CHAMPION Stuart Hall and Martin Ward will go toe-to-toe at the Metro Radio Arena in Gateshead tomorrow night for the IBF bantamweight title. The two fighters fronted the press conference yesterday, where many of the boxers on the under card were also there to preview the event.
It promises to be, arguably, the biggest night for North-East boxing ever staged, with 15 contests building up to the showpiece world title bout between two of the region’s best fighters.
After a little introduction from Amir Khan’s former business manager, Asif Vali, The Northern Echo’s Paul Fraser was on hand to hear what the main men involved had to say about the occasion as the big night approaches.
Stuart Hall’s manager
“I have been involved with huge fights all around and in places Las Vegas, but let me tell you this is a special, special occasion. The feedback we have had from being up here, the North-East is a hot bed for talent and we have some of that just on this top table.
“We thought it was going to be exciting but it has already surpassed that. On Saturday night this show will do itself justice. We have 15 fights on the card, a little top heavy, but there has been a clamour from fighters to be on the bill because it is history we are making.
“History was made when Stuart Hall won the world title, it was a fairytale. He deserved his chance to get the opportunity. He took it with both hands. It was an unbelievably memorable event and this is his homecoming, “And Martin comes from just down the road too, so that is why we have managed to pull this together. For us to create history it is a great buzz. Those are two great fighters.
“Any time Stuart Hall fights it will be an exciting fight and on the other hand Martin will be the stylish counter puncher who will come and have a scrap as well. It’s all set up for a dramatic title fight.
“I do urge the rest of the North-East to snap up the remaining tickets. Those who don’t go out and snap up tickets in this awful weather will regret it, but it is a special occasion.”
“We are already guaranteed a fantastic crowd on Saturday and those not lucky enough to be there can watch all the action on BoxNation. Stuart Hall was super human at Leeds when he beat Vusi Malinga. Martin has his work cut out to get that title off him and he believes he can do it. It will be a fantastic world title fight.
“On the undercard we have Frankie Gavin defending his Commonwealth title against Sacky Shikukutu. Frankie has world title ambitions this year.
He can’t afford to slip up on Saturday. He is one of the most naturally talented boxers around at the moment. He just needs to believe in himself.
“We also have Bradley Saunders, who is special, and it has been great to work with him. He is relaxed and in the best shape I have ever seen in him. He is in a hurry. It is ambition that can definitely be fulfilled. We also have numerous others and I’m really looking forward to Saturday.”
IBF bantamweight challenger from West Rainton, County Durham
“Everything has been going really well. I’ve had a good training camp. A lot of people are saying it will be a quiet night for Stuart Hall, but it’s not.
“If Hall thought the Malinga fight was hard, I will be bringing a lot more than that to get my title.
“I have trained hard for 12 weeks and I’m ready to roll. I like Stuey, that’s why there’s not been a lot of needle there because he is a friend of mine, but don’t count me out.
“People say it’s one-sided, that’s rubbish. I can box and I will do what I have to do on Saturday night.”
Current IBF world bantamweight champion from Darlington
“I would like to thank Dennis for sorting this great fight out and to thank the press for turning up. I am relaxed. I am the champion.
“Martin is going in the ring so he has got a chance, he will try to grasp it. But there’s no way he is taking that belt away from me. No chance in a million miles.
It’s not happening. He is confident, I am confident. it’s going to be a great fight.
“If he thinks he is going to come along and take that belt from me, he has another thing coming. I am relaxed and ready for this. I am buzzing and can’t wait for Saturday.”
Stuart Hall's trainer
“I can only speak about my own fighter. Since Stuey fought Sergio Perales, he has grown and grown. The Malinga performance, the ding- dong, could not have gone any better.
“Training could not have gone any better and it’s time for Stuey Hall to let everyone know he is world class and he needs to do a world championship job on Saturday. That’s all I need to say, cheers.”
Ward’s long-term trainer
“All I really have to say is that we are all going out on Saturday night to enjoy ourselves. The pressure is not really on us. We have enjoyed every minute of the training.
“We have had the best sparring, the pressure is on them and not us. Martin has already been ruled out by loads of people, so he will turn up and do a job. That’s it.”
Birtley’s British cruiserweight champion, is to face Neil Dawson
“Come Saturday I want to make it three defences of my title to become the first Tyneside boxer to win the Lonsdale belt. I can do that and I am getting more excited as the days go by. The tickets are flying out and I can’t wait to beat Neil Dawson to win that belt.”
The Sedgefield lightwelterweight takes on Cumbernauld’s Mitch Prince
“I can’t really say anything. It has been unbelievable training in Marbella and sparring could not have gone any better against some top middleweights. They have not even been seeing the distance with 16oz gloves on, so I am more than ready for this fight.
“This fella I am fighting is very good. He has had 16, lost two, been to the Commonwealth Games, highly-decorated amateur, similar background to myself. He is a test.”
UK heavyweight debutant who has moved over from the United States
“It’s Fast Eddie Chambers ... It’s great to be here. It’s the right decision because what was the point in fighting over there for peanuts. This is a situation now where the sky is the limit.”
The Sunderland fighter defends his English lightweight crown against Fishburn’s Gary Fox
“Last time out I won the English title against Paul Truscott. It was a great fight against a very good opponent. I feel privileged to be on a bill so big and I am looking to retain my title and impress, hopefully be signed by one of the big guys.”
Guisborough’s promising light-welterweight ahead of facing Wiltshire’s Dan Carr
“Everything has gone well for me. I have been sparring great and it’s all been spot on. I have stepped things up and I am ready to go now.”