Stuart Hall's World Title Diary: Honouring a former mentor, and getting ready for a black-and-white night

The Northern Echo: READY TO RUMBLE: Stuart Hall defends his IBF World Bantamweight title against Martin Ward in Newcastle this weekend READY TO RUMBLE: Stuart Hall defends his IBF World Bantamweight title against Martin Ward in Newcastle this weekend

IT’S fight night on Saturday, and it’s good that the waiting is finally at an end. I can’t wait to show Martin Ward who’s the boss and defend my world title, but before I do that, it was nice to get the opportunity to honour an old friend at the weekend.

I was one of the guests at the Best of Darlington Awards, and it was quite emotional to see one of my first coaches, Lol Degnan, receive the Citizen of the Year award. I have to admit I had a bit of a tear in my eye as he was walking towards the stage.

Lol’s 80 now, but I can still remember walking through the doors of his old gym when I was just a nine-year-old. The gym’s not there anymore – it was down on Larchfield Street – but Lol’s still as active as ever and he’s helped so many youngsters from the town to get involved in boxing.

He was a big part of my early days, and it was nice to hear him talk about how he’s followed my career all the way through to the world title.

It was great to have a bit of a chat with him after the event, and I’ve promised to call round to see him for a cuppa after this weekend’s fight. I’ve also promised him that I’ll still have the world-title belt to show him.

**

PEOPLE keep asking if the build up to this fight is different now that I’m a world champion. I suppose it is in a way, but only in that I feel more relaxed because I’m the holder of a world title.

Please don’t think I’m any less hungry than I was before I beat Malinga. If anything, I’m even more determined not to pass up the opportunities that have come my way.

I want much bigger fights than Martin Ward in the future, but the only way I’m going to get them is if I do the business on Saturday and retain the world title.

That’s a massive motivation to be even better than I was before I fought Malinga, and I honestly think that I’m in a much better mental and physical state than I was before I got into the ring in Leeds.

The training has gone brilliantly and I honestly don’t think I could be any sharper. I’m not taking Martin Ward lightly, but there’s simply no way I get beat in this fight. That’s not going to happen.

**

THE build up will be pretty much the same as it was before the Malinga fight, although I’m planning on making one little change especially for this fight in Newcastle.

I’ve ordered a new set of kit, and I’ll be wearing black-and-white for this fight. Hopefully it’ll go down well with the Geordie fans, and people from Darlington should love it as well because obviously we play in black-and-white too.

I’m hoping to be able to get my hands on some black-and-white gloves too, although that might not be confirmed until a bit closer to the fight.

Everything else will be the same though. The walk-on music will be the same as it was for the Malinga fight – Titanium, because that’s what I am.

I used to have a different walk-on tune, but I changed it to Titanium after I lost the Haskins fight. I’ve won all my fights with that as my music, so I won’t be changing it this weekend.

**

I’VE got a last bit of promotional work to do in the next couple of days, then it’ll be the final press conference on Thursday and the weigh-in on Friday before the fight.

It’s a case of getting down to business now, and although I’m aware of the history of being involved in the first ever all-North-East world title fight, all I’m really thinking about is beating Martin Ward.

I went to some pretty dark places to beat Malinga, and I didn’t do that just to throw it all away in my next fight.

I’ve loved being world champion, and that’s exactly how I want it to remain. If you’re coming to Newcastle to watch, I hope you enjoy your night. And don’t forget to buy Monday’s Northern Echo so you can see me still as world champion!

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