News May 2019

Stuart Hall speaks out ďAfter I demolish Ward I want McDonnell; Haskins and Butler can waitĒ


By Michael J Jones

In the summer of 2012, Darlingtonís Stuart Hall faced a crisis in his boxing career. He had just slumped to his second title defeat inside nine months and, at 32, there seemed little place to go. However, in boxing sometimes a fighter can very quickly turn his career around and none more so than Hall who at 34 makes the first defence of his IBF bantamweight title this Saturday in Newcastle.

In May last year, Hall would pound out a tough decision over talented southpaw Sergio Perales for the IBF InterContinental strap on the same bill Jamie McDonnell would lift the full belt. Once McDonnell was stripped it left Hall in the position to contest the vacant title against South African veteran Vusi Malinga.

On a memorable night in Leeds, Hall produced the performance of his career to overcome a cut right eye to win a clear decision and become a world champion.

This Saturday at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, the new champion makes his first defence against West Raintonís Martin Ward. Although some have questioned the challengerís world title credentials he is a solid 18-2 (4) and is coming off a win to lift the Commonwealth belt.

Speaking exclusively just a few days before his world title defence, Livefight found Hall in a bullish mood and not lacking in any confidence.

I start our interview with the obvious question; how does he assess Ward as an opponent?

ďHeís a tricky southpaw but it doesnít mean anything to me as in my last two fights Iíve fought two of the best southpaws in the world...the way Iím going Iíll end up forgetting how to fight an orthodox fighter!Ē

Many fighters raise their game with a world title on the line; does the champion think Ward will do the same in by far the biggest fight of his career?

ďOf course he will and I want to beat the best Ward the same way I wanted to beat the best Vusi Malinga so nobody could question my win afterwards and there could be no excuses.Ē

With his 26-year-old challenger having only four knockout wins in twenty contests and the Hall known as a bleeder is he prepared for Ward to target his vulnerable area around the eyes?

ďHe probably will but Iím way too experienced to worry about thatĒ says Hall with near disdain. ďI know how to move my head and Iím in the shape of my life Iím a tough warrior and Iím just looking forward to the fight now.Ē

The IBF ruler is topping the biggest boxing show put on in the North East for many years with the Hobson-promoted bill being shown live on BoxNation. For the champion itís the icing on the cake following his world title win last December...

ďTopping a huge bill at home, defending my world title is absolutely a dream come true. Years ago I watched shows featuring Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton and now itís me topping the show itís just amazing.Ē

The 16-2-1 (7) Darlington champion is currently focussing on Saturdayís fight but with healthy competition at the weight in the UK I ask about his next fight should all go to plan in Newcastle?

ďIím obviously concentrating on Saturday but the only man I want after this is Jamie McDonnellĒ Hall says firmly. The two men met for the British, Commonwealth and European titles nearly three years ago with McDonnell winning a close, competitive decision and Hall is eager for revenge.

ďThe last fight he beat me with just that little bit more experience. Iíd never gone twelve rounds before while he had a few times and that was the only thing that really separated us. Since then Iíve gotten stronger and gained that extra experience; itís a genuine 50/50 fight and if heís up for it weíll make it happen.Ē

ďHeís not been that active of late and hasnít looked that good but to be fair coming down from his world title win to boxing eight rounders I canít really blame him for that.Ē

While the respect is evident for his former victor, Hallís opinion on two other possible domestic opponents is a little less flattering. Firstly Hall, who turned pro late at 28-years-old, feels angry at comments made by Lee Haskins who beat him on points two years ago for the European title.

ďLee Haskins has been bad-mouthing me to the extent that now the only way Iíd fight him is if he got himself into the mandatory position (in the IBF rankings). Heís disrespected me talking rubbish and I just see him as a mouthy idiot. I would have welcomed the chance to avenge my loss but now he can forget about it.Ē

And a certain Mr Butler?

ďPaul Butler is another one. A friend of mine said to me the other day ĎIíve been talking to Paul Butlerís dad and he said heís fighting (Hall) nextí. Itís like they are calling the shots but Iím the world champion and Iíll decide who I fight next. If they offer me good money then weíll talk. Heís moving up a weight while Iím absolutely massive at this weight so Iíve got no problem taking that fight.Ē

Usually lighter-weights fighters are burned out by their late 20ís, how does the champion feel physically at the relatively advanced age of 34?

ďI honestly feel like Iím peaking right nowĒ responds Stuart. ďIím not stupid, Iíve probably got two years left in my career and thatís why itís important to get as much as I can out of boxing before I retire. I still spar much younger guys and breeze through it but as soon as I feel myself dipping (in form) Iíll go.Ē

ďEven since the Malinga fight Iíve improved my training even more and I feel great.Ē

I ask the proud champion what has been his favourite moment since becoming the IBF world champion?

ďThereís been quite a few for me. I won the North East sportsman of the year, won the best sports performance...wearing the belt the night I beat Malinga was also really special. Iíve also been invited to schools to talk to the kids at the assemblies which has been nice as I like to give something back to the community.Ē

Finally, what is his final prediction for Saturday?

ďIím not one for predictions but if I do what Iím going to do I canít see it going twelve rounds; if he does heíll have to be some boy. Unless heís trained his chin itíll be a stoppage win for me. For the fans itís going to be a great night for the North East and a Stuart Hall win.Ē

Stuart Hall-Martin Ward IBF world Bantamweight title fight will be live and exclusive on BoxNation this Saturday with chief support from Jon Lewis Dickinson vs Neil Dawson, Frankie Gavin, Bradley Saunders and Kirk Goodings.

Footage begins at 7pm Sky channel 437 and 490 for HD viewers.

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