Light middleweight Commonwealth champion Matthew Hall (22-2, 15 KO’s) was stopped in the 8th round by Anthony Small (22-1, 16 KO’s) on the Amir Khan vs. Andriy Kotelnik undercard at the M.E.N. Arena, in Manchester, England. Hall, 25, never seemed to get untracked against the faster and taller Small. In the 8th round, Hall was hurt from a big right hand from Small. Besides the Commonwealth belt, the vacant British light middleweight title was also on the line for the fight. >Following that, Small unloaded with a flurry of shots ending with a chopping right hand, leaving Hall leaning forward almost defenseless and about to go down. Referee James Davies then stepped in and stopped the bout at 2:21 before Small could add a finishing punch. Had Small hit Hall one more time, Hall would have likely pitched forward face first on the canvas.
Lead up to Saturday night’s fight, there was bad blood between Hall and Small, because both had talked back and forth insulting one another during the pre-fight hoopla. If looks could kill, Small would have been dead for certain as the two fighters met at center ring to listen to the referee’s instructions as Hall was staring holes through Small. For his part, Small merely smiled and laughed, not seeing to care that much about Hall’s hostility towards him.
In the opening round, Small fought in a wild out of control style of fight, throwing punches from odd angles and clinching a lot. It looked as if Small was just trying to create problems for Hall without trying to actually go out and win the fight. There were few opportunities for Hall to land any shots during the round with the movement, angles and constant clinching from Small. Hall, who patterns his fighting style after Mike Tyson, was able to land some nice body shots, but he didn’t throw enough to win the round.
In the 2nd and 3rd rounds, Small continued to clinch a great deal. Small had it down to a science where he would throw a punch and then immediately grab Hall to prevent him from countering him. It worked well, because Hall wasn’t getting many opportunities to land anything. However, Hall made the most of his chances by throwing some nice uppercuts to the head.
The round still ended up close, though, because Small landed most of the shots due to his movement clinching. Referee James Davies seemed exasperated with Small’s herky-jerky style of fighting. He reprimanded both fighters at one point, telling them that they were fighting a boring fight for the boxing fans.
It’s hard to blame Hall, though, because he was more than willing to slug it out but he couldn’t do anything with Small because of his punch and grab technique and his movement. Small’s much better hand speed and slight reach was also a factor that he had going for him.
In the 4th round, Hall received a small cut on the side of his left eye due to a clash of heads. Small was backed up often during the round and fought with his back to the ropes much of the time, using the opportunity to land short fast punches to the head of Hall.
In the 5th and 6th rounds, Small caught serious and began to put more power into his shots. This seemed to have a negative effect on Hall, because his work rate dropped off significantly in both of the rounds. Hall was beginning to look a little intimidated and confused, as if he realized that the fight was slipping out of his hands.
In the 7th round, things got worse for Hall when he was cut over his right eye. In contrast to the cut on the side of his left eye which was a small one, this was a bad cut and it leaked blood constantly into Hall’s eye. As soon as the cut opened, Small began to attack Hall in a ferocious manner, pelting him with a huge shots.
Now fighting for survival, Hall began to fight back hard throwing big shots and having his best round since the first. However, in the 8th round, Small came out strong, putting everything he had in each shots and snapping Hall’s head frequently with jolting punches.