IT will be a case of Monte Carlo or bust for Stuart Hall when he becomes the first North-Easterner to challenge for a world title overseas at the end of next month – and the Darlington fighter is adamant he will not be leaving Monaco without reclaiming his crown.
Hall’s IBF World Bantamweight showdown with American Randy Caballero has been switched from Sheffield to Monte Carlo at the behest of promoter Dennis Hobson, and will take place in the Mediterranean resort on Saturday, October 25.
It will be the first time Hall, who relinquished his world title when he lost to Paul Butler at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena in June, has fought overseas, and the 34-year-old is looking to make history by becoming the first North-Easterner to successfully reclaim a world crown.
In an ideal world, he admits he would prefer to be taking on Caballero in England, but having drawn a line under the controversial decision that robbed him of victory against Butler, he is determined to return to winning ways next month.
“There’s been a lot gone on since the Caballero fight was first mentioned, but it’s good that everything’s sorted and we all know where we stand,” said Hall, who has also recorded a draw with Martin Ward since winning the world belt with a sensational performance against Vusi Malinga last December.
“At first, I’ll admit I was sceptical about going all the way to Monte Carlo to fight. It’s a long way away, and there’ll obviously be less of my fans there than if it was in Sheffield.
“But this is the way it’s got to be, and now I’ve got my head around it, I’m actually pretty excited. There’s not many boxers get the chance to say they’ve won a world title in somewhere like Monte Carlo.
“I’ve made a few changes since the Butler fight, and even though I still think the decision should have gone my way, I know I’ll have to fight differently to reclaim the belt. That’s exactly what I’m going to do, and once the bell goes, it won’t matter whether it’s in Monte Carlo or on the moon.”
The main change over the last few months has been Hall’s decision to switch trainers, leaving Leeds-based Michael Marsden to join veteran ring-man Paddy Lynch, who is based in Birmingham.
The switch means Hall will be making a daily commute to the Midlands as part of an intensive training camp, but any inconvenience is outweighed by the potential benefits of working with a coach who boasts more than 50 years experience.
Lynch, who has tutored nine British champions, retired from boxing in 2011, but has been persuaded to return to the gym to personally oversee Hall’s preparations.
“I couldn’t ask for a better person to have alongside me,” said Hall. “Paddy’s 69 now, but he’s seen everything there is to see in this sport, and he’s come out of retirement because he wants to help me become world champion again.
“He’s got so much experience and I feel really refreshed from working with him. No disrespect to Mick, but I just needed a fresh outlook on things and a few new ideas.
“Paddy has given me that, and I feel more confident now than at any other time in my career. Things didn’t go to plan against Butler – but now if feels as though they’re right back on track.”
They will have to be if Hall is to succeed against Caballero, a 23-year-old American who has won all 21 of his contests since turning professional in 2010.
He won the North American bantamweight title when he knocked out Miguel Robles last summer, and was last in the ring in April, when he stopped Japan’s Kohei Oba in the IBF’s bantamweight eliminator in Kobe.
“I’ve watched him a few times and he’s pretty decent,” said Hall. “But I like the fact that he likes to come forward so I’m not going to have to go looking for him. I’ll go toe-to-toe with any bantamweight in the world and his style should suit the way I fight.
“He won’t be trying to hide away like Butler was, and I’m ready to go all the way to get the job done. I’d fight for 15 rounds and still be coming on strong, never mind 12.
“He’s got a decent record, but this level is new to him. I’ve won a world title, and learned from all of my world-title fights. Let’s see how he handles himself on this stage.
“He’s probably watched the Butler fight and is thinking he’s going to have an easy night. One punch from me though, and he’ll have a rude awakening.”