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Stuart Hall ready for first title defence
BOXING promoter Dennis Hobson wants the Darlington public to make the Dolphin Centre a fortress for Commonwealth champion Stuart Hall when he makes the first defence of his title next month.
And if Hall, set to face Ghana's Isaac Nettey on a bill bursting with local pride, comes through his latest test then there are sights on a return to the top of the European bantamweight scene.
Hobson, who has put the show together, believes Darlington's first British champion has the pull and the power to draw in another strong crowd on March 9 to keep his career ticking along nicely.
"This African kid will be tough," said Hobson, of Nettey, who has lost just eight of his 30 pro contests. "If Stuart isn't in the right frame of mind, like against Lee Haskins when he lost that European title fight [July 2012], then he could come unstuck.
"He can't take his eye off the ball, that's for certain, but hopefully he'll get the win and we can keep coming back here and make the Dolphin Centre a real fortress for Stuart.
"I'm really looking forward to the show. The last one we had in Darlington last November [when Hall won the Commonwealth belt] was fantastic and the fans were great."
Despite being the wrong side of 30, Hall still has the look of a hungry boxer desperate to make the most of his time in the ring having turned to the pro game later than he would have liked.
And Hobson, who took Sheffield's Clinton Woods to world honours and is on the verge of delivering the same for Doncaster's Jamie McDonnell, thinks the 32-year-old still hasn't reached his potential.
Hall's only two defeats from 17 fights arrived when the European belt was at stake and he would love another shot. First, though, he cannot afford to slip up when Nettey heads for the Dolphin Centre with the intention of getting his hands on Hall's Commonwealth belt.
"Stuart's a good fighter, an old fashioned throwback," he said. "He's not a Sugar Ray Leonard, but neither was Clinton Woods and look how far we got with him.
"He had an off night against Lee Haskins and got beat narrowly by another of my fighters, Jamie McDonnell, but on his night Stuart can beat plenty of the best boxers in the world. We'd like to get [European champion] Stephane Jamoye back over here.
"Jamoye felt a bit hard done by when he lost to Jamie McDonnell [January 2011] and he says he'd like to come back to the UK, so him against Stuart would be a great fight for the North-East."
Hall will defend his Commonwealth bantamweight title against Nettey at Darlington's Dolphin Centre on March 9.
The show's undercard will feature a number of talented North-East fighters, including former Commonwealth featherweight champion Paul Truscott; Darlington's Neil Hepper; Middlesbrough's Shafiq Asif; Spennymoor's Ben Jackson, and County Durham's Tommy Ward.
* For ticket information contact 07824 466535 or the Dolphin Centre on (01325) 388406.