IBF bantamweight champion Stuart Hall (16-2-2) retained his title on Saturday from Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, but the end was inconclusive.
The fight was ruled a technical draw after an accidental clash of heads opened a cut over the left eye of challenger Martin Ward (18-2-1).
The cut was in a terrible spot. It was right between the eyebrow and lid, so the stoppage was just. The flow of blood would have run into Ward’s eye the entire fight and drastically impaired his vision.
BoxNation’s official Twitter account sums up the feeling around the Metro Radio Arena:
An unfortunate anti-climax as Martin Ward is pulled from the fight after suffering a cut over his right eye from a clash of heads.— BoxNation (@boxnationtv) March 29, 2014
The decisive event took place during the first round, but the fight wasn’t stopped until 35 seconds into the second round. Ward’s corner was given a chance to keep the cut under control, but the placement was just too bad.
During the first round of action, Ward did a good job staying away from Hall. The champion was clearly the much bigger man. However, during the last 30 seconds of the first round, Hall caught Ward on the ropes and landed some solid body shots.
As Hall leaned in to throw a right hand, the two fighter’s heads came together. Ward didn't appear to be dazed. However, when cameras panned in to show the laceration up close, there was no reasonable argument that the fight should have continued.
It’s easy to see who the biggest loser was in this situation.
After paying his dues, facing some decent competition in the division, Ward was gutted by the way this fight ended. It seemed as if he would have preferred to be knocked out than to have it end the way it did.
Graeme Anderson of Sunderland Echo sympathized with Ward after the fight:
Got to feel for Martin Ward. Stuey Hall on top in first round but might have shaped up to be a cracking contest. #unlucky— graeme anderson (@sunechograeme) March 29, 2014
Some experts might have scoffed at Ward being given the opportunity to fight for a world title. Nonetheless, the fight was a reality. The 3:35 of fighting we saw wasn’t enough to determine whether he would have made the most of his shot.
Ward had a chance to prove he deserved to be considered an elite fighter in his weight class and to earn his first world title.
This unfortunate event took that away from him.
With bigger names on the horizon for Hall like Paul Butler—who was ringside with the BoxNation commentary team—Ward may not get a rematch.
Hall didn’t look at all disappointed with the way the night ended. It’s hard to blame him.
He walked away with his title and expended very little energy in the process. It’s probably the easiest night of work the 34-year-old champion will have in his career.
He’ll move on to bigger fights from here. Ward will be forced to take time off to get the cut repaired and hope for another championship opportunity down the road.
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