Fight Preview: Stuart Hall defends his Bantamweight title against Martin Ward
By: Jack Dutton
IBF Bantamweight champion Stuart Hall defends his world title this Saturday night at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle against current Commonwealth Bantamweight champion Martin Ward. The contest is Hall’s first defence of his world title since he beat South African Vusi Malinga in December last year.
Saturday’s fight brings world championship boxing back to the North East and with Stuart Hall (16-2-1 7KO’s) from Darlington and Martin Ward (18-2 4KO’s) from West Rainton, the ‘Clash of the Clans’ will be the first world title fight between two fighters both hailing from the North East.
Stuart Hall became an unlikely world champion when he fought for the vacant title and due to the controversy surrounding the belt after former opponent Jamie McDonnell was stripped of the IBF title, perhaps hasn’t received such acclaim as other world title holders have received when becoming world champion.
Whatever your opinions are on the IBF’s handling of the situation and whether you believe Hall to be a deserving champion or not, he grasped his opportunity with both hands against Malinga with a convincing, unanimous points victory and you certainly cannot blame him for that. He simply done what any other fighter would have.
Once Hall had won the IBF strap, there were calls for him to rematch Jamie McDonnell due to the harsh nature of the IBF stripping the Doncaster fighter of the very same belt. The two previously fought for Hall’s British Bantamweight title and McDonnell’s European and Commonwealth title. However Hall chose a different route and his team looked to a big fight for the North East by deciding to fight Martin Ward, who will be looking to become the first world champion from the traveller community on Saturday night.
Just as Stuart Hall was made an unlikely challenger for the vacant belt in December 2013, fans would be forgiven for thinking that Martin Ward, who is ranked 13th by the IBF in the bantamweight division, would be unlikely to fight for the world title in his career. However the younger southpaw’s style will be a test for the current champion and the success that Malinga, a fellow southpaw, had in Hall’s previous fight will provide encouragement to the challenger that he will be able to get his shots off during the fight.
Hall will be looking to prove that he belongs at world level, just as Martin Ward will, and an impressive win for either the current world champion or the challenger could set them on their way to receiving the acclaim of a world champion.