Maxi Hughes wins British title with victory over Paul Hyland Jr

Resurgent Maxi Hughes landed the vacant British lightweight title with a controversial win over Paul Hyland Jr in Bolton on Friday night.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 11:44 pm
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 11:47 pm
Maxi Hughes throws a right shot at Paul Hyland Jnr during their British Lightweight title fight at University of Bolton Stadium. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

Rossington fighter Hughes stopped Hyland in the eighth round to secure a third straight victory and continue his remarkable turnaround in fortunes.

The 31-year-old came close to quitting the sport in 2018 but has since emerged as one of British boxing’s stand-out performers over the last year following wins against Jono Carroll, Viktor Kotochigov and now Hyland.

Hughes’ latest success came in controversial fashion – landing the winning punch after Hyland had turned his back on him.

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A Hughes body shot had forced Hyland onto his haunches without touching down. Referee Mark Lyson initially pointed Hughes to a neutral corner but then waved the fight back on while Hyland had his back to Hughes, who then took full advantage.

Hughes had dominated the early rounds and hurt Hyland in the sixth with good combination work. The Northern Irishman’s resistance faded in the seventh and eighth before the dramatic ending.

“I live the life, took the opportunity when it came and now look at this,” Hughes said afterwards. “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 was ready to quit boxing three years ago following a frustrating defeat to Sam Bowen for the vacant British super featherweight crown.

He told the Free Press in 2019: “I was done with it all. It was so disappointing to lose that last fight the way I did, with the doctor ending it, that I'd had enough.

“So for at least six months I’d retired. I just wanted to focus on the new baby and get away from it all.

“But I then had this feeling that I’d not achieved all I can in boxing. I'm still convinced that I can win titles at British, Commonwealth or European level.”