Lee Haskins will fight for his shot at the IBF world bantamweight title in Newcastle Arena on June 7, and the Bristolian’s camp expect it to come against Stuey Hall.
The pick of world boxing’s bantamweight division will be on show on Tyneside next month, with Haskins taking on Sergio Perales for the right to meet the winner of the night’s headline fight, between Darlington’s Hall and Paul Butler.
After the complicated politics which followed Hall’s technical draw with West Rainton’s Martin Ward in the last Arena show, the immediate future seems to be more clearly mapped out now.
“We’re very excited,” said Haskins’s manager/trainer Chris Sanigar. “Haskins has been in big fights throughout his career but without a doubt this is the biggest. We’re looking forward to coming up there and doing a good job.
“We’re expecting a very tough fight. Haskins is very elusive and picks his shots, but Perales’ style should suit us.”
Perales is ranked five in the world, claiming 16 of his 24 wins by knockout, half within the first four rounds.
Sanigar expects whoever comes out on top to be facing Hall, whose technical draw with Martin Ward – after the West Rainton man suffered a bad cut above the eye in round one – was the first defence of his title.
“I think Stuart Hall will win,” he said. “I think he’s improved since he’s become champion.
“I watched him win the title against Vusi Malinga (in December) and was thrilled at how strong he came on at the end, he boxed very well.
“I think he’ll scrape through because I don’t think Butler has been in the fights Stuart has, and I think experience will see him through.
“All three of them (Hall, Butler and Caballero) are very good boxers and it would be tough against all of them. But if our man is on song then I would pick Haskins to beat all three of them in very highly-contested fights.
“They’ll be close and any one of them would be a great fight, but I see our man edging it.”
Perales narrowly lost to Hall in 2013, when the Darlington man descrived him as the hardest puncher he had ever seen. Haskins, though, has a points win over Hall on his record, from 2012. There is a fair amount of bad blood between Hall and Merseyside Butler, who have sparred together in the past, although there are differing accounts of just how that went. Butler, who has knocked out eight of his 15 previous opponents, also claimed Hall did not want to take him on.
It is something Hall, at 34 nine years his opponent’s senior, has been quick to refute.
“I’m over the moon it’s Paul Butler,” he said. “I can’t wait to get in the ring with him. He’s talking the talk, but he can say what he wants, I’ve heard it all before.
“He’s trying to get under my skin, saying I’ve got a chip on my shoulder, but I haven’t at all.
“He needs to watch what he’s saying on social media, he’s upset my family.
“It’s got a bit personal and it’s going to be a great fight because I can’t wait to shut him up. Once he finds his shots don’t do anything and I’m still on him, I know what’s going to happen in this fight.
“He’s trying to convince himself, but he doesn’t realise how hard I hit. He’s been getting it all his own way, but I’m just concentrating on myself for the next few weeks.
“One thing is sure though, I’ve never been so up for a fight.
“He says I’ve got one plan, to bully him for four rounds and I’ve got no ‘Plan B’. I’m going to bully him for 12 rounds!”
As with Hall’s last show, the fighters on the show will be put through their paces at the Metrocentre Qube. Among them will be local boxers Josh Leather (Guisborough), Bradley Saunders (Sedgefield), Tommy Ward (West Rainton), Jordan King (Sunderland) and Lewis Scott (Newbiggin). The public workout is on May 31 at 11am.