News February 2013

Anthony Farnell talks Billy Joe Saunders - Matthew Hall


By @John_Evans79

When Matthew Hall, 25-6 (16), enters the ring to face the explosive Billy Joe Saunders on March 21st, the 28 year old will not only be fighting for the British and Commonwealth middleweight titles, but also his future at the highest level.

Luckily for ‘El Torito’ after initially being unsure about taking the fight, his trainer Anthony Farnell now shares his determination to grab the opportunity with both hands.

“I didn’t really know much about it,” Farnell told Livefight. “The fight got made and Matty said he wanted the fight. I sat down with Matt and told him how hard it’s gonna be and how good Billy Joe is and he said ‘Arnie, I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got in my body. I really want it’. I said that if he wants it, let’s go for it. We’ll train as hard as we can and we can do it.

“I’ve never seen him – even when I used to train with him at Collyhurst and Moston – this up for a fight. He knows its last chance saloon. He hit a big super middleweight with a left hook today in sparring and took him out. He’s really got the grit between his teeth.”

It doesn’t take a genius to work out that when the match up was devised, building an exciting future for Hall wasn’t the aim. After Nick Blackwell forced Saunders to go the distance last time out, his team will be hoping to reignite the buzz around him with an entertaining victory over an exciting, willing but beatable opponent. Enter Matthew Hall. The former Commonwealth light middleweight champion will come to fight, refuses to take a backward step and knows that he will be unlikely to get any more similar opportunities should he lose.

“Of course,” says Farnell. “That’s what he’s there for. He’s still got a good name and people think that Billy’s gonna look good against him. That’s why they want the fight. If the Matthew Hall turns up that’s been in the gym he’s gonna shock everyone.

“Matty gets chances because they know Matty’s the type of guy that won’t turn chances down. I said I’d rather him fight at light middleweight, his natural weight. It’s hard for him to get down to it because he’s a big stocky guy but he came to me and said ‘Arnie, I want this fight. I know I can beat him.’

So, how do you solve a problem like Billy? The 23 year old champion from Hatfield has shown pretty much every quality required of a top level fighter in amassing his 16-0 (10) record and seems destined for the top.

“The way to beat Billy Joe?” laughs Farnell. “Well, it’s gonna be hard to outbox him because he’s so fast and accurate and a good southpaw. We’ve gotta make him work for each second of every round, close him down and let big shots go. It’s been happening in the gym and he’s been looking great. We know it’s gonna be so, so hard but Matty’s a warrior and he knows that himself. He’s not a thick person. He knows this is all against him but he’s well up for it.

“Nick Blackwell gave him a very good fight and Blackwell didn’t really throw a punch for the first six rounds. Saying that, styles make fights and what could work for someone doesn’t mean it’ll work for someone else.

“We know it’s gonna be hard. He’s a class lad with class coaches and he’s been a good amateur but we know what he’s like under pressure. He doesn’t like it that much. We’ve gotta put him under pressure.

“For three rounds against everyone, Billy Joe has looked amazing and world class. When it starts getting to the fifth, sixth, seventh rounds, he doesn’t like it. If he can’t get you out of there he doesn’t like it.”

Hall may have suffered some close, controversial twelve round defeats recently (Sam Webb and Gary O’Sullivan both outscored him) but durability is one of his strengths. If he can get through those first four or five rounds, maybe Hall’s career as ‘the opponent’ will be a very brief one.

Newsletters Signup