Reigning IBF bantamweight king Stuey Hall believes the time has come for those within the industry to pay him his props.
The 34 year old from Darlington is presently in the richest vein of form of his six year, 20 fight pro career and enters Saturday’s civil war with Ellesmere Port’s Paul Butler as the naturally bigger, more seasoned fighter. Yet despite profiting from home court at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena, Stuey knows he’ll enter the ring as a sizeable underdog with the bookies and a rank outsider with most of the media.
No drama, he says. He’s shafted both before and is frighteningly confident of repeating the trick again this weekend over a man he perceives as nothing more than an unproven upstart.
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After six weeks on the muzzle, the hardy champion was bursting to be unleashed when boxing writer Glynn Evans caught up with him last weekend.
Your first defence against Martin Ward fizzled out into a damp squib because of the head clash but there was a fabulous atmosphere at the Metro Radio Arena. What positives did you take from the experience?
It was a brilliant occasion. I actually went there years ago to watch a Ricky Hatton title fight (WKO4, Joe Hutchinson, 2002) so defending a world title there was a dream come true for me. I received a great reception and I’m so happy that we’re back in the same situation on Saturday. I hope to make the Metro my fortress.
Funnily enough, I badly needed a pee whilst I was making my ring walk. I already had my protector and gloves on so that was a ‘no-no’. It was a nightmare. Still, once we began trading shots I forgot all about it.
I felt absolutely awesome throughout training and in the short time the fight lasted so I was as upset about the (inconclusive) finish as anyone. We did clash heads but I also landed a short hook immediately after so who knows what caused the cut. I felt I was robbed of the glory of delivering a brilliant performance.
What a nice lad Martin is but I felt in total control and I’m very confident I’d have got to him after about four rounds anyway.
Physically, the fight can’t have taken much out of you and you’re straight back into the ring just ten weeks after. What kind of break did you get in between? Are you getting sick of the sight of the gymnasium?
I went away on holiday to Egypt for two weeks with the family which was fantastic; not exactly Ibiza 2000!
I put quite a bit of weight on but I’ve had a good six to seven weeks to get ready for this and it didn’t take long at all for me to get back into the groove.
I’ve been constantly training hard since getting wind of the Malinga fight last November so it’s been pretty manic but I’m enjoying my time in the gym more than at any stage of my career. Since becoming a world champion, I’ve had to step everything up a gear.
After years of inactivity, I can’t grumble and all these fights on top of one another are allowing me to hit my peak. I feel great and intend being around for a lot longer.
If you come through again on Saturday, how long will it be before your mandatory against California’s Randy Caballero gets forced upon you?
Supposedly, within 90 days but that’s all for the future and I don’t really want to talk or think about it.
You’ve enjoyed world champion status for six months now. What have been the best things about that? What exposure and spin-offs have you enjoyed?
Well I’ve already got the best woman in the world and couldn’t be happier!
What I most enjoy is going into the schools and being able to help out and support charity events. Who’d have thought that anyone would have invited Stuey Hall to that sort of caper ten years ago? I’m really enjoying that side. I’m also involved in a local boxing academy for 16 year olds where they can study a college course in boxing. Very rewarding.
I’m still with the main sponsors I had before I won the Commonwealth title so no major changes there yet. Others get with agencies but I’m happy with what I’ve got. Regarding the media, I understand that there’s still a few doubters out there but if I can beat Paul Butler in good fashion on Saturday, hopefully I’ll start to get a bit more of the credit that I deserve.
You and Butler have sparred in the past. What psychological edges can you take from those spars?
It was about two years ago and Paul seems to be reading more into it than I do. I can’t really remember a great deal about it other than he threw a lot of shots. I always felt in total control, too strong.
But I’m not one for talking. I’ll just turn up and do my job. Forget sparring, I’m ready to have a PROFESSIONAL fight, small gloves!
What does Paul do well?
He’s got good speed, he’s sharp with his counters and he throws good body shots. I mean, he’s telling everybody he’s going to snap me in half! He’s got a good mouth. He blows so much smoke up his own arse. He’s so confident, he seems to think he’s the second coming of Floyd Mayweather. I find it quite funny.
I can’t wait for Saturday to come so I can start to exchange punches with him.
And what does he not do so well?!
He’s untested but I guarantee that I’ll test him on Saturday night. I’ve not watched an enormous amount of him but he’s coming up from super-fly and I’m a massive bantam. I think they’re seriously underestimating me whereas I’m taking his challenge, very, very seriously.
Last time, against Ward, both bill toppers were natives of the north-east. However on Saturday, Butler is very much the ‘visitor’. How unwelcome will he be made to feel?
Paul says he’ll soak it all up but you usually find those who talk a lot aren’t actually as confident as they’d like you to believe.
I’ve consciously stayed off Twitter and focussed solely on Stuey Hall. I’ve got myself in mint condition.
Now that all the physical graft has been completed, what psychological edges can be gained during the final week of the build up?
I’m not into that much. I’m just so thankful that I’m in the position I’m in, defending a world title before my own people. I just want to soak it all up.
The bookies have you installed as a 3-1 outsider, even on your home patch. Does proving them wrong heighten your motivation?
Not especially. I’m highly motivated anyway. I was an underdog against Ian Napa, Sergio Perales and Vusi Malinga but won all those fights. It just means all my friends will get even more money after they’ve backed me. It’ll be like buying money!
There’s a feeling in some quarters that Butler hasn’t earned a world title shot at bantamweight and it’s too early in his career for him to be unleashed against such a hardy campaigner as yourself. Is there a risk that this fight could ruin a promising career?
Could do. I certainly think it’s coming too early for him. His team are extremely confident, bragging that he’ll be the first to knock me out. I assure you there’s no chance of that. I’ve way too much heart. When things aren’t going as he expects, how will he react?
I’m not one who goes around saying I’ll smash opponents. Whatever will be, will be. But I’m very confident that I’ll retain my belt. If I do smash him, then you’ll hear from me.
What type of challenge are you anticipating from Paul and what are the key factors that you believe will allow you to retain your title?
I see this as a great fight for my career. Paul’s very talented, very skilful and he’s got good defence but his chin hasn’t really been tested.
Above all, I’ve got a bigger heart. What I do might not be flash but it works and, above all, I can have a fight. I’ve got a good punch. Down the stretch, he’s going to find out that I hurt. Hall is always here for the long haul!