Boxing News columnist and former EBU super-lightweight champion Joe Hughes gives us his thoughts on both last weekend’s action and this weekend’s.

I EXPECT Chris Billam-Smith to be a step ahead of Mateusz Masternak when they fight tomorrow night (December 10).

The champion can out-box Masternak for most of the fight but may struggle to hurt him. I think he’ll pile up the points and the rounds and take the fight away from Masternak.

I was really happy for Billam-Smith when he won the world title. He’s a real genuine, nice bloke. His nickname ‘The Gentleman’ certainly fits. It was a feel-good story when he won his title. A good guy finishing first. Hopefully he can win this one and keep moving forward and set up some even bigger fights for himself. And earn enough money to not have to worry about it ever again.

I would pick Devin Haney as a slight favourite against Regis Prograis tonight (December 9).

He’s just a bit better. He’s struggled to make lightweight, and it’s shown in his recent performances. I thought he did lose against [Vasiliy] Lomachenko and that was probably one of the main reasons why he has moved up.

Prograis can look good sometimes but other times he doesn’t look up to scratch. His last fight was pretty poor. Don’t get me wrong he’s a very good fighter but I think Haney is going to be that bit fresher, quicker, and I think he’s the better boxer. I don’t think there will be many fireworks, however. Haney won’t take many risks and he could shut down Prograis. It’ll be a good fight to watch but not one that’s action-packed. I think Haney will just nick it.

I wasn’t overly impressed by Ryan Garcia’s performance last weekend against Oscar Duarte. He looked okay but didn’t look elite to me. It was quite a bizarre performance. I know he was trying to do the shoulder roll, but he was almost turning his back at times.

I wasn’t sure who was refereeing the fight – whether Garcia was, or the official was. A lot of times Garcia would moan about a foul to the referee who would then jump in and call a foul. The star of the show can sometimes run the show at that level, and it isn’t fair in my opinion; not that it would have made a lot of difference to the overall result. Ryan was clearly a step ahead.

Jordan Gill was the highlight of the night in Belfast. He was taken over there to be the sacrificial lamb for Michael Conlan to try and get his career back on track. A very good amateur, Conlan, but it hasn’t quite worked out for him to the same degree as a pro. Gill, a good fighter, isn’t someone you would have put at that level, but he did the job and did it well. Conlan has had a few bad losses now and you wonder how much damage it is going to do to him, especially if it happens again. Your life isn’t over when you stop boxing.

McKenna and Crocker was an action-packed fight. Retiring is probably the best decision for McKenna as well. He put in a good performance after a long time out. Crocker was too strong, too fresh, had more in the tank, and is more of a natural welterweight whereas McKenna has campaigned at super-lightweight. He didn’t budge, though, from some of the shots he took, and he kept firing back until the end of the fight. He was trying the whole time.

[Sam] Maxwell looked out of sorts against Sean McComb and I think he has done for quite a few of his fights. I’m going to sound biased, but it’s been the case since he boxed me. He got stopped bad against Dalton Smith and maybe that’s affected him. I don’t think he looked great against Smith either. I don’t know if it’s time for him to call it a day but it seems like something’s off with him.

Fair play to Gavin Gwynne winning the European lightweight title.

Gavin did what he had to do. Even though he was down on points and getting out-boxed a lot of the time he stuck in there and got through the rounds. It’s a 12-round fight for a reason.

I presumed it was the shoulder injury which Marsili pulled out with. To me that’s a really poor excuse in a European title fight to say you’ve got a shoulder injury. Personally, I’ll probably be harsher than most people on that. Just fight with one hand, what’s wrong with that? That’s all you need to win a European title!