Dave Oakes previews Friday's Commonwealth title clash between bantamweights Stuart Hall and Josh Wale.
Stuart Hall steps back to domestic title level on Friday night after two disappointing losses in his last two title bouts. He faces the always entertaining Josh Wale for the Commonwealth bantamweight title on a non-televised card at the Dolphin Centre in Darlington, Hall’s hometown.
It’s a shame that the bout isn’t being shown on TV, it’s bound to be an entertaining scrap. Then again, with Sky seemingly only interested in Matchroom promotions, Frank Warren dominating Boxnation and Five only showing Hennessy fights, the door’s pretty much closed for all other promoters.
So, if you’re in the Darlington area on Friday and want to see a decent night of boxing, go along and enjoy it. You’ll get a good fight and you’ll be supporting the grassroots of boxing, which are taking a bit of a kicking at the minute. Boxing needs its small hall shows and local promoters as much as it needs the big arena fights and the Hearns’ and Warren’s of the world.
You know what you’re going to get when Wale fights – he’ll be in fantastic shape, he’ll keep coming forward and he’ll more than likely suffer a bad cut along the way. He’s been in plenty of entertaining battles in his career, proper toe-to-toe affairs, and I can see this being another one.
Hall has boxed at the higher level having won and defended the British title on three occasions, but has fallen short in both of his fights at European level - firstly against Jamie McDonnell and more recently against Lee Haskins four months ago. The McDonnell fight was expected to be closer than it was but Hall still put in a decent performance despite losing on points. The Haskins defeat was much more one-sided and far more worrying, Hall was never in the fight, neither physically nor mentally, it was an incredibly poor performance.
It may have just been a bad night at the office for Hall, a one-off bad performance that isn’t a true reflection of what he’s got left in the tank. People forget that he’s a young thirty-two; he’s only had sixteen fights and hasn’t had to dig deep that many times, so wear and tear shouldn’t be a problem, if it is, then Wale’s fitness and work-rate could prove decisive.
Wale is the perfect opponent to see what Hall has got left, he’s the kind of boxer Hall was beating comfortably a couple of years ago but is good enough to win if Hall has slipped as a fighter. He’ll come to fight and won’t be as hard to pin down as Haskins was, which should be to Hall’s liking, and should make for a watchable fight.
If Hall is back on form he should win a hard fought battle, either by a wide points margin or perhaps via a cuts stoppage - fragile skin being a problem that has hampered Wale throughout his career. Wale is in with a shout if Hall puts in a performance similar to the Haskins one, although the sensible pick is for Hall to return to domestic glory.