TRAINER Steffy Bull believes that Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell versus Stuart Hall could be the early contender for fight of the year.
The bantamweight showdown for the British, Commonwealth and European titles this Saturday, kicks off the new boxing season in style at the Doncaster Dome.
In what is billed as a 50-50 fight, pundits have been split on who they think will be victorious. Bull though is confident his man can come through, but is under no illusions that it will be a tough test for the 25-year-old.
He said: “It’s a massive fight domestically and a big thing for Doncaster.
“Certainly on paper it looks like it could be fight of the year. Stuart’s obviously undefeated and like Jamie, he’s a come-forward, exciting fighter.
“I think it says a lot about Jamie that he took this fight because he didn’t have to.”
Darlington’s Hall, at 31, is older but Jamie has more experience as a professional, having 20 fights compared with Hall’s 11.
He ditched his party animal lifestyle to return to boxing in 2008. Since then he’s racked up 11 straight victories and won the British title outright earlier this year with a stoppage win over Liverpudlian John Donnelly.
Hall has been calling McDonnell out for some time and the 25-year-old admits he’d had enough of him.
“Stuart was really starting to annoy me so I thought it was time we got it on,” he said last week.
“To be fair to him he probably deserves a crack at me because he’s won the British title outright but it was all down to me whether this fight was made.
“This is an easier fight than what I could have had at this stage and I’m supremely confident that I can do a job on him.”
Bull, however, was keen to play down any animosity between the pair, insisting they share a mutual respect.
He said: “There’s no needle between the two. Jamie is a nice kid and hasn’t got a bad word to say about anybody and he respects that Stuart is a good fighter. This could definitely be his toughest fight.
“We’re all set though. Jamie has had his check weight and weighed in at eight stone ten so we’re right on schedule.
“Stuart is a good kid but I don’t think he’s got enough weapons in his armoury to trouble Jamie, even at his best. So long as Jamie turns up and sticks to what we’ve been working on, I can only see a Jamie McDonnell win.”
Promoter Dennis Hobson also believes the fight can only go one way – and says McDonnell will gain valuable experience from the bout.
He said: “Jamie is a lot further forward than Stuart in boxing and some people will see it as a step back to fight a domestic level fighter, but there’s nothing like a good domestic scrap to build up your credibility.
“We could have moved onto the world scene but we’ve decided to take this fight instead and it’s going to be a tough one. I think Jamie will have too much class for him, but at times he’ll have to dig in and show a champion’s quality.”
McDonnell’s preparations for the fight have included sparring with Nottingham super-bantamweight, Rendell Munroe.
McDonnell said: “Although we weren’t knocking blocks off each other I was more than holding my own with him. Rendall fought for the WBC title against the number one in the world over in Japan so he’s at the top level and has world title experience.
“That’s where I want to be after I’ve beaten Hall. Hopefully I’ll have another fight later this year then we’ll be pushing for an interim or world title shot.”
The weigh in will take place at the Keepmoat Stadium at 3 o’clock tomorrow (Friday).
n Meanwhile Mexborough’s Stuart Brookes has announced he is set to make his return to the ring in November after three years out of the sport following the death of his brother Scott - see page 92 for more.