STUART HALL has retained his IBF bantamweight title – but in the most bizarre of circumstances.
His fight with Martin Ward was ended just 35 seconds into the second round, with the challenger suffering a cut to the right side of his cheek.
The happened during the first round with an accidental clash of heads. Ward, from West Rainton, was treated by his cornermen after the bell and returned to the ring.
After a fierce ending to the first round, it seemed all set for a brutal and entertaining bout.
But the referee stopped the fight, calling a technical draw with less than four rounds were completed.
The electric atmosphere inside the Metro Radio Arena dipped instantly and Hall was announced as the reigning champion.
Earlier on the bill, Bradley Saunders had a convincing and stylish victory over Mitch Prince, the fight stopped in the fourth round.
And there was delight for big Jon-Lewis Dickinson who gets to keep the Lonsdale belt outright after a third victory.
He saw off Neil Dawson with a tenth round stoppage.

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