Stuart Hall has made a remarkable transformation – from beach bum to world champion.
The Darlington bruiser makes the first defence of his IBF world bantamweight title against fellow North East fighter Martin Ward in Newcastle on March 31st.
Topping the bill at the Metro Radio Arena caps an astonishing rise to the top for 33-year-old Hall who readily admits that he went wild and “completely lost the plot” during five years of hell-raising in Ibiza as a teenager.
He explained: “I went on holiday there after a few knock-backs as an amateur and went wild over there – you name it, I was doing it.
“I was away from home and I went for it, clubbing and drinking – and the rest!. You name it. It was boozing, stopping out with birds and not thinking about much else in life.
“I had never been abroad in my life. I went with mates to see a friend who lived there and after one day decided I was going to stay.
“I had a few knock-backs as an amateur, packed it in and went off the rails for five years in Ibiza. I was ducking and diving, anything to makes ends meet.
“It was absolutely brilliant, but the things I got up to were not brilliant for somebody who is a sportsman.
“After a few years I was getting fat and not going anywhere and had completely lost the plot. I had to get my life back on track and, thankfully, that’s what I have done.”
Hall returned to these shores, overweight at 11 stone, but re-kindled his love for boxing and won the British title by upsetting Ian Napa three years ago.
He was then presented with the shock opportunity of a title in December after Jamie McDonnell was stripped of his belt.
Hall produced a blistering show to defeat Vusi Malinga despite fighting with a closed eye for the final three rounds to win on points.
Now he is ready for Ward and said: "I have my hands on the belt - and I don't intend to lose it against Ward."