PETER Cope is to face the biggest test of his promising career when he fights former British, Commonwealth and World title challenger Sean “Short Fuse” Hughes next month.
The undefeated Hartlepool star, who boasts eight wins from eight, will face the vastly-experienced Yorkshireman in Newcastle on December 7.
Cope v Hughes was announced yesterday at a press conference for the Ringstar-promoted event which is headlined by Martin Ward’s Commonwealth title challenge against Ghana’s Gabriel Laryea.
It is a huge challenge for Cope given his 31-year-old opponent’s wealth of experience.
Hughes has boxed 29 times, including five title bouts, one of which was a sixth-round stoppage at the hands of Michael Hunter in the Hartlepool hero’s second defence of his British super-bantamweight crown in March 2005.
The Pontefract boxer has failed in all his championship assignments though, it has to be said, all his attempts were against the cream of the super-bantamweight division - Hunter, Esham Pickering, Bernard Dunne and Jason “Too Smooth” Booth.
All but the Dunne confrontation in Dublin, for a minor version of a world title, ended in mid to late stoppage defeats, while he did go to points when he lost to Marc Callaghan for the English belt at the Borough Hall in 2006.
Hughes has made only sporadic appearances in recent times, but he has boxed twice this year, including a scheduled 12 rounder in France.
New promoter Mark Clauzel, who is staging his first show, had hoped to make Cope v Hughes for a belt and could still do so.
Thus far, Hughes has declined that carrot so the contest is almost certain to go ahead over six rounds.
Cope’s trainer, and dad, Peter Snr, said while they were disappointed not to be having a crack at a title it was still a “huge fight.”
The Gus Robinson Developments head coach said: “The promoters wanted this as the second title match on the bill.
“Sean has said he did not want to fight a 10-rounder but would do six. He did not want to put in the extra training he’d have needed to do to go 10.
“That’s fair enough.
“But six rounds against a man of his calibre is still a huge fight for Peter.
“The experience of Hughes alone is massive and he could really bring that experience to bear.
“The bout is just what we wanted, something meaningful, something to motivate him, something to test him.
“After his last bout we said he needs meaningful contests and this definitely fits into that category.
“When this is over, Peter needs a zero to still be in the losses column on his record.
“He needs to win.”
Cope is looking to finish a frustrating year on a high note.
The 22-year-old has fought only twice in 2013, a derby with South Shields’ David Lake in February and a scrappy points success over Kas Hussain in Sunderland in July.
A Northern Area title clash with Newcastle’s Douggie Curran fell through after the Geordie pulled out with a back problem.
“I’ve had to pull out of a fight myself this year so I’m not going to moan about Douggie,” said Cope Jnr.
“At the beginning of 2013 we’d been hoping for a good year with maybe an English title fight at the end of it.
“An English challenge will hopefully be next year and now I need and want a step up.
“A fight with Sean Hughes is a step up and I’m excited.”