Maxi Hughes produces classy and dominant display to retain IBO lightweight title

Doncaster’s Maxi Hughes successfully defended his IBO lightweight title with a classy display against Ryan Walsh at the Leeds Arena on Saturday night.

By Ben McKenna
Sunday, 27th March 2022, 11:24 am
Maxi Hughes celebrates his win. Picture: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing
Maxi Hughes celebrates his win. Picture: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

The 32-year-old, from Rossington, is in the form of his career with Saturday's win his sixth on the spin.

Hughes was rarely troubled by Walsh as he took the fight by scorecards of 120-108, 119-109 and 118-110 in a dominant performance.

Hughes won the IBO strap with one of the fights of his career against Jovanni Straffon at Headingley in September.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Maxi Hughes lands a punch on Ryan Walsh. Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Hughes is the trainer partner of Josh Warrington and he was well supported by the home crowd, with chants of 'Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yorkshire' ringing around the Leeds Arena at regular intervals throughout the contest.

His last career defeat, which came in November 2019, was against Ryan's brother Liam - who was in the challenger's corner.

Both fighters looked to come forward aggressively early on but things quickly settled with the early promise of an all-out brawl quickly dwindling.

Hughes slightly shook Walsh in the second round and landed a strong uppercut but at the beginning of the third to wear his opponent down.

The champion was caught by a good shot later in the round but he responded strongly as Walsh ended the round with a cut above his right eye. Hughes had the answers to the questions being posed by Walsh as he countered well in the fourth.

With six rounds gone, neither man had done enough to seriously trouble the other. However, Hughes's corner would have been the happiest as he was landing with the majority of his shots and countering strongly against Walsh, putting him well ahead on the scorecards.

Some excellent work from Hughes in the seventh looked to take a lot of energy out of Walsh who, as the fight wore into the latter rounds, could not find a way to effectively trouble Hughes.

Hughes had been landing more of the cleaner shots as a cut was opened on Walsh's forehead in the 10th round. However, replays showed that it was an accidental clash of heads that had opened up the second cut on Walsh.

He had managed the bout expertly as Walsh knew he would likely need a stoppage to become champion as the bell sounded for the end of the 11th.

In the final round Hughes produced more of the same and even glanced a smile in the final seconds as he knew he'd done more than enough to retain his belt.