Darlington’s Stuart Hall has become the UK’s fourth world champion joining Ricky Burns, Carl Froch and Scott Quigg with a warrior-like performance at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
The 33 year-old, who only turned pro in 2008, battled hard with three-time world title challenger Vusi Malinga for twelve rounds and ultimately left the ring with the IBF bantamweight belt around his waist.
Following a cagey first round, Hall looked good in the second and proceeded to drop Malinga early in the third with a solid straight right hand. Malinga looked stunned and shaky upon getting to his feet and took another round to find his feet in the contest as Hall poured on the pressure.
In the fifth and sixth, Malinga, 34, began showing why he was put forward for the clash in the first place as the South African finally found his jab and connected on Hall’s face with more regularity.
An even seventh followed that could have gone either way, although Hall’s left eye bared the damaged of some sweet shots by Malinga and worryingly could have been a major factor in how the fight ended.
Luckily the referee didn’t get too involved as Hall bravely fought through the pain as Malinga came on strong through rounds nine and ten to set up a grandstand finish with the crowd on their feet.
Knowing that he needed to bank the last two rounds, the badly swollen Hall duly did so and eventually carded a 117-110 (twice), 116-111 victory on the scorecards in a late contender for Fight of the Year.
Talk will no doubt shift to a possible rematch with former title holder Jamie McDonnell when the dust settles, but Hall can toast a gutsy display and enjoy being the champion of the world before that time comes.
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