Hall captures IBF title
Stuart Hall (16-2-1) won the vacant IBF world bantamweight title after recording a unanimous decision victory over Vusi Malinga (21-5-1) on Saturday night in Leeds.
The 33-yard-old from Darlington dominated his South African opponent at the start of the contest and scored a knockdown in the third round before having to survive some heavy shots in the latter part of the fight.
His left eye swollen completely shut through the final four rounds, Hall took the bout 116-111 and 117-110 twice on the three judges' cards after a thrilling, action-packed war.
In sealing his historic triumph the 33-year-old became the first north-east boxer to win a recognised version of a world title since Glenn McCrory won the IBF cruiserweight title in Durham in 1989.
Hall lost a British title fight against former IBF champion Jamie McDonnell in September 2011 but showed no signs of being overawed by the occasion as he got to work cleanly in the early stages
Hall swarmed all over Malinga at the start of the second then landed a looping two-punch combination as the South African, edging forward behind a weak left jab, showed little inclination to get involved.
Hall had clearly claimed the early advantage and he emphatically built on that in the third when a crunching right to the jaw dumped Malinga backwards onto the canvas before he clambered up with the count at eight.
Malinga survived and had a little more success in the fourth and fifth, a swinging right temporarily halting the Darlington man in his tracks, but the neat, focused Hall responded superbly with a right of his own.
Puffed up beneath the left eye, Hall did show the first signs of tiring through a busy sixth, and he shipped a lot more clean shots in the seventh but continued to ride them well and fire back.
As the fight wore on Hall was walking into more shots and the damage around his eye worsened significantly in the ninth.
But brave Hall saw the fight out by trading blows to the end and was a clear winner when the final bell sounded.
Hall said: "It feels unbelievable. I knocked him down but he came back at me. They're so much tougher at this level.
"I couldn't see anything out of my left eye for the final few rounds but I kept my focus and I always knew I was in front."