By Shaun Brown
At 34, Stuart Hall 16-2-2 (7) feels heís 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 heís on now. The IBF Bantamweight champion has said in the past that ďIf it wasnít for boxing Iíd probably be deadĒ.
The Stuart Hall that lived life to the full in Ibiza as a young man doesnít 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 boxingís 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: Weíve 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 thatís all there is to it. Obviously thereís been different sparring, Iíve been sparring southpaws for the last ten and a half weeks! My sparringís been good. I know how to fight, I know how to box, Iím the world champion and Iím going to stay the world champion.
BoxingScene: Where do you rate Butler in comparison to the guys youíve faced previously?
Hall: Heís not as good as Vusi Malinga or Sergio Perales or Jamie McDonnell. Iíd probably say [Lee] Haskins is better than him. Iíve fought better class in my eyes, I know heís up and coming and I know he talks the talk. He is unbeaten so he is a threat but he hasnít fought anyone in my class yet of my calibre and strengths. Iíve took him seriously, Iíve trained hard, I know heís a threat but Iím really, really looking forward to the fight.
BoxingScene: Is this the type of fight youíre expecting to go the distance or not?
Hall: I donít know how long itís going to go I just know Iím going to try and hurt him. Iíve never wanted to fight someone so much. This has got my interest because heís been saying some daft things like heís gonna ďBlow me outĒ. People talk so much but theyíre not as confident as they seem. Itís all talk. Iím gonna go in there and do what Stuey Hall does best and just win fights.
BoxingScene: When the fight was signed there didnít seem to be bad blood at the time but thatís grown through the build-up. Is that because weíre getting near to the fight or is there something else to it?
Hall: Thereís definitely needle there now. I donít like talking about it really. I just want to go in there and smash his face to bits, itís as simple as that. Heís got under my skin a little bit. Just daft little things. I think heís a bit immature. Heís put stupid things on social media. I canít wait for the fight, Iíve never looked forward to getting in the ring with somebody as much as Paul Butler. Iím right up for this fight and if it goes 12 rounds itís 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 hasnít got his fans or his Dad or no-one in that ring apart from myself.
BoxingScene: Looking back at last year whatís 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 Iíd get one shot in my life. Iím so proud of how Iíve turned my life around to be where I am today. Iíve done it, no matter what anyone say, Iíve done it. People can doubt me, other people like idiots on keyboards can say whatever they want because theyíre only jealous at the end of the day. Iíve done it. My life was complete when I won that world title but Iím as hungry as ever to keep a hold of it make no mistake.
BoxingScene: Youíve became IBF champion but what are the other goals for you now in boxing?
Hall: Thereís one thing I want to conquer and I keep saying it and people keep saying that I donít want to fight him. He knows, Iíve spoken to him. He knows I want the rematch and to keep that dream alive Iíve got to beat Butler to get another fight with Jamie McDonnell (who Hall lost to UD12 in 2011). Heís got a title, Iíve got a title so itís a unification. What a massive fight. He wants it, I want it. Iíve wanted to fight him ever since he beat me and even after I beat Sergio Perales. And you know what? Heís a respectful person. I got interviewed with him on Sky and Iíve got respect for him as he has for me. We just want to get in the ring and do it again.
BoxingScene: Youíve won five on the spin since your loss to Lee Haskins, whatís been the secret behind the run, whatís changed?
Hall: Iíve got a strength and conditioning coach in one of my best friends, Johnny Harrison. In all honesty itís all down to him. Heís been my best friend since we were kids, heís a personal trainer and heís 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. Iím taking things a lot more serious now like my diet and Iím living the life. I want to live the life to keep the title for as long as possible.
BoxingScene: With the momentum youíve got going do you feel like youíre 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, Iím stronger and I just think Paul Butlerís looking past me. Heís 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. Itís a different game with 8oz gloves on and Iíve proven in the past I can take a good few punches. Iíve proved myself. Heís the favourite with the bookies but I donít mind being the underdog, Iíve been that in a few fights. I just canít wait, Iím raring to go.
To read an interview with Hallís opponent, Paul Butler, please click this link http://www.boxingscene.com/paul-butler-i-know-i-hurt-hall-he-t-hurt-me--78633
Please send news and views to firstname.lastname@example.org or @shaun_brown on Twitter. Tags: Stuart Hall , Paul Butler