Stuart Hall has started 2014 as he finished last year, by winning a major title.
In a fight of the year contender ‘Stuey’ performed heroics in December to claim the IBF bantamweight title against South Africa’s Vusi Malinga, and now the Darlington man has just claimed another coveted award.
On February 5, at the Billingham Forum, Hall picked up the North East Sports Personality of the Year trophy. The region’s first ever boxing world ruler, Glenn McCrory, presented the award to the area’s latest champion, and Hall was delighted with his latest piece of silverware.
“It was mad because I didn’t even know I was up for an award,” revealed Hall, who fought through a horrific eye injury to claim his points victory over Malinga.
“I really didn’t expect it. When they started to announce the big one by getting Glenn McCrory up to present the award, that’s when I started to get tingles on my neck. I was absolutely happy as ‘owt, my wife said to me ‘man up because you can’t go down there crying’! I was just ecstatic.”
Next up for Stuart, in one of the biggest fights ever staged in the North East, comes the first defence of his crown against Commonwealth champion Martin Ward at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on March 29.
On paper, Ward enters the contest as the underdog. With two defeats in 20 fights, including a fifth round domestic title defeat to Bristol’s Lee Haskins, Martin won’t be the betting favourite.
But, with both fighters hailing from County Durham and with Ward confident that his tricky southpaw style can spring a huge upset, Hall knows he can take nothing for granted. The 33-year-old believes he will have too much experience, and power, for his regional rival but refuses to look past the upcoming challenge.
“I’m taking Martin Ward seriously because this could be the biggest banana skin of my career if I slip up against him,” revealed the former British champion. “He’s a tricky southpaw, but I’ve just beaten two of the best southpaws in the world [in Sergio Perales and Vusi Malinga].
“I’ve got in my head what I’m going to do and I’m going to take care of business and keep hold of my title. But it’s a brilliant fight for the North East; that’s why it’s happening.”
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 Sheffield’s Jamie Sampson; Sedgefield’s rising star Bradley Saunders; Sunderland’s Jonson McClumpha versus Dronfield’s Lewis Taylor; County Durham’s Thomas Patrick Ward; Hartlepool’s Michael Hadfield; Middlesbrough’s Simon Vallily; Guisborough’s Josh Leather; Doncaster’s Dave Allen, and Sunderland’s Jordan King.
Tickets available online via Eventim and Live on Boxnation Sky Channel 437 Virgin 546