You could argue Great Britain saved the best for last in terms of terrific action fights staged in 2013. Last night in Leeds, 33-year-old Darlington man Stuey Hall battled his way to the IBF bantamweight title in an incredibly exciting and at times brutal encounter with South African southpaw Vusi Malinga.
Hall, an unlikely world title challenger, fought through the pain and hindrance of a badly busted up left eye to out-point 34-year-old Malinga in a fight that could be argued as the best to have taken place in the UK this year. After decking his man in the 3rd, Hall had to dig deep to see it through to the end. The two warriors went toe-to-toe and inflicted as much hurt as they could on each other. The heart and courage shown by both was truly remarkable.
Hall now joins the current, short list, of British “world” champions: Carl Froch at super-middleweight, Scott Quigg at super-bantamweight and Ricky Burns at lightweight.
All four fighters had some year in 2013.
Froch fought and won twice: gaining revenge over Mikkel Kessler with a thrilling points win in May and then overcoming, in controversial fashion, a surprisingly dangerous George Groves by 9th-round TKO in November. Froch holds the WBA and IBF 168-pound belts.
Burns also had a fight that went down as hugely controversial this year. Scottish hero Burns saw off the previously unbeaten Jose A Gonzalez in a tough encounter in May, with Gonzalez suddenly opting to quit on his stool after Burns, who was behind, turned up the heat in the 7th, 8th and 9th-rounds. That sub-par performance rang some alarm bells, but Burns’ next fight, against Raymundo Beltran in September, saw him suffer a broken jaw and only barely hold onto his WBO belt with a draw no-one thought he deserved. It remains to be seen how Burns’ career will progress and how his jaw will heal.
Quigg fought three time sin 2013, winning two and drawing one. Back in June, Quigg had no trouble with William Prado, stopping him inside three-rounds. Then, in October, against unbeaten Cuban slickster Yoandris Salinas, Quigg was held to a draw that most people thought he’d won. That fight contested the Regular WBA title (Quigg had won the interim version in 2012). Quigg saw the year out with a 2nd-round TKO win over Diego Oscar Silva in November.
Hall boxed twice but made the most of both fights. Hall out-pointed the dangerous Sergio Perales in May – this fight on the card that saw fellow Brit Jamie McDonnell win the IBF belt that was subsequently stripped from McDonnell and was won by Hall last night – and then Stuey went through hell to claim world honours in stirring fashion yesterday.
All in all, not a bad year for British boxing, if not a great year. Certainly 2013 saw no lack of action from the best of British!