The official announcement is not expected until Monday but the secret is out – two North East boxers will fight for a world title in Newcastle.
When he beat Vusi Malinga in Leeds just before Christmas, Darlington’s Stuey Hall became only the second boxer from the region to claim a world title. Even if he loses his first defence, the IBF belt will remain in the area.
Hall will make a voluntary defence against Rainton’s Martin Ward, the Commonwealth champion, at Newcastle Arena on March 29.
That has been an open secret for the past few days and although it is yet to be officially confirmed, Hall’s promoter Dennis Hobson jumped the gun in an interview in Manila published yesterday.
Speaking of the 33-year-old, Hobson told RingTV.com: “He’s going to be fighting on March 29 in Newcastle against another North East kid, Martin Ward.
“It’s the first time two guys from the North East will ever have fought for a meaningful world title. I’m getting good at making history! I’m pleased to be doing so and it’s going to be a great fight.” Long before claiming the Commonwealth belt with victory over Gabriel Odoi Laryea in Newcastle a fortnight earlier, Ward has looked a champion in the making.
His breakthrough came in September 2012, beating veteran Jason Booth to claim the English title, but an attempt to upgrade to the vacant British belt was ended by Lee Haskins in April. The 25-year-old Birtley product will be seen as the less experienced fighter but has more professional wins, coming out on top in 18 of 20 paid contests, as opposed to 16 from 19 for Hall.
Ward is the more stylish of the two, but few can match Hall for determination.
The former British, Commonwealth and IBF Inter-Continental champion won plaudits for his display against Malinga, winning with a left eye so swollen he could not see out of it in the last couple of rounds.
Birtley’s Jon-Lewis Dickinson will defend his British cruiserweight title against Neil Dawson on the undercard, which will also feature exciting Sedgefield talent Bradley Saunders.