The Leek pugilist fell short the last two times he fought for this strap but he is determined to be crowned King of England this weekend.
“I think Joe will come for a good fight,” he told uko-boxing.com. “But he has been out a long time whereas I have been straight back in training after the other fight I had on Sky.
“My confidence now has hit the roof which is what I needed. Especially after that Ohara Davies fight. People thought that would affect me but I said after that fight that I would put it to one side. It was a step up and it was a learning curve for me against a lad who has now gone on and won a WBC silver.
“So for me that was something that I am pleased about that I got there on the undercard of Anthony Joshua and boxed a decent kid, then winning on the Birmingham show last time out, that put my confidence right up to the top. I am back in the mix now with the big people which is what I needed.”
Keates’ opponent, Hughes, suffers from Erb’s Palsy, a condition that has left him with partial paralysis in his right arm. The 26-year-old can only punch with his left side but despite this setback Hughes has won 14 of his 16 professional fights and has owned this belt before. Keates gave credit to his opponent and admitted heis expecting a tough challenge on fight night.
“I have a lot of respect for Joe. We have spoken before loads of times about different fights we have had and we are all good. I take my hat off to him for doing what he does from what he has. But I can’t look past that because he is a decent kid and it will be a tough night against a good fighter.
“I will change plans to how I would normally box and there will be things that I will do differently on the night because of how he boxes. But we have got people in who can give us that sort of sparring so I feel fully prepared for it and I don’t think him just throwing with his left will bother me so I am just excited for the night now so I can do the business.”
A win for the 25-year-old could set him up with a British title shot next, which is something Keates admitted he would be keen on. But first he wanted to focus on winning this fight and then consider all the opportunities a win would bring.
“I don’t want to call anyone out but yes this could lead on to a British shot; I hope. However, there are other options such as looking if Martin Gethin wanted a go for the IBF he has got. There are plenty of different options open.I feel good. I think I am at that level now. I have done 10 rounds and I know I can do 10 rounds or even 12 rounds because I have been sparring 12 rounds. I know I have done everything right and if it got called up and I was there to box for a British title then I would take it 100%. I want to thank Ironage Designs and all the other sponsors that have helped me out for this fight, it is much appreciated.”