STUART HALL defends his IBF World Bantamweight title against fellow North-Easterner Martin Ward a week on Saturday, and in his latest exclusive column for The Northern Echo, the Darlington fighter explains why he is counting down the days

LESS than a fortnight to go, and I’ve never been more excited ahead of a fight. And I even include the last world-title fight against Vusi Malinga in that.

Part of the excitement is knowing what a great night it is going to be up in Newcastle. The ticket sales have been superb and we’re heading for a massive crowd, which is great for North-East boxing.

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But the main reason I’m so excited is because I’ve never been in better shape in the whole of my life. I felt pretty good in the build up to the Malinga fight, but this is on a whole new level.

I was meant to be doing an eight-round spar down in Leeds yesterday, but I felt so good after eight rounds that I spoke with Mick, my trainer, and we carried on for ten instead. We had to pay the other lad a bit more to stay in there, but it was money well spent!

My energy levels are absolutely sky high, and I think a lot of that is down to having a proper nutritionist as part of my team now. He’s telling me what to eat and by cutting a few little things out of my diet, like bread, and taking a few supplements that I’ve never tried before, I’m a completely different animal to in all of my previous fights.

That’s not good news for Martin Ward. I’ve seen a couple of his interviews, and he’s obviously talking the talk, but I’m going to drag him into some deep waters a week on Saturday. I’ve been in those waters before, and he hasn’t. I’m not sure he’ll have any idea how to cope.


I’ve always enjoyed sparring, but the thing I never look forward to is the ice bath I have immediately after a session. I’ve been having them for years now, but anyone who says they’ve got used to them is lying. That first second you step in is always brutal.

I try to stay in for a minute for every round I’ve done, but normally by seven or eight minutes your body has got everything out of it that it’s going to. That’s my excuse anyway, and I’m sticking to it.


Because the ticket sales have been really good, I haven’t had to do as much promotional stuff ahead of this fight as I did before the Malinga one in Leeds. That’s been good really, because it’s meant I’ve been able to lock myself away and just focus on my training.

I’m going to be at the Darlington football game tomorrow though, and I’m looking forward to seeing some of the town’s sport fans and drumming up a bit more interest in the fight.

The football club are having a good season, and it’ll be nice to watch the game and speak to a few people about defending my world title.

I think I’m also going to be giving away a couple of tickets for the fight, so get yourself across to Bishop Auckland and say hello. I’ll be the one without a pie or a beer!


There’s a real buzz around British boxing at the minute, and it’s great to be a part of that. We’ve got quite a few world champions now, and the sport has been in the limelight in the last couple of weeks because of the announcement of the rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves.

I thought the first fight was stopped a bit too early, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the rematch goes, and it must be amazing to fight in front of 90,000 people or so at Wembley.

I think Groves will be a bit more cagey this time because he knows he can hurt Froch, and it will help him if he takes his time. But I think Froch will give it everything he’s got because he’s got so much riding on this fight and he clearly wants to shut Groves up once and for all. It’s going to be some night with those two.