Stuart Hall vs. Martin Ward: Preview and Prediction for World-Title Fight

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Stuart Hall vs. Martin Ward: Preview and Prediction for World-Title Fight
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Stuart Hall (pictured) makes the first defence of his IBF bantamweight title on Saturday night against challenger Martin Ward at the Metro Arena in Newcastle.

The fight is notable for a few reasons. It marks the return of boxing to the North-East of England and it is the first world-title bout to be contested by two men from that region. It also gives Martin Ward the chance to become the first person from the travelling community to win a world-title.

It's also arguably the worst world-title fight ever held in the UK to be sanctioned by one of the four major bodies i.e. the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO, barring perhaps the early years of the WBO, before it established a veneer of credibility.

At least it can be said that, unlike some other dubious world-title contests, this should not be a mismatch—because neither man is a proven world-level operator.

The IBF belt was declared vacant when Doncaster's Jamie McDonnell was deemed to have failed to make his obligations and Hall won the vacant title against Vusi Malinga in December.

Hall has a record of 16-2-1 with seven stoppages while Ward is 18-2 with just four stoppages.

Both fighters have lost to Lee Haskins in the past two years, defeats that remain unavenged, whilst Hall also lost to McDonnell in 2011. It is therefore arguable that it is actually McDonnell and Haskins who are the top two British bantamweights.

The winner of this one may well defend next against another of the British contenders, with there being talk that Eddie Hearn would like to make a Hall-McDonnell rematch for the Froch-Groves undercard in May.

That assumes Hall makes his way past Ward—he is the clear betting favourite to do so. Now let's examine why that is.

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