Stuart Hall is hoping to write himself into the record books on December 21 by becoming only the second man from the North East ever to win a world title.
At Leeds’ First Direct Arena, the Darlington bantamweight will take on South Africa’s Vusi Malinga for the vacant IBF world title in what will undoubtedly be a heady night of boxing.
Malinga, who has twice fought for the world crown previously, enters the contest the far more experienced man and will be determined to upset the home fans.
Hall, the former British champion, knows he will have to put in a lifetime-best shift to succeed but is convinced he can follow in the footsteps of Glenn McCrory by bringing a major title back to his home region.
Almost 25 years ago, McCrory had North East boxing fans dancing in the streets when he beat Patrick Lumumba in his home town to claim the IBF world cruiserweight crown.
Here, we catch up with Glenn to run the rule over Hall’s chances
It’s been a long time since you won the world title [June 3rd 1989] – what would it mean for North East boxing if Stuart can repeat the feat?
We waited a long time for somebody to do it at all, and 25 years is a long time. It would mean an awful lot. I wasn’t given much chance but I did it and Stuey has had a similar ride. I don’t think many people would have given him a chance, but he’s here now and I think the North East would be very proud if he could do it.
Although different weights, are there some similarities between you?
Neither of us is from Sunderland or Newcastle. I was in an unfashionable weight division, with cruiserweight being a new division, and never really got my just desserts and I think Stuart’s the same. When he got beat off Jamie McDonnell that dulled any thoughts of him getting a world title shot but thanks to a good win last time out it’s fully deserved and hopefully he can do it.
Why is the North East a poor relation to places like Liverpool, London and Manchester when it comes to world titles?
I think the North East is a poor relation in everything. We’re kind of up in the forgotten area of the UK and England. People would probably say ‘I don’t even know where Darlington is’, and I’m from Stanley and people in Darlington don’t know where that is!
If you’re from Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool or London, which are all fight towns and have histories of fighters winning world titles then it’s easier than coming from somewhere like Darlington or Stanley, where not many people from the North East have done anything in boxing. I think we also suffer because this is a football-mad area too.
What would it do for boxing in the North East if Stuart does succeed?
There is a buzz in the North East again, with a few promoters trying to do things, and it would be a massive shot in the arm for boxing in the whole of the region. Success breeds success so if Stuey can pull off getting a world title then others will think ‘I can do it too’.
How would you feel personally if Stuart replaces you in the record books?
If I’m honest I’ve been happy to be the only world champion from this region. It’s quite something to be the only person to have ever done it and I was always a bit anxious of somebody else following in my footsteps because then my record’s gone. But I can honestly say, hand on heart, that Stuey’s a good lad and I like him a lot. So I’d be very happy to see him become a success.
Last question, can he do it?
Malinga’s operated at world level. He’s a good fighter but I think Stuey, with the fans behind him, can pull it off. Obviously when you jump to world class it’s a big step up and he’s going to have to box the fight of his life because Malinga will want to win it as well. But I think Stuey has the grit and determination, he’s got the qualities you need to become a world champ. He’s got self-belief, he’s tough, he can box, he can fight, and he’s got to put it all together and go out there and do it.
Dennis Hobson Promotions and Queensberry Promotions present Stuart Hall versus Vusi Malinga for the vacant IBF world bantamweight title at Leeds’ First Direct Arena on December 21. The undercard will include Birmingham’s Frankie Gavin defending his Commonwealth welterweight title; Bradford’s Femi Fehintola versus Dewsbury’s Gary Sykes; Northern Ireland’s Paul McCloskey; Dronfield’s Lewis Taylor; Leeds’ China Clarke and Steven Mennell; Doncaster’s Dave Allen; Wales’ Lewis Rees; Chorley’s Jack Catterall; Manchester-based American Adrian Gonzales, and Birmingham’s Joe Costello.
Stuart Hall v Vusi Malinga is live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/ Virgin Ch. 546) on Saturday 21st December. Join now at www.boxnation.com
For ticket information call 0844 248 1585 or 0844 844 0444 or visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk