By John Hannen at ringsdide: Darlington’s Stuart Hall is the new Commonwealth ruler in the bantamweight division after outpointing Barnsley’s Josh ‘The Outlaw’ Wale for the vacant title in his hometown’s Dolphin Centre on Friday(Nov 16).
‘Stuey’ (8st 6lbs) entered the ring to fireworks, and produced them on the canvas as he outworked and outfought his lacklustre opponent in an enthralling encounter.
Josh (8st 5¼lbs) came to the contest with a decent 14-4-1 (7) ledger and a reputation as one of the UK’s ‘young guns’ but – although he never stopped trying – he never really seemed to get going, perhaps not least because of Hall’s inspired performance.
The North East man set his stall out from the beginning, establishing his jab and following it up with twos and threes.
Josh continuously tried to walk Hall down, and inevitably had some sporadic successes, but seemed to have little spark and was often met with accurate, returning fire.
The pace naturally slowed in the second half of the contest and the pair went toe to toe – at times getting warned by referee Howard Foster about heads – and slugged away at each other.
Although these later sessions were closer, Stuart was still more accomplished, had the greater work rate and produced all the eye catching shots.
There was little surprise at ringside after the final bell when the unanimous decision was announced; judge John Keane had it 119 – 110; Steve Gray 120 – 110, and Dave Parris scored 120 – 108.
Stuart, now 14-2-1 (7), the former British champion, can look forward to defending his new crown, as well as chasing another crack at domestic top honours, potentially in an all North East encounter with English champion Martin Ward. A rematch with imminent world title challenger Jamie McDonnell will also be firmly in the Darlington man’s future plans.
On the undercard, Neil Hepper, another Darlington man, got back to winning ways after a recent defeat to Fishburn’s Gary Fox by outpointing Lithuanian Arturas Zbarauskas over four-threes.
In a thoroughly entertaining affair, Hepper (10st ¾lbs) gave the crowd their money’s worth by getting involved in a slugfest when he could have comfortably won the contest behind the jab.
At distance Hepper easily had the beating of Zbarauskas (10st 2¾lbs) but the local elected to get involved, which invariably saw him landing some big punches but shipping flush shots too.
The East European was brave and took a shellacking at the end of the third from Neil, but he bit down on his gumshield and made it through to the final bell still throwing back.
Referee Graeme Williams scored 40-36. Neil is now 4-2; Zbarauskas is 0-4.
Middlesbrough’s Shafiq ‘Chubzy’ Asif (10st 2¼lbs) continued to impress in his fledgling pro career with a shutout four-threes win over tough Matt Seawright (10st 4½lbs) from Tamworth.
Asif has fast hands and throws every shot with spite, evidenced by Matt’s red midriff at the conclusion of the first.
From the second onwards, Seawright decided that the best form of defence was attack and came forward and threw more punches to keep Shafiq occupied.
Ultimately the Teesider won at a canter and often snapped back his opponent’s head with crisp, accurate shots.
Shafiq though – as is the way with boxing – didn’t get off scot-free, for example catching a flush left hook in the third.
Referee Williams rightly scored 40-36. Seawright is 3-66-4. Asif is 6-0 (1) and looks ready to move up in class.
November 17, 2012.