Hall insists his partying days are behind him as plans for first defence begin to fall into place (From The Northern Echo)
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Hall insists his partying days are behind him as plans for first defence begin to fall into place
THE first defence of Stuart Hall’s IBF World Bantamweight title is being lined up for Newcastle at the end of March, and the Darlington fighter has pledged to consign his partying days to history as he looks to remain on top of the world.
Hall became only the second North-Easterner to win a world boxing title when he out-pointed South African Vusi Malinga in a sensational showdown in Leeds on Saturday.
Plans for the 33-year-old’s first defence of his crown remain at a formative stage, but The Northern Echo understands that discussions are under way that could see Hall fighting at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on the final weekend of March.
With a number of North-East fighters likely to be on the undercard, there is every chance the fight would be a sell out, and having enjoyed the greatest night of his career as he out-fought Malinga last weekend, Hall is determined to give himself every chance of another golden moment in a few months’ time.
He does not attempt to hide his party-loving past in Ibiza, and would often indulge in lengthy drinking sessions in the wake of his previous fights.
This time around, however, things are different, and as he looks forward to a family Christmas in Darlington, he is adamant that his partying days are behind him.
“I went home after the fight and had four pints of orange juice,” said Hall. “I will have some food and a few drinks on Christmas Day, but my body needs looking after now because I want to prolong my career.
“After my earlier fights I would go away on long holidays, but I can’t do that now. I’ve got to the top, and this is where the hard work starts.
“I’m going to have a bit of a break and a nice relaxing time with the family over Christmas and New Year, but then I’ll get back into some gentle running at the start of 2014.
“It’s been amazing since Saturday night, and I’m still in cuckoo land really. It’s starting to sink in, although I keep on getting quite emotional when I think of everything I’ve done. I still get shivers down my spine when people introduce me as the champion of the world.”
Hall needed some major remedial work to repair the damage to his left eye in the wake of Saturday night, and joked that while he has “the grin of a Cheshire cat”, he has “the face of the Elephant man”.
There should be no long-term damage to his sight, although he will have to be careful when he first gets back into the ring to begin sparring ahead of his maiden title defence.
He is still to watch a replay of Saturday’s victory over Malinga, although there are sections of the fight that continue to run through his head.
“I’m going to watch it soon,” he said. “It’ll be interesting to see what it looks like and how it matches up with my recollections of what happened.
“The main thing I remember is just how hard Malinga was able to hit. I thought Rendall Munroe hit hard when I was sparring with him, but Malinga was at a different level entirely. Mind you, Malinga has fought (Leo) Santa Cruz, and he said I hit harder than he did too.”
Glenn McCrory was at Hall’s side as he walked to the ring on Saturday evening, and the North-East’s latest world champion has paid tribute to the region’s first world title winner.
“Having Glenn there was a massive help,” he said. “He was in the dressing room with me and my team before the fight, and he definitely helped to calm me down.
“They come in and tell you when you’re two minutes away from your ring walk, and I remember getting a little bit anxious when it seemed to be taking five minutes, and then ten. But Glenn was a big help just talking to me and keeping me composed. He made sure I didn’t boil over.”
Hall was in perfect shape for Saturday’s fight, and his trainer, Mick Marsden, deserves huge credit for tailoring his fighter’s training routine to enable him to peak at the ideal time.
However, Hall has revealed that his pre-fight preparations suffered a major scare a week before the contest when he was diagnosed with a chest infection that required treatment with antibiotics.
“I didn’t tell anyone at all, but for a little while it was quite bad,” he said. “I had a chest infection and was on antibiotics for a bit.
“Was it a worry? It was and it wasn’t. I just thought, ‘I’ve got to get through this, it’s as simple as that. There’s no way I’m pulling out’.
“I really had a bad chest for a while, and was coughing stuff up and struggling to breathe. Thankfully, I got rid of it just in time because it didn’t affect the last few days of my preparation.”
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