Maxi Hughes determined to retain IBO lightweight title in Leeds against Ryan Walsh

Maxi Hughes wasn’t even a full-time boxer when he won the IBO lightweight title at Headingley Stadium in September.

The 32-year-old from Doncaster, who is Josh Warrington’s training partner, won the belt with a dominant victory over Jovanni Straffon.

Leading into the fight, Hughes was still working as a painter and decorator and less than two weeks after his win at Headingley, he was back on the building site.

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The title win has opened up the opportunity for Hughes to become a full-time athlete and, tonight, he defends his belt for the first time on the undercard of Warrington’s IBF featherweight title fight against Kiko Martinez when he steps into the ring with fellow Brit Ryan Walsh.

Maxi Hughes during a media workout at Leeds Kirkgate Market Picture: Martin Rickett/PA

“The way I see it, although I am the owner of the belt, it might as well be vacant. I have to prove that I deserve it,” he said.

“It is great being full time but I haven’t taken it for granted. I know what it is like going to work, getting up in the morning and having to squeeze training in and eating on the go.

“I am doing it properly now. I know how much it means and I am not letting it slip.”

Sheffield’s Dalton Smith is also in action tonight as he faces Irish boxer Ray Moylette in a super lightweight bout for the WBC international silver title.

Maxi Hughes celebrates beating Jovanni Straffon at Headingley Picture: Steve Riding.