Stuart Hall faces his defining night on December 21 at the First Direct Arena in Leeds when big-hitting South African Vusi Malinga heads to the UK for their vacant IBF bantamweight title clash.
The fight tops a big night of boxing in Yorkshire with Hall v Malinga tickets said to be in high demand and a stacked undercard featuring Frankie Gavin, Gary Sykes and Paul McCloskey recently announced.
At 33 years-old, Darlington’s Hall goes into the fight with two defeats against highly-ranked compatriots Jamie McDonnell and Lee Haskins on his record and it did raise a few eyebrows when promoter Dennis Hobson announced his title chance.
Hall now has to make the leap into world-class level, where opponent Malinga has operated before, although the Briton can take heart from the fact that the southpaw has been found wanting when challenging the elite in the past.
Malinga, 34, suffered losses to Leo Santa Cruz and Hozumi Hasegawa in recent world title attempts, although heads into the fight with an all-round more impressive collection of opponents faced than Hall.
It could be argued that both are lucky to be in the position they are in, but one will be lifting the red belt aloft next month and the home fans will obviously hoping that Hall will be able to pull off the win.
If Hall is successful against the odds, what price then a return with McDonnell on British soil in 2014? That rematch would be seen as a no-brainer with fight fans and only the fall-out of McDonnell’s switch to Matchroom may put a block on it happening.
McDonnell and Hall’s promoter Hobson ended their relationship on less-than-happy terms and the former title holder may be best served looking at other options with new handler Eddie Hearn in the future.
Whatever happens, the British have the chance to end 2013 with six world champions if Tony Bellew and Hall can triumph in their respective bouts – adding to Scott Quigg, Carl Froch, Ricky Burns and Darren Barker if the Londoner comes through Felix Sturm in Germany.
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