By Shaun Brown
At 34, Stuart Hall 16-2-2 (7) feels he’s coming into the form of his life. Two years ago after a points defeat to Lee Haskins, the Darlington fighter was miles away from the cloud nine he’s on now. The IBF Bantamweight champion has said in the past that “If it wasn’t for boxing I’d probably be dead”.
The Stuart Hall that lived life to the full in Ibiza as a young man doesn’t exist now. The partyboy lifestyles is well and truly over. Instead we have a professional, dedicated and hard-working individual who is prepared to go to boxing’s pits of hell to keep his title when he defends it against 25 year old Paul Butler 15-0 (8) this Sat night in Newcastle live on Boxnation.
BoxingScene caught up with the defending champion to talk about his preparation for his second defence, his thoughts on the confident challenger and a look back at what was a fairytale 2013 when he won the vacant IBF strap against Vusi Malinga with a unanimous decision victory.
BoxingScene: Has this been a similar camp to your previous ones or have you added anything extra for the challenge of Butler?
Hall: We’ve just been the same. Just had to get myself in good shape and the team concentrating on me and concentrate on getting me 100% and that’s all there is to it. Obviously there’s been different sparring, I’ve been sparring southpaws for the last ten and a half weeks! My sparring’s been good. I know how to fight, I know how to box, I’m the world champion and I’m going to stay the world champion.
BoxingScene: Where do you rate Butler in comparison to the guys you’ve faced previously?
Hall: He’s not as good as Vusi Malinga or Sergio Perales or Jamie McDonnell. I’d probably say [Lee] Haskins is better than him. I’ve fought better class in my eyes, I know he’s up and coming and I know he talks the talk. He is unbeaten so he is a threat but he hasn’t fought anyone in my class yet of my calibre and strengths. I’ve took him seriously, I’ve trained hard, I know he’s a threat but I’m really, really looking forward to the fight.
BoxingScene: Is this the type of fight you’re expecting to go the distance or not?
Hall: I don’t know how long it’s going to go I just know I’m going to try and hurt him. I’ve never wanted to fight someone so much. This has got my interest because he’s been saying some daft things like he’s gonna “Blow me out”. People talk so much but they’re not as confident as they seem. It’s all talk. I’m gonna go in there and do what Stuey Hall does best and just win fights.
BoxingScene: When the fight was signed there didn’t seem to be bad blood at the time but that’s grown through the build-up. Is that because we’re getting near to the fight or is there something else to it?
Hall: There’s definitely needle there now. I don’t like talking about it really. I just want to go in there and smash his face to bits, it’s as simple as that. He’s got under my skin a little bit. Just daft little things. I think he’s a bit immature. He’s put stupid things on social media. I can’t wait for the fight, I’ve never looked forward to getting in the ring with somebody as much as Paul Butler. I’m right up for this fight and if it goes 12 rounds it’s going to be a 12 round proper war. I am not taking a foot backwards. My last breath I will not take going backwards and I hope he knows that. He hasn’t got his fans or his Dad or no-one in that ring apart from myself.
BoxingScene: Looking back at last year what’s your memories and when you became champion how long did it take to sink in?
Hall: The fight [against Malinga] itself was a blur, I had to watch it back. It was just unbelievable. It was sad news for Jamie McDonnell the way he got stripped. I got a chance, a shot at the world title and I had to jump at it and I knew I’d get one shot in my life. I’m so proud of how I’ve turned my life around to be where I am today. I’ve done it, no matter what anyone say, I’ve done it. People can doubt me, other people like idiots on keyboards can say whatever they want because they’re only jealous at the end of the day. I’ve done it. My life was complete when I won that world title but I’m as hungry as ever to keep a hold of it make no mistake.
BoxingScene: You’ve became IBF champion but what are the other goals for you now in boxing?
Hall: There’s one thing I want to conquer and I keep saying it and people keep saying that I don’t want to fight him. He knows, I’ve spoken to him. He knows I want the rematch and to keep that dream alive I’ve got to beat Butler to get another fight with Jamie McDonnell (who Hall lost to UD12 in 2011). He’s got a title, I’ve got a title so it’s a unification. What a massive fight. He wants it, I want it. I’ve wanted to fight him ever since he beat me and even after I beat Sergio Perales. And you know what? He’s a respectful person. I got interviewed with him on Sky and I’ve got respect for him as he has for me. We just want to get in the ring and do it again.
BoxingScene: You’ve won five on the spin since your loss to Lee Haskins, what’s been the secret behind the run, what’s changed?
Hall: I’ve got a strength and conditioning coach in one of my best friends, Johnny Harrison. In all honesty it’s all down to him. He’s been my best friend since we were kids, he’s a personal trainer and he’s changed so many things for me mentally and physically. He speaks to my other trainer, Mick Marsden, about other things through the week because in the past it was just me and Mick. I’m taking things a lot more serious now like my diet and I’m living the life. I want to live the life to keep the title for as long as possible.
BoxingScene: With the momentum you’ve got going do you feel like you’re getting better with every fight?
Hall: Most definitely, yeah. Johnny notes everything down and my notes for this camp are spot on. I can punch harder now, I’m stronger and I just think Paul Butler’s looking past me. He’s in for a shock. I sparred Butler but I sparred Martin Ward too and when we fought [in March] I know it got stopped on a cut but he knew straight away when I hit him with a jab there was a difference in strength. It’s a different game with 8oz gloves on and I’ve proven in the past I can take a good few punches. I’ve proved myself. He’s the favourite with the bookies but I don’t mind being the underdog, I’ve been that in a few fights. I just can’t wait, I’m raring to go.
To read an interview with Hall’s opponent, Paul Butler, please click this link http://www.boxingscene.com/paul-butler-i-know-i-hurt-hall-he-t-hurt-me--78633
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