Alex ‘Bad News’ Hughes determined to put below par performances behind him and shine in spotlight
Maerdy’s unbeaten Alex Hughes (8-0, 3KO) is determined to make amends for below par performances by shining in the spotlight at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday.
Despite banking another eight rounds worth of experience in July, Hughes was disappointed with his last outing, having been stretched to the final bell by the uncompromising Yorkshireman Alistair Warren.
Hughes didn’t drop a round on referee Martin Williams’ scorecard but he did share three of them, running out an eventual 80-75 winner. It was a fair reflection of the fight at the Ice Arena Wales and Warren’s smothering of the prospect’s work.
‘Bad News’, as he known by his swelling fan base, was given a slot to open the BoxNation television broadcast. The 22-year-old concedes it was an opportunity half-missed and believes he’s capable of better.
Hughes said: “I know I’m so much more capable of doing so much better than that. It’s frustrating because a lot of people got high expectations and sometimes I feel bad when I perform like that. It’s not only letting other people down, it’s letting myself down too and I won’t let that happen again.
“This camp, my main focus has been getting myself in condition because I know if I’m on it, I’m ready to go with anyone at domestic level. I’m expecting, the way I am in the gym, to do the rounds comfortably as well. I’m going in to the fight with no doubts, knowing everything I could have done, has been done.”
The scene in the changing rooms after Hughes’ eighth win was a somber one. It showed the high hopes manager Gary Lockett and promoter Frank Warren have for the Welshman and in a weird way, a refreshing reassurance of his talent.
He said: “It’s the kick up the arse I needed – 100%. The extra push and drive it’s given me… all my team-mates know what I’m capable of doing. Them seeing me perform like that is just as frustrating for them as it is for me.
“They’ve got behind me so well and really pushed me on this time. I know my ability is there but it’s been more of a mental thing with me. At the minute, I’m feeling in a real, real good mental place. That’s more important than anything.”
An increased strength regime is aiming to add extra resistance to Hughes’ armory and he has brought onboard Dan Forbes, who works out of the U-Fit Gym in Cardiff Bay. Forbes has previously worked with British champions Liam Williams and Nick Blackwell, adding another level to their performance.
Hughes said: “Mentally, I’ve changed things. I’m more switched on and it’s matured me. I’ve got a different guy on board now with Dan Forbes who is helping me with my strength work.
“I’ve never done this stuff before. Physically, I think it’s improving me a lot. It’s stuff I’ve not done before and I expect to be stronger in the ring. It should make a difference in there.
The six-footer should own a notable size advantage over most opposition. However, it’s still unclear where Hughes’ future lies and he’s still in the process of understanding what weight division his body is better suited in.
Explaining the situation, he said: “I’m not sure yet, no. This fight is at 11st 11lbs [between middleweight and super-middleweight]. We’re looking towards super-middleweight in the future but if a good opportunity come at middleweight first, we could get down to it.”
Recognised in Wales as one of the country’s most skilled operators, Hughes has gained wider appreciation and continued to work with three-time world title challenger George Groves. Travelling to London on a frequent basis, Hughes feels he’s gained as much from the spars but refuses to boast about them.
He said: “It’s all well and good performing in the gym but it don’t really mean anything. People can say what they like about me in the gym but it’s about time I started taking it to the ring and doing it where it counts.
“The first start to that is Saturday night. It doesn’t go on your record if you’re doing well in sparring, does it?”
It’s likely to be enough to overcome the game Harry Matthews (14-20-2, 2KO) on 26 November in Cardiff. However, the Yorkshire visitor is always in shape, evident when he dropped Deeside’s Tom Doran in the final round of their scrap in 2014. Matthews enters the contest having scored back-to-back wins and Hughes is wary of the threat.
He said: “Of what I’ve seen of him, just by looking at him on the internet, he obviously keeps himself in good shape all year. A stablemate of mine, Nick Blackwell fought him as well, he’s told me a few things about him.
“I know he’ll be game, strong, fit. I haven’t looked in to it too much. He’s only been stopped once and that was on a rib injury, so I’m expecting to go with him for eight full rounds.”
With the boost of broadcasting powerhouse BT Sport entering a partnership with BoxNation in 2017, Hughes’ progress towards title level is well timed and he’s one of many boxers who are likely to benefit from the new deal.
He said: “It’s a massive boost, isn’t it? I’m really fortunate to be around now because Welsh boxing is back. I do think it died off for the last few years but with Liam [Williams] leading the way, we’re back.
“The last show was a fantastic night and I think the Welsh public are really getting behind us as well. The idea of a title fight is really exciting for my fans, too. Doors should start opening up for me if I keep winning. ”
The aforementioned Williams is Hughes’ closest stablemate. The pair share circuit training, spars and track sessions together. With Williams currently reigning as British super-welterweight champion, Hughes has been able to progress with him and he’s grateful for their united fan bases.
Concluding, he said: “With me and Liam being five miles away from each other, where we live in the Rhondda will be like a ghost town. The fans unite and every shot you land, they lift the roof.
“I believe for me personally, it’s a massive help when you have all of those people cheering you on. I couldn’t thank them enough and I know they’ll be the same on Saturday.”
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