Maxi Hughes becomes world champion with classy performance against Mexico's Jovanni Straffon

"And the new IBO lightweight champion of the world...Maxi Hughes."

Saturday, 4th September 2021, 9:48 pm
Updated Saturday, 4th September 2021, 9:56 pm
Maxi Hughes celebrates victory against Jovanni Straffon. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Through his own admission they were words Hughes never set out to hear when he started his journey as a professional boxer.

But Doncaster's newest world champion was crowned IBO lightweight king following a classy display against Mexico's Jovanni Straffon at Headingley.

This was Hughes' first shot at a world title but the Rossington boxer looked like a man who had done it on the big stage plenty of times before.

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Maxi Hughes celebrates victory in his IBO world lightweight title fight against Jovanni Straffon. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

After a cagey few rounds, he had the Mexican on the ropes for over a minute before assuming control in the final rounds to take the victory via a unanimous decision.

He came into the fight in great form, winning four contests on the bounce while picking up the WBC international lightweight and British title.

His opponent won the IBO title in his last outing as he scored a stunning first-round knockout win over Belfast’s James Tennyson in May. Of Straffon's 24 wins, 17 had come by way of knockout.

Hughes had suffered career five losses before prior to Saturday's contest but all of those defeats came in title contests.

Maxi Hughes gets the better of Jovanni Straffon at Headingley. Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

Given Straffon's impressive knockout ratio, Hughes refused to be drawn into a brawl in the first round and managed to land a couple of strong right hands on the Mexican.

The reigning champion had a steely determination in his eyes but Hughes showed his intelligence to keep him at arms length.

The pair exchanged strong blows in the second as Straffon looked to drag Hughes into close quarters but the Yorkshireman used his footwork and delivered a flurry of punches to get himself out of potential trouble.

Hughes came out on top in the third round as he landed a flush left hook and right-hand uppercut on Straffon who absorbed the shots well. Headingley had sold out its 20,000 capacity for the event with supporters continuing to filter in as Hughes and Straffon went to-to-toe.

Hughes, who is trained by Josh Warrington's father Sean O'Hagan, evaded a number of shots from Straffon in the fourth round and wrapped up the Mexican well to stop the reigning champion from building any momentum.

He dominated the fifth with Straffon showing incredible heart and resilience to survive until the bell. Hughes had the champion wobbled with a magnificent left hand before unloading a flurry of shots.

Straffon used the ropes to stay on his feet and tried to give just as good as he got in order to stay in the fight. Hughes started the sixth in the same manner that he ended the fifth as he continued to cause his opponent problems.

Straffon had lost three times in his professional career before Saturday's bout but he had never been knocked out with the Mexican displaying incredible stamina and bravery to overcome more strong combinations from Hughes while delivering a few strong body shots of his own.

A quieter seventh round followed an enthralling fifth and sixth but Straffon was expending a lot of energy throwing big shots that Hughes was able to dodge with ease.

The duo continued to be more measured in round eight with a similar approach adopted in the ninth until Hughes landed a combination in the final seconds.

By the 10th, it was clear that Hughes knew he was ahead on the scorecards as he exerted control without looking in danger.

Hughes smartly navigated the 11th round as he ducked several right hands from Straffon with the champion showing his frustration as he beckoned the Doncaster fighter towards him to no avail.

As the final bell sounded at the end of the 12th, Hughes celebrated with his trainer with chants of 'Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire' ringing around Headingley before confirmation that Yorkshire had a new world champion.