'I might be under-rated but I'm still world champion' says Stuart Hall

LINE UP: Stuart Hall and Paul Butler preview Saturday night's IBF world bantamweight clash. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH (6883066)

READY: Lewis Scott, Jon-Lewis Dickinson, Stuart Hall, Paul Butler, Ovill McKenzie, Bradley Saunders and Josh Leather at the Gateshead Hilton ahead of the show at the Metro Radio Arena. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH (6883031)

Top table: Stuart Hall, left, and his promoter, Dennis Hobson, sat alongside him, talk ahead of his IBF world bantamweight title defence against Paul Butler. Picture: CHRIS BOOTH (6883035)

First published in Sport

STUART HALL has geared himself up for the second defence of his IBF bantamweight world title shot by claiming a further victory would demand greater recognition for his achievements.

Co-promoter of tonight’s show at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, Francis Warren, suggested that Hall’s belt will be changing hands when challenger Paul Butler displays his potential and quality in the ring.

It was merely the latest comment Hall has had to take on board from the Butler camp since confirmation the fight was to take place a month ago, with social media providing the main source of needle.

Butler is a real threat to Hall’s crown tonight, with the Ellesmere Port boxer boasting an unblemished record of 15 wins from 15 professional fights to tee up the encounter.

But Darlington’s champion does not think he has ever received the credit he has deserved for his rise to the top and would love nothing more than to make even more people sit up and take notice by stopping one of the sport’s rising talents.

“I do think that I’m still under-rated,” said Hall. “Look, I’m an old school fighter. I’m not a flashy fighter. I get the job done and as long as I do that, it doesn’t matter. I can take a punch and I’ve got a massive heart. So let’s see if he can take a punch on Saturday.

“I’m under-rated because I’m not flashy, it’s simple. If I was a lot more skilful, that bit different, then I’d be a superstar. But that’s not what I’m like. People look at me differently, but it doesn’t bother me. I get forward and throw punches.

“You can’t pretend you are something you’re not. I won’t try to change. What I do, I do well and get good results against top class opponents.”

While his first defence of his crown ended disappointingly in a technical draw when West Rainton’s Martin Ward suffered a cut after a head collision at the end of March, Hall’s ringcraft and resilience was evident at Leeds in December.

That was when the 34-year-old edged an incredible 12-round contest with South African Vusi Malinga. “That was an amazing night, it was a blur,” said Hall, who finished with one eye closed after a gruelling encounter.

“I had to watch it back to remember what it was like and I’ll probably keep watching it for the rest of my life. I am a world champion. How many people can say that? It’s one of the great things about it.”

Such a tag to have with him when he walks around the North-East is something he is determined not to let slip tonight, but Warren thinks he could be heading in to a spot of bother.

“Stu is in for a really tough night,” said Warren. “An easier fight for Stu would have been the mandatory with (Randy Caballero). But Stu believes he will go in and do a job, he has a great mind and makes good business decisions.

“You need three things to succeed in this sport: One is talent, the other is dedication and the third thing is a bit of flair and spitefulness that only a few have in this sport. Paul Butler has also got everything he needs and will show that on Saturday night.”

Hall, understandably, has other ideas having worked his way to the pinnacle of the bantamweight division by winning 16 of his 20 contests, losing two.

“I am proper up for this now. They are who they are. They are trying to get under my skin. It won’t work. I am ready, ready to do him good and proper,” said Hall.

“I am not like that. Am I? I’m just humble and loving every minute of this. I’m thankful for where I am. What’s the point in stressing yourself out by arguing? Why get into daft arguments, stupid things like that? They are trying to get under my skin, but I’ll get under his chin when we get going.

“He has 15 wins, no loss, so he’s going to be a threat. I am taking him very seriously. To be honest, I think this is a bit of a step up for him. I am going to punch him hard and bully him.”

Also appearing on tonight’s show will be Birtley’s British cruiserweight champion Jon-Lewis Dickinson when he takes on Commonwealth ruler Ovill McKenzie and Sedgefield’s Bradley Saunders is pushing for WBO inter-continental glory.

Brighton’s Chris Eubank Jnr, County Durham’s Thomas Patrick Ward, Doncaster’s Dave Allen and Jason Cunningham, Sunderland’s Jordan King, Wales’ Rhys Evans, Northumberland’s Lewis Scott and Young Fury, brother of Tyson, will also be on the card.

*There are some tickets priced at £40 and £75 still available via Box Office 0844 493 6666 (VIP Packages 0114 243 4443) or from dennishobson.com

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