Stuart Hall lined up for first defense

Just three months after winning a vacant bantamweight title, England’s Stuart Hall will be back in the ring for his first defense.

That’s a long way from where Hall once was -- down and out and hooked on drugs and alcohol.

The 33-year-old eventually got clean and on Dec. 21 won a decision against South Africa’s Vusi Malinga in an exciting fight to claim a vacant 118-pound title in the biggest win of his career. On March 29 (BoxNation in the U.K.), in Newcastle, England, Hall (16-2-1, 7 KOs) will make his first defense against 25-year-old Martin Ward (18-2, 4 KOs).

“My adrenaline has been pumping since becoming champion against Malinga, and I just can’t wait to get back into the ring again,” Hall said. “I fought so hard to win the world title, and I’m going to defend it even harder. Ward’s a good fighter, but he’s not been through what I went through to get this belt and there’s no way I’m giving it up. It’s a Northeast derby, and not only is a world championship on the line but also pride.”

Hall and Ward are both from the same area in County Durham, England, giving the match a turf-war feel to it.

“We’ve never had anything like this in the past up here, where two local lads are fighting each other for a world title,” Hall said. “It’s going to be an exciting night. There’s going to be drama, but I’ll be walking out that ring with my belt -- there’s no doubt about that.

“I’m certain my fight with Ward will have that same buzz [as the fight with Malinga] because we’re both hungry and the atmosphere will be electric on the night.”

Hall said while he likes to fight at home, he is willing to travel, if necessary, to get bigger fights.

“I hope we can bring the biggest names here for the British fans and put on some huge shows. But I’ll fight anyone and anywhere; it doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I want to take on the biggest names in the division, and I’m sure there’s going to be some great fights for me down the road. There are some great domestic fights to be made, but there’s also a chance to unify the belts against the likes of Anselmo Moreno and Shinsuke Yamanaka. Those would be some top fights.”