With Stuart Hall and Martin Ward both having lost to Lee Haskins previously; Darlington’s Hall insists he is taking little from the manner of their defeats as he prepares to make the first defence of his IBF world bantamweight crown against Ward at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on March 29.
In July 2012, in a fight he readily admits he ‘didn’t turn up’; Hall lost over 12 rounds to Bristol’s Haskins in a shot at the European title. In April the following year, Ward faced the West Country man for the vacant British belt and was stopped in five rounds.
Since those reverses, the fortunes of both men have seen an upturn. Martin became Commonwealth king after a unanimous points victory over Ghana’s Gabriel Odoi Laryea in December last year. While, in the same month, ‘Stuey’ performed heroics in a ‘fight of the year’ contender to win his world title against South Africa’s Vusi Malinga.
Now, with Hall and Ward about to make history as the first pair of North East fighters ever to contest world honours against each other, Stuart says he won’t underestimate his County Durham foe.
“You can’t really read anything into it,” stated Hall. “But Haskins could have hit me for 15 rounds and he wouldn’t have stopped me. Haskins hasn’t got that much of a dig, and he’s got nowhere near the dig of Sergio Perales, or Malinga. Those guys hit proper hard!
“So for Haskins to stop Martin Ward, it gives me a little bit of incentive, but he’s going to be right up for this. It’s his chance to take this world title, and I’ll be more than ready for him. He’s going to be tricky. He’s got more of an amateur style. But it’s a long time, 12 rounds, isn’t it? I’ll get to him sometime.”
If holding onto his IBF belt wasn’t already enough motivation, then Stuart is also spurred on by the derby aspect to the upcoming encounter. With both men hailing from the region, and with the fight taking place on a huge night in Newcastle, former British champion Hall says he refuses to lose.
“It’s definitely more special that we’re both from the same area; it gives me more drive to come out on top as the North East’s world champion. And it’s going to stay that way. It gives me a bigger incentive to be fighting someone from the North East than to be fighting someone from Mexico that I’d never heard of. And it’s good for the North East to have a derby fight. It’s a tricky fight, but a fight I can win.”
Dennis Hobson Promotions presents Stuart Hall defending his IBF bantamweight world title against Martin Ward at Newcastle's Metro Radio Arena on March 29. The exciting undercard for the show includes Birtley's Jon-Lewis Dickinson defending his British cruiserweight title against big-punching Neil Dawson. Also in action will be British and Commonwealth welterweight king Frankie Gavin; Sunderland's English lightweight champ Kirk Goodings against Fishburn’s Gary Fox; Sedgefield's rising star Bradley Saunders; Dronfield's Lewis Taylor; Guisborough's Josh Leather; Doncaster's Dave Allen; American star heavyweight Eddie Chambers; Yorkshire's Ross Burkinshaw; County Durham's Thomas Patrick Ward; Slough's George Michael Carman; Birtley's Robert Dixon; Scottish heavyweight Gary Cornish, and Swansea's Jay Harris.
Ticket Hotline = 0844 493 6666; Arena Website = www.metroradioarena.co.uk ; Arena Twitter = @arenanewcastle; Dennis Hobson Promotions Website = www.dennishobson.com ; Dennis Hobson Promotions Twitter = @Dennis_Hobson