FRIENDSHIP goes out of the window for Gwent boxing stars Jeff Evans and Justyn Hugh when they square up in the ring next week.
The pair have known each other for years as amateurs and professionals but that will count for nothing when Hugh challenges Evans for his Welsh light-heavyweight title at the Newport Centre on Saturday, July 21.
Pontypool star Evans defends the title he won by beating Shon Davies at the same venue in May 2011.
He is excited at the prospect of facing his old friend as he continues to rebuild his career after the devastating knockout defeat to Ovill McKenzie within 15 seconds of their Commonwealth title fight last year.
“I can’t wait for this fight. Obviously I know my opponent this time – me and Justyn came through the amateurs together,” explained the 29-year-old, who is trained by Gary Lockett.
“I have a lot of respect for him and I don’t blame him challenging me for my title.
“He’s a friend but you’ve got to put that aside come fight night.
“That’s the sport we’re in and it’s just a case of may the best man win.
“It’s my first defence and it’s his first opportunity to challenge for a title so he’ll be hungry,” he added.
“He’s unbeaten and he’s a good fighter. It’s going to be a tough fight but I’ve trained for that and I’ll be ready for him.”
Newport’s Hugh, who is part of Tony Borg’s successful St Joseph’s stable, is confident of sealing his first belt at the age of 28.
“I’ve known Jeff for a while but I’ll just concentrate on the boxing on the night,” he said.
“We boxed in the amateurs and I beat him but I suppose it’s a different game being a pro and it’s over 10 rounds.
“That’s why I’ve trained 110 per cent for this fight and I’m going to give it everything I’ve got.
“This is going to be the hardest fight I’ve had but I should have plenty of support and I can’t wait to get in there.
“I know I can do the business on the night.”
Hugh believes that Evans’ defeat to McKenzie could be a factor when they step through the ropes.
“He’ll have the McKenzie defeat at the back of his mind but I’ve got to ignore that,” he said.
“It could make him hungrier but I’ll just do what I do and come out with a win and with a title.”
The fight is on the undercard of Gary Buckland’s homecoming show at the Newport Centre on Saturday.
The ‘Return of the Welsh Warriors’ show is presented by Steve Sims Promotions in association with Tony Borg.
Also on the bill is the British Masters super-middleweight title fight between Newport’s Frankie Borg and Bristol’s Danny Butler.
Buckland takes on Poland’s Maurycy Gojko and his younger brother Mitchell faces Alway’s Craig Woodruff.
Tickets are available from the Newport Centre box office on 01633 656757. They are also available from the fighters. Contact Evans on 07891 481358 or Hugh on 07572 954145.
The show starts at 7.30pm and there will be collections in aid of HCPT Group 99, a charity that helps local children with disadvantages and disabilites.