Maxi Hughes picked up the WBC International Lightweight title with a deserved points over the previously undefeated Kazakh, Viktor Kotochigov on the latest Rotunda Rumble bill in Dubai on Friday.
Hughes (22-5-2, 4 KOs) usually found his ceiling when going for domestic and continental belts, but in his last fight in August, he impressively outscored Jono Carroll behind closed doors in Wakefield, to set up a lucrative opportunity in the Middle East.
The early going was a feeling out process, with Kotochigov (12-1, 5 KOs) occasionally upping his work rate to put the odd decent shot through, but in the second round, Hughes landed with a left uppercut that shook Kotochigov up.
The Yorkshireman then backed that success up with a right hook as the Kazakh went into retreat. This was a warning sign for him, as in the very next round, the left uppercut again came into play, with Hughes landing it to perfection, lifting his foe off the ropes onto the canvas.
The 27-year-old took the eight count from the referee on a knee, and Hughes went in for the finish, landing power lefts and rights, but the referee possibly robbed him of an early night by mistakenly stepping in to end the round when there was ten seconds remaining.
The left hands were doing the damage for Hughes, and he enjoyed decent success in the fourth and fifth before his opponent found his second wind to bring himself into the contest.
HUGE KNOCKDOWN ‼️
A massive round three for @BOXERMAXIHUGHES as he drops Viktor Kotochigov with a wonderful shot.
Can Kotochigov recover ❓
— MTK Global 🌍 (@MTKGlobal) October 9, 2020
Hughes threw out a lazy right hook in the sixth, and Kotochigov countered with a hard right hand right on target.
He had the better of the seventh too, but in the eighth, the 27-year-old rocked his man again, as Kotochigov forced the issue, the left hook again causing the damage.
With a swelling on his eye, Kotochigov bravely tried to come back into contention, but Hughes sensed he was ahead, and used the last two rounds to safely box his way to the final bell.
Scores of 97-92, 96-93, and 95-94, all in Hughes’ favour saw him crowned the new champion, and the win also sees him gatecrash the WBC rankings, as his stellar 2020 continues.
There was other British interest on the card in the form of Liverpool’s Blane Hyland (3-1), but he suffered the first defeat of his career over six rounds against Dubai-based Egyptian, Mohamed Salah Abdelghany (4-2) at Bantamweight.
Two scores of 58-56, and a third at 58-57 sealed the win for the home fighter.
Precocious amateur talent, Hovhannes Bachkov (1-0) made his professional debut, and took every round of a good learning fight against experienced Venezuela Samuel Gonzalez (22-7, 13 KOs).
Three scores of 80-72 didn’t do Gonzalez justice, as he pushed Bachkov and gave him plenty to think about.
Unbeaten Indian Super Welterweight, Faisal Anwar (5-0, 4 KOs), took a 60-53 win across the board over six against JR Mendoza (11-20, 5 KOs), who had a point taken off in the fifth round for excessive holding.