by James Slater – Though Amir Khan, Andriy Kotelnik and Enzo Maccarinelli will doubtless get most of the headlines and attention on June 27th, the fight on the bill between Matthew Hall and Anthony Small may well turn out to be the fight of the night at The O2 Arena in London. Puncher Hall of Manchester will be defending his Commonwealth light-middleweight for the first time, and the vacant British 154-pound belt will also be on the line. Who will win? Both men are talented fighters who have differing styles that should mesh well to make a great fight.. Both men have only been beaten once, both are approaching their peak, and both men dislike one another (or at least they have had plenty of harsh words to say to each other in the build-up to the bout). Add it all up, and the action is sure to please.
Hall, 22-1(15) is the younger man, at age 24 to 27 for Small, and he certainly carries more firepower. However, Londoner Small is a slick and hard-to-read operator who boasts that he will become a world champion one day soon. The man who calls himself Anthony “Sugar Ray Clay Jones Junior” Small definitely talks a great fight, and apart from his sole loss – a 7th round TKO at the hands of Welshman Bradley Pryce that Small insists was a premature stoppage – the loose-limbed boxer/mover has done the business inside the ring.
Small’s defence is far from watertight, however, and his hands-down, defend-with-reflexes style sure let him down against Pryce – who, by the way, also fought Hall; losing by 2nd round stoppage back in March. Against as heavy-handed a puncher as the Commonwealth champ, Small must tighten up or he runs the risk of being dispatched as sensationally as Pryce was.
Small’s plan will surely be to out-box and to even out-class Hall, and the 24-year-old banger has been stopped himself, of course; even though it was a fair while ago. Hall, choosing as his nickname, “El Torito,” was stunned in the opening round against Martin Concepcion in July of 2007. A fluke or not, Hall must also pay attention to defence on June 27th, because though he’s no bomber, Small can hit crisply enough himself.
A really hard fight to pick, both guys are convincing when they say they will win. Stylishly smooth boxer Small, 21-1(15) has won four fights in a row since the loss to Pryce (all by stoppage) and he is the taller man by almost two inches. While Hall has won six in a row since his sole loss as a pro (all but one by stoppage), and he looked utterly destructive in his last fight.
Most likely, we will see both men having success as they apply their own styles of fighting, and there may well be many switches of momentum going on. Both guys could start very fast, but after the action settles down it’s likely sweet mover Small will pick up a number of rounds with his flashy skills. There is always the chance the slightly older man will get tagged, though , and as such the fight will very much be a don’t-blink affair.
Hall has said he expects to lose a number of the early rounds, but that he will catch up to his cocky opponent eventually; most likely around the 9th or 10th round. It sounds as though Hall expects a tricky enough fight.
A quick KO win by Hall cannot ever be ruled out, such is the power in his fists, but Small being blown away would be something of a shock. I expect a long fight, with Small looking world class up until the later rounds, when his lapses in defence combined with fatigue allow Hall to stop him.
Look for a great fight, with the man who just might go on to become Britain’s next star winning by stoppage in around 7 or 8 rounds.