A long road to the pros for Morgan Hughes

A long road to the pros for Morgan Hughes

When promoter Lee Baxter informed FightOn that a young fighter by the name of Morgan Hughes would be making his debut on Feb. 10 at 17 Steakhouse in Mississauga, we had one question: who?

There’s little to no footage of Hughes online; none of his fights are available. His amateur records weren’t up to date. He was a mystery.

A little research showed that he was out of the HUF Gym, home to Kane Heron (10-0) and his trainer, Andrew Heron. A little more research and it was clear that Hughes was one of Heron’s main sparring partners for recent bouts.  

It doesn’t take a boxing savant to know that hanging around the HUF Gym is pretty good company to keep, churning out some of the finest boxers in the province. In speaking with Hughes, it becomes clear that Ontario could have another lightweight fighter to watch in the coming years.

A native of the Muskoka area, Hughes grew up with combat sports in his life. His father had amateur boxing bouts and was involved in the mixed martial arts scene.

His brothers were, much like him, always up for a good scrap in his younger years.

“When we were young kids we had sparring gear and helmets, that kind of stuff,” Hughes said. “We were always sparring growing up. We had kind of a rule in my house that if you came over, you had to spar.”

In 2008, Hughes found a boxing gym in his hometown. It had a 6ft. x 8 ft. ring and one heavy bag. There were four members. It was open three hours a week.

Still, Hughes began to pick up the fundamentals. When his trainer became sick, he moved his training to Barrie – over an hour from his home in Bracebridge- to stay involved in the sport. It certainly wasn’t the ideal situation and Hughes was only casually taking part in the sport.

“I was there on and off for years, I wasn't training as much as I should have been,” Hughes said. I was just training enough to fight but nothing overly serious. The commitment and desire were there, I just couldn't get the pieces together properly.”

Hughes said that he needed to do some soul searching, figuring out what he wanted to do with himself. Did he want to be a fighter? He was aware that casually training wouldn’t be enough for his goal to turn pro. His 36-8 amateur record was solid, but didn’t signify any high-level championships for his future.

That’s where Andrew Heron comes in.

“I always knew Andrew ever since I started in 2008. One time he came up and just said a prayer for me ringside. I spoke with him and (soon after) relocated.”

For a year, Hughes has been full-time with the HUF Gym, learning from Heron. In the few clips available on Hughes’ social media, it’s clear to see his fast hands on display, as well as some of the boxing IQ that has become a staple of HUF fighters.

“He's (Andrew Heron) so intellectual,” Hughes said. “The whole thought process behind fighting, having a specific training schedule and knowing how much to train. Now I know exactly what to do with my time at the gym, make the most of it.”

Hughes spent much of his amateur career at 152lbs. before draining himself to the 140lb. division. Now in the best shape of his career, he plans to begin his professional career at 135lbs. and hasn’t ruled out a move to 130lbs., saying he walks around at about 137lbs.

He described himself as a “counter puncher with ring generalship.

“I try to outsmart and outbox my opponent, but I've got some grit,” Hughes said. “I feel like I've got some power, I've got a good mixture. I don't want to talk myself up, doing is better than saying.”

On Feb. 7, Hughes will look to kick off his professional career in style with a victory. Still technically a free agent, he’s hoping that an impressive performance will make him one of Ontario’s can’t miss prospects.

And, possibly, Lee Baxter Promotions’ newest signee.

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