DANNY ‘Boy’ Hughes made a successful return to the ring last night with a classy victory over Croatian strongman Kreso Bogdanovic
The contest was stopped in the fourth and final round – the Eastern European pulling up with the unusual complaint of a damaged left forearm just 39 seconds into the last three minutes.
But regardless of the freakish injury, Sunderland heavyweight Hughes had been well on course for an overwhelming win, having got the measure of the pit-bull southpaw by the end of the first round.
Bogdanovic was a dangerous customer – only 5ft 9ins tall but weighing 17st 9lb – and he always had a puncher’s chance against a young boxer involved in his first fight since last October.
But a slimline Hughes showed a new-found maturity in the way he handled himself in the ring.
Gone was the counter-punching tactics he’s employed so far in his career, instead the 25-year-old was bolder, getting on the front foot from the start and trying to dictate the fight.
The opening round was scrappy as the two men sized each other up and both were warned for holding – Hughes having a cut opened above his right eye in one of the clinches.
Bogdanovic showed he could be dangerous with one early uppercut but by the end of an opening three minutes dominated by Hughes’ jab, the Sunderland man was getting the measure of his opponent.
The cut was a setback but the corner did their job well and an excellent combination from Danny early in the second round forced the Croatian back, Hughes keeping up the good work with shots to the head.
Bogdanovich tried to get in close for a telling blow but struggled and with Hughes dominating with his jab, the only danger looked to be that the young Wearsider might be tempted into over-confidence.
Within seconds of the third round starting Hughes was bossing the bout again with shots to the head and body, the Castletown kid having found his range now as his sweating opponent struggling to respond.
Bogdanvic circled the ring looking for a chink in his opponent’s guard but Hughes was the superior fighter and kept taking the fight to a boxer who was increasingly taking punishment while looking fresh out of ideas.
At the end of that first round, Bogdanovic had stood for a few seconds proudly taking his time to survey the arena before dropping to his stool. By the beginning of the fourth, he was slumped on it and breathing hard.
And after Hughes started the last round in confident style, perhaps it was no surprise that the visitor suddenly found himself with a problematic strain in his forearm and retired hurt.
It was the first time the Croatian had been stopped in his five fights so far and though it was far from a classic, Hughes could be content with his performance.
The advantages of his weight loss were obvious on the night and he showed glimpses of improvement in his boxing too,
Having got the ring rust and first fight out of the way, he can now look to push onwards and upwards in the months ahead.