Hughes happy with the possibility of tackling hotshot Zepeda in Vegas

When Maxi Hughes lost a controversial decision to George Kambosos, he feared he would find himself at the back of the queue.

Instead, with Lou DiBella and Golden Boy, the Leeds man is likely going to find himself in another major fight at least, if not two.

Talks are ongoing to match Hughes with Golden Boy star William Zepeda, and he is a fighter who has been on Hughes’s radar for some time.

“With him being a lightweight and being heavily-promoted by Golden Boy I have seen him, the last couple of years, so I know exactly what he’s about,” said Hughes, 33, who is 26-6-2 (6 KOs). “What you see is what you get. He’s an aggressive, come-forward, high-volume puncher. He’s a southpaw but he’s not an awkward southpaw like myself. He doesn’t make it tricky. He comes at you.”

Hughes lost a majority decision to Australian Kambosos in Oklahoma last July on the back of a wonderful run of form that had seen him defeat Ryan Walsh, Kid Galahad, Paul Hyland and Jovanni Straffon.

Zepeda is 29-0, with 25 wins by stoppage, and The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas on March 16 has been booked by Golden Boy as the likely date and venue for Zepeda-Hughes.

The stakes are high, too. 

“I don’t know how it works but it will be ordered as the IBF’s final eliminator and they’ve also said it’s going to be a WBA eliminator for Tank’s title, so I don’t know how that works, but if I’m mandatory for both belts, it’s not a bad place to be,” Hughes added.

“I’ll fight any of them, but who’s going to pay me the most?”

The Zepeda fight, however, comes first and Hughes is pleased to still be in the mix. He was going to appeal the loss to Kambosos, but after the IBF did not reply to his initial email, Hughes missed the 10-working day deadline. 

However, the subsequent result has Hughes almost where he wanted to be.

“Usually, if you lose an eliminator, you’re either tipped out of the rankings or you’ve got to fight your way back,” Hughes added. “I had a lot of chats with the IBF, and I’ve got an email saying they had it [the Kambosos fight] re-scored by an independent panel of judges and they didn’t [say], ‘Oh yeah, you should have won it,’ they just said the bout outcome was scored different.” 

Hughes was then moved up to No. 5 in the rankings and an eliminator was called. 

“It’s probably gave me the result and outcome I probably would have had to pay $10,000 if they’d got back to me in those 10 days,” he said of missing out on the appeal process. 

“Ideally, I’d have been liked to have been made straight mandatory for Lomachenko, which George is going to be fighting for. But I think this is the next best thing and I haven’t had to go through the appeal. That’s what I wanted. I wanted to stay at world level and be involved in big fights.”

As well as that, Hughes gets to box in Vegas before his stablemate Josh Warrington, who has dreamed of a bout on The Strip, taking across his legions of Leeds fans.

“I get to cross Las Vegas off my list and fight in Vegas,” Hughes smiled.

Warrington instead seems to be headed to a summer fight in Nottingham with Leigh Wood after their excellent battle last year, which Wood won with a stoppage when trailing on the cards. It doesn’t make commercial sense for Warrington to box in Vegas if he can help fill stadiums in England.

“With the controversy of the Leigh Wood fight, there’s nobody who can give Leigh Wood that fight financially who can fill that stadium other than Josh, obviously Leeds will go down to Nottingham and fill that stadium,” Hughes said.