Just months after making history; promoter Dennis Hobson is at it again.
In May last year, Hobson secured home advantage for Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell as the Yorkshireman became the first man from ‘Donny’ to win a world title after beating Mexico’s Julio Ceja.
With McDonnell subsequently stripped of his IBF bantamweight crown; Dennis successfully manoeuvred Darlington’s Stuart Hall into a vacant title challenge, which ‘Stuey’ duly won in a ‘fight of the year’ battle against South Africa’s Vusi Malinga in December 2013.
Now, in his first title defence, ‘Stuey’ will face County Durham’s Commonwealth champion Martin Ward at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on March 29 as, for the first time ever, two North East fighters compete against each other for boxing’s top honour.
In the lead up to the huge event, we catch up with Dennis for his thoughts on the show:
How tough a fight is Martin Ward for Stuart?
I think it’s definitely a tough fight. He presents a much different proposition [to Malinga] because he has a different style. He’s a slippery southpaw. He’s a bit more slick is Martin; bit more of a mover and a counter puncher. So it’s something different for Stuart to deal with.
Martin’s gone down the route of winning a Commonwealth title and is rated by the IBF, and it’s a voluntary defence, but these two could have fought each other a long time ago. They’re both from the same area and we’re making history again. It’s the biggest ever fight in the North East because it’s two North East fighters [fighting for a world title]; it’s got a lot of meaning. And if Martin was to be victorious he’d be the first kid from a traveller background to win a world title. So there’s a few connotations there regards making history.
What are your thoughts about criticism of Martin Ward as an opponent?
People can say he lost to Lee Haskins, and how comes Lee Haskins isn’t fighting for a world title if he previously beat Jamie McDonnell? But Haskins got stopped by Stephane Jamoye, who McDonnell beat. So it’s about styles. Martin’s won a Commonwealth title against a tough African.
Some people thought Stuart Hall didn’t deserve a world title shot but look how he took his opportunity. There’s always going to be people who want to knock, but it’s a genuine fight and you’ll see that on March 29th. This will be another great occasion. Stuart, because of his style, will always be in entertaining fights, and because Martin’s a counter-puncher I think it will be a really interesting fight. It could go one way and then the other and it’s guaranteed to be good.
How do you see the fight going?
I think Martin will move a lot more and it’s a matter of whether he can handle the pressure that Stuart will put on him, and how he will handle his punch power. Certain people have said that Martin hasn’t got the best chin but I don’t believe that. I think Martin’s very capable, but Stuart’s like good wine and has got better as he’s got older.
At some stage, the fight I would like to make is Jamie McDonnell but because of the politics, and because of what Jamie’s got involved in, it’s been difficult to make that fight. So it’s a shame he allowed other people to get involved because he’d have been involved. But we’ve had to move on and this is another big fight that’s guaranteed to be exciting, because when you fight for a world title you absolutely bring your ‘A-game’.
Sometimes you answer questions by not realising what you’ve got in the locker. Like ‘Stuey’ did, he knows what he’s got in the locker [after Malinga]; perhaps similarly Martin doesn’t quite know and he won’t know until the 29th and it will bring the best out of him.
Stuart’s got something that everyone else wants now, the world title and he’s got to work hard to keep hold of it. Martin’s going to work his socks off to get the title and it could come down to whoever wants it most. This is a proper fight and it will be something the North East will be proud of.
How pleased are you with the rest of the card?
Really pleased. It is a fantastic undercard. Jon-Lewis Dickisnon against Neil Dawson is a great fight. Neil can dig; Jon’s very capable and is a good boxer, but Neil’s always got that leveller and he’s tough as old boots. So that’s a great match up. We’ve also got Frankie Gavin, who’s a class fighter. Bradley Saunders is on, and when you unravel it it’s a very strong bill. There’ll be some cracking entertainment; it will be a night to saviour, and history for the North East.
Dennis Hobson Promotions presents Stuart Hall defending his IBF bantamweight world title against Martin Ward at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on March 29. The exciting undercard for the show includes Birtley’s Jon-Lewis Dickinson defending his British cruiserweight title against big-punching Neil Dawson. Also in action will be British and Commonwealth welterweight king Frankie Gavin; Sunderland’s English lightweight champ Kirk Goodings against Fishburn’s Gary Fox; Sedgefield’s rising star Bradley Saunders; Dronfield’s Lewis Taylor; Guisborough’s Josh Leather; Doncaster’s Dave Allen; American star heavyweight Eddie Chambers; Yorkshire’s Ross Burkinshaw; County Durham’s Thomas Patrick Ward; Slough’s George Michael Carman; Birtley’s Robert Dixon; Scottish heavyweight Gary Cornish, and Swansea’s Jay Harris.