Leeds bareknuckle boxer Scott McHugh targets world title after becoming city's first British champion

BAREKNUCKLE boxing champion Scott McHugh is targeting a world title after claiming the British bantamweight belt last month.

Saturday, 17th April 2021, 7:48 am
Updated Saturday, 17th April 2021, 8:46 am
THRILLER: McHugh throws a punch during the bareknuckle bout. Picture: Brooklyn Freeman.

The 28-year-old from Leeds made his BKB debut in 2018 and was crowned British champion late last month following a brutal contest with the previously-unbeaten Nathan Leeson.

The five-round fight went to a judges’ decision, with McHugh’s hand raised to confirm his first title since becoming a bareknuckle fighter.

“It is the world title next, in July hopefully,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.

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CHAMPION: Scott McHugh. Picture: Brooklyn Freeman

“I want to defend this belt but whoever is getting put in front of me is getting knocked out.

“I want to defend my British title and then get the world title after that. I did it for Leeds, I am over the moon.”

McHugh, who is trained by Michael Tobin, is still recovering from the punishing contest which saw him sustain a broken nose and several cuts.

That is to be expected in such a brutal sport, which has its origins in England as far back as the 1600s.

BRUTAL: Scott McHugh revealed he had a broken nose following the contest. Picture: Brooklyn Freeman

“I can’t breathe out my nose though, it is snapped in half. It was a five-round war, it was just non-stop action,” added McHugh.

“It went to a decision, I lost the first round, drew the second and then won the last three rounds.

“He was undefeated in bareknuckle boxing and he had a good record in boxing and I beat him.

“Bareknuckle is only two-minute rounds because you usually get cut open. I got cut, I was bleeding everywhere.

“My nose needs surgery but maybe on the next one someone will snap it back into place for me!”

Due to Leeson’s unbeaten record, McHugh was in no mood to take the contest lightly.

“I trained eight weeks solid for it. I was ready for anything,” he said.

“My work-rate when I am fighting means I am constantly on people, I knew my fitness would be better.”

The Leeds-born competitor may only have five fights under his belt in bareknuckle boxing but he is no stranger to combat sports. He has competed in boxing, thai boxing, kickboxing and mixed martial arts, contesting over 30 fights across all disciplines.

McHugh was originally set to fight James Lilley for the British title in September but that bout never went ahead due to the impact of Covid-19.

As a 17-year-old, McHugh spent three years in the armed forces and was based at Warminster in Wiltshire before leaving to take up boxing.

He said: “With BKB, there are lots of people who are ex-UFC and there are no journeymen. You don’t get hurt enough in boxing and I like a bit of a challenge.”

He concluded: “From a lad from a council estate in Leeds and now I am the champion of Britain.

“If it wasn’t for the continued support of my wife Jade, who motivates me to get into the gym everyday, then I would not be where I am today.”

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