On top form,
marauding Manchester light-middle Matthew Hall is one of the most exhilarating
fighters in Britain.

The hard hooking
5ft 7 1/2 in ex Commonwealth champion and former British and European title
challenger has sent 16 victims for an early shower whilst amassing a 24-4 pro
card.

But the bullet-headed 27 year old
warmonger has proved vulnerable himself.  Three of his defeats have
concluded with Hall on his back, making his contests unmissable entertainment.

Ahead of his mouth-watering British title
final eliminator with Chislehurst’s ex champion Sam Webb at the Royal Albert
Hall on Saturday, the Mancunian found time to discuss his helter-skelter career
and future intentions with boxing writer Glynn Evans.

Hall v Webb will be televised live and
exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).

Your 10 year pro career has been a study
of inconsistency. At your best, you’ve smashed the likes of reigning European
middleweight king Kerry Hope and Bradley Pryce (to collect the Commonwealth
title), but have been bombed out yourself inside schedule by Martin Concepcion,
Anthony Small and Lukas Konecny. Any explanation?

Yeah,
I had problems with my breathing and that led to a few mental problems. I’d be
fighting when I knew my body weren’t quite right but couldn’t exactly put my
finger on why.  I never cut corners in training, never messed a gym
session or a run. At the gym, I knew I was training harder than anyone. I got
very frustrated, continually letting myself down.

When I got dropped and stopped by the
likes of Small and Konecny, it was purely down to fatigue. In prep for Konecny,
I thought I could walk through walls and I felt very good in the first two
rounds but, after that, nothing there.

Coming through as a young pro, I always
felt I could walk through anyone but you can’t beat nature. My body simply
wouldn’t allow me to do the things that I wanted to do anymore. I felt dead
weak all the time. I’d get very down and depressed. That’s why I kept on
retiring.

But recently, following tests, it’s
transpired that I’m allergic to certain foods that include glutton, wheat and
dairy products. Were I to eat them, I can contract flu-like symptoms.

Now that the problem has been diagnosed
and you’re sorted, would you covet a rematch with European champion Konecny?

Not just yet. Konecny was the best I’ve
faced by a country mile. I was more tired than hurt when I was dropped and stopped
(round six) but he had a water tight defence and was very accurate with every
shot. I won’t embarrass myself by calling for a rematch now ‘cos he’s on the
verge of a world title and I’ve got a British eliminator to take care of. First
things first.

Having announced your retirement
following the Konecny loss, why did you decide to give boxing another go?

I had an op on my nose that helped me
with my breathing then the doctors diagnosed the allergy. As an athlete I knew
I hadn’t been 100%. Coming through, early doors, I always felt indestructible.
I went unbeaten in my first 16 and most of the stoppages I had were proper
knockouts. I really wasted them. I just needed to give it a true go when I know
I’m firing on all cylinders.

In your first start back, you gave a
shocking performance and were out pointed over six by Bulgarian journeyman
Alexey Ribchev at the Bowlers Exhibition Centre in Manchester yet within a
month you’d outscored Paisley’s previously unbeaten Kris Carslaw over 10 in a
British eliminator up in Motherwell.  How do you account for the turn
around?

Against the Bulgarian, I weighed in at
middleweight on the night and was having to hold my body back. To be honest,
the guy was a goose and with another round, I’d have stopped him but, that night,
I was very, very poor. Boxing’s 90% mental and I just weren’t there.

I only had two and a half weeks to train
for Carslaw but I’m a naturally fit kid and it was just a matter of sorting a
few issues out and getting myself mentally prepared.

I was highly motivated for Carslaw.
Boxing’s my life, a sport I really love and I’m desperate to get at least a
British title out of it. I’d walk through walls for this sport. In my mind,
I’ve massively underachieved to date.

The Matty Hall who showed up in Motherwell
was a completely different fighter to the one who fought Ribchev. The Carslaw
fight was very fast paced yet in the last round I still had tons of energy. I’d
not previously been past eight rounds yet I did the ten easily. That’s the best
I’ve felt physically in a fight since I stopped Kevin Phelan inside a round six
years ago. With regards to my power and resistance, I feel a different man.

Following the loss to Small you left long
term trainer Brian Hughes to join Arnie Farnell’s gym. To what extent is
Farnell responsible for getting you back on the right track?

Well, firstly I have to say that Brian
was a great trainer but, because of his age and health, he got to the stage
that he could no longer give me what he once could.

Obviously, I grew up around Arnie when he
was a pro at Brian’s gym. Like Brian, I know Arnie’s got my best interests at
heart and, in this game, you need that trust.

Arnie’s the most dedicated trainer I’ve
known. There’s nowhere to hide in his gym. People who watched his career might
find it hard to believe, because his heart always took over and he’d just have
a fight, but Arnie’s actually got a brilliant boxing brain. He knows the game
inside out.

There’s a real good buzz at the gym with
Paul Butler and the Heffrons (Ronnie and Mark) though we all train at different
times so Arnie can give us all as much one-to-one as possible. We have a good
laugh. Unbelievably, I’m the old man of the gym….at just 27!

Whilst you were away another fighter from
the north-west, Blackpool’s Brian Rose, has risen to the British light-middle
title. Have your paths crossed?

Not really. I see him about but we’ve
never had a proper spar. He’s a real nice kid and I’m glad he’s done well but
this is a ruthless business and he’s got something that I want. No disrespect
to Brian but I think (making) weight killed Prince Arron the night Rose won his
title. I actually think Sam Webb is a harder fight for me than Brian would be.
I think Sam’s a better all rounder. That’s just my honest opinion.

Victory against ex champion Webb will put
you right back in the mix. How has your preparation gone?

I’m always training and running. The day
I can’t be arsed I retire. The games too hard and you’d get found out,
embarrassed.

I had just a week off after Carslaw then
was back in the gym right over Christmas and the New Year. We were initially
due to fight in March but I had a tooth infection in January and needed that
removed which caused a delay. I had to take two weeks off but I know I’m in the
Last Chance Saloon so just can’t afford to take any risks here.

I’ve just completed my last week of hard
sparring with Ronnie Heffron, Adam Little and Rick Godding, and now I’m
tapering down. I’m ready.

What’s your assessment of opponent Sam
Webb?

Nice kid, good operator. I’ve watched him
a few times. He beat one of my best mates Thomas McDonagh (pts10) so I know
he’s useful.

But stylewise, I think he should really
suit. Sam’s got a big heart, undoubtedly but he’s shown vulnerability with his
chin. Arron had him down and stopped him. He was decked and stopped on cuts by
Alex Stoda, dropped and cut by Max Maxwell.

He knows what’ll be bringing; the old
Matty Hall, better even than the one who stopped Kerry Hope and Bradley
Pryce. I feel far stronger and I’m hitting far harder.


Why will you be able
to beat him?

Talk is cheap and all questions will be
answered on April 28th but I just don’t
think he’ll be able to handle the pressure I’m going to bring. The way I’m
feeling now, I’m a million percent confident. I’ve got a smile on my face
again.

People forget that I can box. I won three
national junior titles in the amateurs but attack is definitely my best
defence. It’s going to be bloody and it’s going to be brutal!


You seem like you’ve
been around forever but you’re still only 27. Provided you come through against
Webb, what can you still achieve?

I definitely want a British title fight
this year and, should I win that, there’s really not much difference between
British and European level at the minute, once Konecny moves on for his world
title fight.

In my head I should’ve been British
champion five years ago. It’s a good job I turned pro so young (18). I’ve had
so many setbacks but, touch wood, it could still all come good for ‘El Torito’.

Remaining tickets priced at £40, £50, £75
and £100 can be purchesed from:

Ticketmaster: 0844 844 0444

Saunders v Hill and Hall v Webb is live
and exlcusive on Saturday 28th April on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 456/Virgin Ch. 546).
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