BN Column: Not the average Joe

Joe Hughes has not boxed since August 2020, although he is not officially retired. In his 24th fight at the BT Sport studio during the Covid-19 Pandemic, he lost on points over 10-rounds to Sam Maxwell.

In a new weekly column for Boxing News, the former European super-lightweight champion discusses his life without fighting and shares his opinions on some of the biggest topics in boxing.

Welcome to Not the average Joe.

FIRSTLY, I would like to thank Boxing News for giving me this column. Personally, it is nice to still feel relevant to the sport.

I have been in Switzerland this week. My sister lives over there, and it was recently my birthday. I am 33, but I keep telling everyone I am 23, although no one believes me. She paid for me and my family to go over there and visit them. My brother-in-law is Swiss-Italian, and they have been living over there for the last five or six years.

Boxing still comes up in conversations when I see her. We discuss life and whether I will fight again. Who knows, maybe one day, but realistically probably not. It depends on the opportunities that arise, the financial aspect, and the significance of the fight. It also depends on whether it reignites my passion or not. Most of our conversations were not related to boxing, which was nice. It was a break from being in the gym and coaching. Normally, I am at the gym from six o’clock in the morning until eight o’clock at night, doing various things. It was good to have a few days off.

The gym I train at is called Paddy John’s Gym, located in Warmley, Bristol. My coach, manager, and father-in-law is Andy O’Kane. I knew him before I met his daughter, and now we are married with three kids. When we got together, Amy understood everything about boxing and has been very supportive.

In boxing, many people are solely focused on making money. The fighter’s health is often low on the priority list in my opinion. However, Andy is different. He has lost money numerous times to put me in a better position. When I was boxing on small hall shows to rebuild my career, he would organize those shows at a loss just so I could fight and work my way up the rankings. I know that he genuinely cares about my well-being. Of course, he also considers that I am the father of his grandchildren. He would support whatever decision I make. I think if I never box again, he wouldn’t be upset about it. My wife shares the same sentiment; she doesn’t want me to fight anymore.

My dad has also played a significant role in my career. When I was a child, he would drive me all over the country for sparring sessions and has always been supportive. He doesn’t want me to fight anymore either. I don’t feel any pressure to continue boxing. I have achieved quite a bit and still have all my mental faculties intact. How much is it worth?

When I heard the news about Dillian Whyte, I wasn’t massively shocked because it has become quite common in the sport. There needs to be stricter measures in place for those who fail drug tests and are found guilty. In athletics, those who are caught doping receive significant bans, and they are only running to see who can run the quickest. They are not trying to harm the other person.

It will be interesting to see where Anthony Joshua’s mindset is on Saturday. He used to be must-watch TV, but his recent fights have not lived up to that reputation. He might be questioning why he keeps getting hit. Perhaps he can transform into a better version of himself, but I’m unsure if that is possible. I don’t know if it’s too late to change his style to get back to where he was. The second Usyk fight showcased one of the best performances of his career, although it was overshadowed by what happened afterwards. Hopefully, he can prove everyone wrong.

Helenius is a good opponent for Joshua to showcase his skills and potentially regain the belief of the public. Beating Helenius may not do much for Joshua’s standing in the boxing industry, but for casual viewers who are not familiar with the sport, it might make him appear brilliant. I don’t expect Helenius to pose any major challenges, but in heavyweight boxing, you never know.

This weekend, I will be working in a school teaching kids boxing at a holiday camp. On Monday, I will start working with a new kid in a mentoring role. I work with kids who are facing difficulties in school and other areas. My goal is to inspire and help people while making a living.

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