Stuart Hall won't change his ways as he looks to retain IBF World Title

Darlington fighter Stuart Hall is old fashioned and uncomplicated - which is why he's so under-rated

Action Images / Paul Currie Boxer Stuart Hall
Boxer Stuart Hall

The press conference was a minute or so old when the shouts started coming from the floor.

Stuart Hall looked straight ahead, over his IBF bantamweight world title belt, utterly uninterested in the commotion.

Hosting the top table was Asif Vali, former manager of Amir Khan and minibus company owner, who made a jibe about certain people not turning up for a previous press event.

It was aimed at the camp of Paul Butler whom Hall will fight tonight at the Metro Arena Centre in Newcastle in defence of his title.

There was a touch of pantomime about it, that’s boxing for you, as insults were traded before a decision, sensibly, was made we should forget what had or had not happened and instead concentrate on what should be the North East’s best boxing night for a long time.

Hall’s facial expression didn’t change. Not once. Even for a second.

Boxing always has a sense of the dramatic about when it comes to weigh-ins and press calls. It’s all good clean-ish fun and helps with publicity.

 

There are fighters out there, too many of them as a matter of fact, who are great at all this self-promotion, but can’t really back up their big talk when they step into the ring.

Hall is not like this. It’s why he isn’t as famous as he should be. It’s why Butler’s camp could shout and scream in his face and it wouldn’t have made the slightest difference.

The Darlington man is only about the job in hand. Nothing more. It makes him all the more impressive.

When asked what he thought of what had gone on in the Gateshead Hilton, Hall said: “They are who they are. They are trying to get under my skin. It won’t work. I am ready to do him. Proper.

“I am not like that, am I? I’m just humble I am loving every minute of this and 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.

“This is a massive night. It’s a big, big fight. This is what boxing is all about. I want to be in big fights like this. I want to be victorious.”

Mike Egerton/PA Wire Stuart Hall in action against South African Vusi Malinga
Stuart Hall in action against South African Vusi Malinga
 

When the photographers were finished and Hall’s time with the written press came, he remained passive, calm, wearing the expression of a gambler holding a full house.

Why get into histrionics when you know you’re going to win?

This is why, outside of the region, Hall is under-rated. Ignored even. When this was put to him, he almost broke out of character.

You could tell that annoys him, not that he’s going to make a song and dance about it.

Hall added: “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 have a massive heart. So let’s see if he can take a punch on Saturday. I do think I’m under-rated because I’m not a flashy fighter. If I was a lot more skilful, that bit different, then I’d be a superstar.

“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.”

Butler, who at 25 is nine years younger than his opponent, steps up a division here and is the underdog. Even for a bantamweight he is small.

Although his manager Francis Warren said he couldn’t see “anything other than a victory for Paul, and an emphatic one.”

Hall, would you believe, is unconcerned.

He said: “He has 15 wins, no losses, 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.

“It’s a tough fight, but there are no excuses if I don’t win.”

At 34, success has come late for Hall and perhaps that is why he seems still unable to believe he won the belt in December, when he won a points victory over the South African Vusi Malinga.

Hall recalled: “That was an amazing night. It was a blur.

“I had to watch it back to remember what it was like.”

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