DANNY ‘Boy’ Hughes made a successful ring comeback after an 18-month absence last night, comprehensively outpointing the Czech Republic’s durable but limited Ladislav Kovarik.
The Sunderland heavyweight won every one of the four rounds at the Rainton Meadows Arena and has now vowed to make up for lost time.
The 27-year-old told the Echo: “I was maybe a bit ring rusty but I was full of confidence and felt fit in there.
“He was a real strong man but he wasn’t big and that made him awkward to hit at times but I got plenty of punches in and at one point I thought I was going to stop it when he wobbled under a left hook.”
That moment came in the dying seconds of the opening round when Kovarik ducked into a powerful left from the Castletown fighter and took several staggering steps before regaining his balance.
By that stage, the pattern for the bout had been set with Hughes dominating.- Kovarik coming out straight to the centre of the ring with the Wearsider circling him and using his long reach to great advantage.
The Eastern European’s face was already reddening significantly early in the second round with the weight of Danny’s gloves, as well as his ow exertions.
Kovarik simply couldn’t get near his opponent and at one point the journeyman trundled forward, arms wind-milling walking into a welter of blows to the face as he advanced.
By round three, trainer Tommy Conroy was urging his man to step it up and he did that, although the Sunderland man’s greater aggression gave his opponent a puncher’s chance.
The shaven-headed Kovarich attempted to take it, coming out like a torpedo at the start of the fourht and final round, looking to finally trouble his opponent.
But Hughes weathered the flurry and went on to win by a margin every bit as comfortable as the 40-36 points decisions.
“I’m glad to be back,” said Hughes afterwards. “I enjoyed it.”
Conroy said: “Danny did well but he can do better. There’ll be no time off for him now. We’ll go straight back into the gym and look to get another fight on as soon as possible.
“He needs it if he’s to keep up the momentum.”
* Kirk Gooding was another Sunderland boxer making something of a comeback on the Rainton Meadows bill last night - fighting for the first time since he impressed so much in his debut title fight six months ago.
Gooding took that British masters light-welterweight fight at just a few days notice back in November and did well, stepping up in class go the distance against Steve Williams.
Last night he was up against Dewsbury’s Youssuf Al Hamidi, a vastly experienced pro who frustrated and made life difficult.
The journeyman 35-year-old was fighting fit, nimble on his feet and elusive but Goodings won every round in a four-round contest rightly scored 40-36 by the referee.
“He made it hard for me,” the Sunderland boxer told the Echo afterwards. “But I always felt comfortable and in control.
“I’ve moved back to Sunderland now and I’m glad to be fighting after getting settled in the area again.
“It wasn’t the best of fights but I’ve got another win under my belt and I’m after more now as quickly as possible.”