Stuey Hall will take a shot at North East boxing history tonight determined to enjoy it, according to trainer and manager Mick Marsden.
The Darlington bantamweight takes on South African Vusi Malinga for the vacant IBF title. Win and he will be only the North East’s second world boxing champion, after Glenn McCrory took the IBF cruiserweight belt in 1989.
McCrory’s presence at ringside will be a visible reminder of the height the former roofer is attempting to scale.
“This fight is bigger pressure than any he’s ever done because it’s for a world title,” said Marsden. “But he’s fought for a few titles already and that’s given him extra maturity. We’ve both said he needs to go out and enjoy it because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
“Glenn McCrory won his title more than 20 years ago and Stu’s an ambitious man. He wants to be as good as he can be.”
Malinga has fought for the belt before, losing to Leo Santa Cruz in June 2012, whereas Hall has not competed above European level, or won anything more significant than the Commonwealth title.
But Marsden believes having only turned professional as a 28-year-old will help him.
“I’m expecting a very strong, durable and game fighter who will come straight to us,” said Marsden. “He knows it’s his last chance. Stuart knows that, but it could be his last chance too. Malinga’s 34 but Stuart’s 33. He’s got a bit of an advantage because it’s his first attempt (at a world title) and everything’s new and more exciting for him.
“Stu’s a mature man. The little things you get in your mind, he’s overcome all of those.
“He’s a grown man and he understands the aspects of the sport. Sometimes when you’re young you can get lost in a bit of bravado.
“The two fights he’s had for the European title (lost to Jamie McDonnell and Lee Haskins) have ended up doing him more good than harm. Big fights bring fighters on.”
Fighting in Leeds, where he trains with Marsden, is no hardship either.
“We would have liked to have fought for it in the North East but it wasn’t possible, so it’s quite good it’s in Leeds instead,” said Marsden. “It’s not really out of his way and he’s got a few fans there.
“He went for the weigh-in, then went home. It’s good if you can go home and have a few of your own comforts the night before a fight. Malinga will be sat in a hotel. You’re always better off in your own environment.”