ANTHONY UPTON has been handed an early Christmas present – a shot the English light-welterweight title.
The unbeaten 23-year-old, who is trained by Ricky Hatton, will face current champion Joe Hughes at Walsall Town Hall on Saturday December 5.
Upton has been a professional for little over two years, but he feels the time is now right for his first championship opportunity.
“It’s something I can’t wait for,” he said. “All the training we do in the gym is geared to boxing over 12 rounds so I know I can do ten comfortably.
“I’m unbeaten in 11 fights so I’m at that level where I’m going to be fighting tougher opponents and I need to be prepared for boxers who are going to be giving their all to try and beat me.
“Fighting for the English title is great because a lot of people who have won English titles have gone on to win world titles and it’ll be good to see if I can follow in their footsteps.
“Winning it will be the perfect Christmas present for my whole team, because it’s not just me that’s put the work in. It’ll be a good Christmas present for Ricky, Mike [Jackson], Blain [Younis], my Dad, the Upton Clan and everyone that has supported me.
“I’m sure my little son will love it as well. It’ll be nice for me to go back to Belfast at Christmas and see him with the belt around his waist.”
Before he can start planning the festivities, Upton must defeat an extremely skilled and highly-rated champion.
Joe Hughes was the 2010 senior ABA champion at 63.5kg and has built a 13-1 (6 KOs) ledger in the paid ranks.
“I don’t know anything about him, but he’s the champion and his record speaks for itself,” Upton said. “He’s beaten some game people so I’m expecting a tough fight.
“He’ll be doing everything to hold onto his title and I’ll be doing everything to take it away from him.”
Tickets are priced at £30 (general admission) and £60 (ringside). They can be purchased from Walsall Town Hall Box Office on 0845 111 2900 or directly from any boxer on the bill.