World stage beckons again as Liam Walsh beats Maxi Hughes

Liam Walsh and Maxi Hughes, with their corners, after the clash at York Hall Picture: Chris Lakey

Liam Walsh and Maxi Hughes, with their corners, after the clash at York Hall Picture: Chris Lakey - Credit: Archant

Cromer's Liam Walsh moved himself back on to the world stage after coming through his first serious fight in two and a half years with flying colours.

The 33-year-old was a unanimous winner over Maxi Hughes at York Hall to secure the vacant World Boxing Organisation European lightweight title.

But much more important to Walsh will be his return to world rankings - which hasn't seen his name since he lost for the only time in his career, back in May, 2017, to Gervonta Davis.

Walsh returned to the ring in May with a facile stoppage win over a last-minute replacement journeyman - the Hughes clash was much more significant to his ambitions.

The build-up to the fight had been punctuated by a mutual respect between the two men, and it took a few rounds before the fight began to warm-up. Walsh was the aggressor with Hughes happy to keep his distance and rely on trying to land the occasional bomb.

By the sixth Walsh had had enough and goaded Hughes to trade punches, and the Yorkshireman - with world featherweight champion Josh Warrington acting as chief support at ringside - landed some telling blows. Walsh just smiled, dropped his hands and shipped a couple, but never flinched and returned with friendly fire of his own. The change of mood in the ring provoked a change outside of it in a raucous York Hall which was a cauldron of noise.

Hughes clearly buckled under a body shot at the very end of the eighth, but by then Walsh had begun to dominate and the final two rounds saw him demoralise his opponent who had little to offer.

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The unanimous decision (97-93, 98-92, 96-94) was no surprise - now Walsh will have to wait for his management company MTK Global, to find the big fights they have promised to one of British boxing's most under-used talents.