Following his sizzling bantamweight debut at Aintree earlier this month, new WBA Intercontinental king Paul Butler has designs on taking the outside lane to a 118lb world title shot.
Already ranked 12th by the WBA, ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ shall be a keen ringside spectator at the IBF World title spat between north-east rivals Stuey Hall and Martin Ward at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena on Saturday 29th March. And don’t be surprised if, post-fight, piston Paul is trying to goad the winner into chancing their arm against him this summer, in what would be another big domestic blockbuster.
Hall-Ward forms part of a triple title bill – which also includes Jon Lewis Dickinson’s British title defence against Yorkshire bomber Neil Dawson and ex world amateur champion Frankie Gavin defending his Commonwealth welter strap against Namibia’s Sacky ‘The Snake’ Shikukuta – can be seen live and exclusive in the UK on BoxNation, the Channel of Champions from 7pm on Sky Ch. 437/HD 490 and Virgin Ch.546. Join at www.boxnation.com
On Saturday morning, boxing writer Glynn Evans rang the 25 year old contender from Ellesmere Port to hear his views on the principals and his prediction on who will triumph.
“I was at Stuey’s title win over Vusi Malinga in Leeds last December and I’ll be ringside for this one too. It should be a great fight. Hopefully, they’ll really knock lumps out of one another and I can take advantage down the line!
We’ve been planning a challenge for the IBF World Bantamweight title since December. Frank (Warren) reckons I’m big enough and strong enough to succeed at world level up at 8st 6(lbs) and it’s probably easier to negotiate than to bring one of the foreign super-fly champions over. I had hoped to be Stuey’s first challenger. Hopefully, I’ll meet whoever wins this one. I’d have no issue about going up to the north-east. I’ll fight the champion, wherever.
Stuey’s been on my radar since he boxed my amateur clubmate Nick McDonald in the 2007 ABA final. Hall lost that one then got beat by (2012 Olympic champion) Luke Campbell in the semis the following year.
I’ve sparred with Stuey right the way through the pros. I think I get the better of it, I’m sure he’d say different. Last time, a couple of years back, we sparred in a ridiculously small ring at Mike Marsden’s gym in Leeds. Every time I took a backward step my back hit the ropes so Stuey might take confidence that he could force me back.
However, when we were in the centre of the ring I felt I was able to handle Stuey pretty easily. He struggled with my speed and skill. And he was a lot bigger than me then. I could probably have still made flyweight at the time.
The most impressive thing about Stuey is his 33 year old ‘man strength’. That’s what got him through against Malinga. He’s a very big bantam and I’ve still got a lot of building up to do. I was surprised how tall he was.
He can also drop his shoulder and throw a nice right hand as we all saw in his world title win over Malinga. It’s especially effective against a southpaw. That’s probably why he chose Martin Ward as his first challenger.
He’s more a clubbing puncher than a sharp snappy banger. When he connects, you know he’s landed but the shots are telegraphed, you can see them coming. He’s also a bit stiff and upright. His foot movement isn’t great.
I’ve followed Martin Ward since he was an 11 year old schoolboy. He was a quality junior but didn’t do much as a senior amateur and got stopped twice earlier on in his pro career. Lee Haskins walked through him pretty easily in five rounds less than a year ago.
As a pro, Martin’s not the most powerful but he’s very slick and slippery. He’s got very quick feet and hands plus that southpaw stance. He had the amateur style off to a tee – he was a nightmare to face – but you can’t really sustain those tactics over a 12 round championship fight. Physically, I don’t think he’s strong enough at top professional level and his chin might be a bit suspect. He’s been found out. Haskins just walked through him.
If he’s to cause an upset on Saturday night he’ll need to get himself super fit then try to capitalise on his faster hands and feet by constantly giving Stuey Hall angles. Stuey struggles to cope with that. It’s quite possible that Martin could win some early rounds while Stuey warms into the fight. The big question is whether Martin has the fitness and strength to sustain it. My guess is that he hasn’t.
To make things easiest for himself, I think Stuey needs to make Ward stand and fight as early as he can, draw him into range. Martin hasn’t got much top level experience and, before a big, noisy crowd, he might be tempted to trade . If that happens, it’ll be an easy night for Stuey.
I’m not sure two lads from the north-east have ever contested a world title fight before so there should be a fabulous atmosphere. It might be quite interesting for four or five rounds. I expect it to start cagily and for Martin to hold his own early. But once his feet start to slow, I expect Stuey to take over and get him out of there by about round eight. He’s too big, too strong and hits too hard.”