IBF World Bantamweight champion Stuart Hall is writing an exclusive diary for The Northern Echo in the build up to the defence of his title against Martin Ward at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on Saturday, March 29
IT was my birthday yesterday. I was 34, although I keep on knocking ten years off to tell people that I’m only 24.
To be fair, I definitely feel better than I did when I was celebrating my 24th birthday, although back then I was well and truly going off the rails. Let’s just say I can’t remember the night and leave it at that!
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It’s strange looking back on those times now, but I certainly wouldn’t swap where I’m at now for anything in the world. I’ve turned myself around and winning the world title just shows you what’s possible if you work hard and want something badly enough.
It was a bit of a strange birthday what with it falling bang in the middle of my preparations for a world-title fight, but I was able to get away with the family for a meal.
I had to watch what I was eating a bit – salmon and a bit of veg – although as long as you’re sensible, you can still go out and do things as part of your build up to a fight. You can’t lock yourself away completely, and I’ve always been quite lucky that making the weight has never been a problem. The way things are going, it won’t be again.
THE food thing is quite interesting though because, for the first time, I’ve been to see a nutritionist in the build up to the Ward fight.
Winning the world title has opened a few doors to things like that, and I’ve just been able to adopt a bit more of a professional approach to everything I’m doing.
It was interesting. Since I stopped with the partying days, I’ve always looked after myself reasonably well, and the nutritionist said there was no need to make any major changes.
Bread was the big thing he told me to cut out, and that’s been quite hard because I’ve always loved a sandwich. Still, it’s not too much of a sacrifice for the next five weeks.
There were a couple of supplements that he recommended – things I’m probably not getting quite enough of from my diet – and it’s funny how the little things can add up to make a big difference.
I’ve made a couple of little tweaks to things, and I already feel a million times stronger than I did at the same stage of the build up to the Malinga fight. Martin Ward knows he’s going to be in for a battle next month, but I don’t think he has any idea about just how good a state I’m going to be in when I walk into that ring.
I DID my first bit of sparring on Monday, and I couldn’t have been any happier with how it went. It was a nice six-rounder down in Leeds, and it just proved I’m in good shape.
It was the first time I’d been back in a ring since the Malinga fight, and I was up against a decent young fighter who’s probably not that dissimilar in style to Ward. He was an awkward southpaw, so it was decent practice.
We’re not doing anything too strenuous yet, but it was good to blow away a few cobwebs and get back into the routine of throwing a few punches and making sure that the movement and breathing is right.
At this stage, that’s all it’s about really. There’s plenty of time to build it up from here, but I feel like all my early preparations have been perfect.