actually been a relatively busy year for the Beeston boxer, Joe Underwood Hughes.
With two fights already under his belt, Saturday night at the North Notts Arena will see the super-featherweight, unbeaten in six, look to progress him further into the title picture.
Victories over Sam Melville, and Senegalese fighter Matar Sambou, have certainly put Hughes, 6-0 (1), in good stead for his last outing of the year, both of which brought differing levels of satisfaction to the fighter.
“Facing Sam (Melville), it was a great fight for me to have, especially after around 18 months out (because of covid),” began Joe.
“Afterwards, I actually stayed in the gym, so when it came to the Matar (Sambou) fight, I was ready, just needed to step things up a little.
“Prior to that fight (Sambou), I actually got covid the month before, so to go in there, and to win that fight, made it more satisfying for me.
“It was a polished, all-round performance for me, although the win against (Jordan) Rodriguez (PTS6, in October 2019) was probably my toughest, best fight.
“I’ve improved though, because of the fights I’ve had; you have to be continually testing yourself and the skills, tools you have, both in and out the ring.
“There’s always going to be things I’m not pleased with, but we iron them out, and look to put out a better performance next time around.
“So, with this one, I’ll be doing six round again (the Rodriguez fight being Hughes’ only over that distance, to date), which suits me really as I’m better equipped the longer a fight progresses, and it’s what this camp has been tailored towards.”
Hughes’ opponent, on 20 November, granted a fighter with a losing record, Zimbabwean, Taka Bembere, a 1-20 (1) ledger, is someone Hughes isn’t taking lightly, being aware of how tough an opponent he is, and the kind of fight he brings.
The solitary win on Bembere’s record, in his third outing, was back in July 2018, but of those twenty losses he’s suffered, he’s actually only been stopped three times, and has a decent record going the distance when over six rounds, including against Hughes’ fellow Notts fighter, Brad Daws, back in October 2019 (a fight card topped by the Engine, Ekow Essuman).
“I’m looking for a really good performance,” admits Hughes, ahead of Saturday’s show in Worksop.
“I don’t go in there looking for stoppages, so if it doesn’t come, then I’ll still be happy to collect the win.
“Then it’s onto next year where we’re hoping that I’ll be making the steps towards title level at some point, beginning with an outing in what, March maybe.
“Hopefully there’ll be no rust (after the winter festivities), but you have to be sure (before stepping up for title fights).
“We’re also wanting an eight-rounder under my belt before I do make that step up to those ten round title fights, and looking at the Midlands Area, which is currently vacant.”
A title last held by Staffordshire’s Josh Baillie, presently 6-6 (3), back in 2019, it’ll be interesting to see the challengers for title, a stepping stone to English, which is currently held by London’s undefeated fighter, Liam Dillon, 10-0-1 (2), and beyond.
Although options are minimal, they could well include that of Lee Glover, 11-6 (3), from Tipton, West Midlands, who may fancy another tilt – Notts fight fans may recall him from opposing Leighthal Leigh Wood for the Midlands featherweight strap back in 2016, and has also challenged for the English super-featherweight; there’s also a possibility of an all-Notts affair with Brad Daws, 7-1 (2), that could be an interesting clash – super featherweights though, are at a minimum, so time will, of course, tell with this one.
For Hughes though, he’s happy, content, with what is happening in his fight career right now, more as he has recently signed a new contract with manager, Scott Calow, for another three years.
“I’m grateful for what has been a really busy year, and, after Saturday night, I’m looking forward to spending some quality time, over Christmas and New Year, with family and friends,” concluded Joe.
“As for the new contract, yes, I’ve added another three years with Scott (Calow Promotions/Boxing Connected).
“I’m more than happy with that, and in working with him, as he’s a great figure to have in my life.
“He keeps me working hard, and focussed, and deserves to get a lot more credit for what he does, which is being a great manager and trainer.”
Joe Underwood Hughes faces Taka Bembere, over six rounds, on the Scott Calow Promotions/Boxing Connected show on November 20, at the North Notts Arena, Worksop.
*Article provided by Peter Mann (Senior Correspondent).
*Main image @ScottCalow Joe Underwood Hughes in his last fight v Matar Sambou.