Stuart Hall proved his world class credentials by giving Golden Boy star Randy Caballero the fight of his life in Monte Carlo last night (October 25).
Hall was vying to become a two-time world champion against touted prospect Caballero, with the pair battling for the vacant IBF world bantamweight crown – the title previously held by Hall.
In a fantastic contest – screened live on Channel 5 – Hall and Caballero left it all in the ring, with the pair battling to a standstill before going to the judge’s scorecards.
Hall was over for a flash knockdown in round two, but came back at the American with all guns blazing. With plenty of rounds close, and the action frenetic, many people ringside had the contest even and were left puzzled by the wide ledgers.
Two judges scored it 116-111 for the pre-fight favourite Caballero, while British judge Steve Gray had it a baffling 118-110.
After the fight, we caught up with Darlington’s Hall:
What are your thoughts on the fight and how hard was it?
It was a very tough fight and he was the best I’ve ever fought, I think. He was tactical, but I pushed him right to the limit. The judges’ scoring was miles off. I thought it was very close and the knockdown was the difference between winning and losing.
The scorecards were very wide, what did you make of them?
I don’t know what the English judge was watching. All I’ve heard, with people getting in touch and on social media, is that the judges were miles off, especially the English one. I’m not sure I’d have got it [the decision] though even if I had won it.
How did you instinctively feel you’d done?
I honestly thought the knockdown was the difference. I thought maybe by one or two rounds he might have got it but he was on his bike and I was the aggressor in the fight.
Was the knockdown a genuine one?
I was a bit off balance, but in all fairness it was a good punch. It was a good shot; he’s a class fighter. I got back up though and it was only the second round. I bet he didn’t think he was going to end up going 12 rounds when he put me down!
Caballero is being talked about as the future of the division – you proved again that you’re world class, didn’t you?
Definitely, of course I did. Maybe, because he was unbeaten, the judges swayed more towards him but he even said last night it was his hardest ever fight. He said he’s never looked like that after a fight. On that performance last night, if it was anyone else I’d have beat them.
You’re 34 and have been in some wars – what’s the future?
Well, I can’t finish on that note can I? I’m going to have a little break, then sit down with Paddy [Lynch] and see where we go from there. There’s life in the old dog yet! I’d still like to fight Jamie McDonnell that would be a great fight.
You seemed to have even more facets to your game against Caballero – are you still improving?
I’m definitely still improving. That was just after six weeks, so imagine what I’d be like if I was training with them [new trainers Paddy Lynch and Max McCracken] for six months. Things come naturally, but I had to think last night with the changes. But that was the best I’ve ever felt. Going into the twelfth round, I felt so fighting fit. I’d sparred over 100 rounds for this fight, so if I’d been with them 10 weeks in might have been a different story. Everyone I’ve spoken to thought it was close though, and that’s good enough for me.