JOE Hughes can put a positive spin on what has been a frustrating year when facing highly rated Spaniard Sandor Martin in Barcelona on Thursday night in a bout for the European title.

Malmesbury fighter Hughes, 29, controversially missed out on winning the British and European super-lightweight titles in March when losing to Robbie Davies Jnr by unanimous decision at Liverpool’s Echo Arena.

Terry O’Connor’s 118-110 card in favour of Liverpudlian Davies Jnr on that night nine months ago still puzzles the Wiltshire talent and many a neutral fan.

Davies Jnr went on to lose a world title eliminator against Lewis Ritson in October, a contest Hughes has his eyes set on for the not too distant future.

Ironically, Ritson was supposed to face Hughes in August – but the latter had to pull out of the contest due to a back injury.

With a fresh challenge in front of him, Hughes is now relishing the prospect of tackling Martin – who boasts a 35-2 record and is ranked ninth in the world by the WBA – in his home city.

He told the Gazette & Herald: “Sandor (Martin) is no slouch, his record speaks for itself.

“He can box, he can fight, he can come forward and attack and counter punch. He’s a good opponent for me, it should be a good fight.”

Martin will be Hughes’ fourth southpaw opponent in as many years – with previous contests against awkward characters occurring against Anthony Yigit, Jack Catterall and Anthony Hardy.

Despite losing half of his professional bouts to southpaws, Hughes insists the additional challenge when stepping into the ring with EBU European champion Martin won’t derail his title plans.

He added: “I’ve fought more southpaws – percentage wise – than anyone out there.

“I’ve fought some good southpaws, so him being one is nothing new to me and not something that will throw me off.

“It is awkward – his arm will be in the wrong place and the range is different too. Moving your feet can be tricky too.

“But I’m dead used to it, so it’s nothing that will phase me.”

Additionally, fighting on the continent will prove no stumbling block for Hughes.

The super-lightweight last year sensationally beat Andrea Scarpa in Florence, Italy, to land the then vacant EBU European super-lightweight title – the very belt he will contest this evening.

“As much as I don’t like to be away, you can’t moan about being paid to go and do something you love – especially in a place like Barcelona,” said Hughes.

“This is a great opportunity for me in the backyard of my opponent. It all adds to the experience.

“In Italy last year, being in Florence added to the whole occasion for me. It made it more than just a fight. It was great life experience.

“My defeat to Robbie (Davies Jnr) took opportunities away from me.

“It’s been a frustrating year. But I want to cap it off nicely with a strong result.”