Stuart Hall: Randy Caballero is in for the shock of his life
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It is d├®j├á vu for British pressure puncher Stuart Hall who bids to become a two-time titleholder this Saturday when he meets unbeaten Randy Caballero for the vacant IBF bantamweight belt in Monte Carlo.
Last December Hall emerged victorious in a violent shootout against Vusi Malinga to claim that very same IBF title, decking his man early and surviving a late round rally from the brave South African to win on points.
A jubilant Hall trained hard for his first title defense, which turned out to be an anticlimactic no-contest against the unheralded Martin Ward and then the 34 year old lost his crown to talented domestic rival Paul Butler, via split decision, in June.
“I thought I did enough to beat Butler,” said Hall, who is 16-3-2 (7 knockouts). “I gave away the first part of the fight but, when I started to get on top of him, I thought I won most of the remaining rounds. I gave him too much respect but things happen for a reason.
“Listen, I would fight Paul Butler tomorrow. I would love a rematch and it wouldn’t go six if we meet again. He’s a skillful fighter, and a good mover, but he carries no power whatsoever at 118 pounds. I should have taken that mindset into the fight and attacked him from Round 1.”
Butler vacated the IBF title to move back down to junior bantamweight and promoter Dennis Hobson lobbied hard for Hall to be given the chance to reclaim the title, against the number one contender. His perseverance was rewarded and Team Hall believe they are being seriously underestimated.
“Caballero will look at the Butler fight and think I’m an easy night’s work but he’s in for the shock of his life,” said Hall confidently. “I’ve seen footage of him but my focus is on me and what I need to do. Last time I paid too much attention to Butler’s strengths and I forgot how good I was.
“I’ve been there and done it. Caballero is unbeaten and has a lot of knockouts. So what? He’s not knocking me out and I’ll be on top of him for 12 rounds. There’s no messing about this time and I’m getting that title back.”
Despite the fact that Caballero (21-0, 13 knockouts) has the same amount of fights as Hall he has never gone the 12-round distance. The talented Californian has only been 10 rounds twice, whereas his opponent has gone the championship route on six occasions.
“Of course that gives me a big advantage,” said Hall, who is a former British and Commonwealth champion. “When I boxed Sergio Perales, he pulled away on the cards and I needed the last four rounds to win. I felt him fading in the championship rounds, whereas I was still strong and attacking.
“I’ll be taking Caballero to places he’s never been before.”
The odds makers seem to think that Hall is all out of bullets on this occasion and have installed Caballero, who is 10 years his junior, as a 3/1 favorite. Accustomed to being the underdog, the crafty veteran remains undeterred.
Hall said, “Butler was 3/1 on and, if you look at that fight, those odds were completely wrong. I’m a different fighter now and I’ve been away from my family for the past six weeks. My little girl has been in tears because I’ve been away from home and Caballero will pay for it.
“I’m with new trainers, Paddy Lynch and Max McCracken, sparring has been second to none and everything has gone perfectly.”
Hall isn’t the type to let odds or a younger flashier opponent dissuade him. He retains real confidence and his goal of becoming a two time world champion has him training like a man possessed.
“I’ve paid the price and this victory will mean everything to me,” said Hall, with conviction. “Sure, there are people who will write me off but I’m as hard as nails and Caballero will see that come fight night.
“I’m looking forward to arriving in Monaco and I’ll have a lot more fan support than him. Despite the fact that we’re not in England it will feel like a hostile crowd because my fans will be beyond loud.”
When pushed for a prediction on Saturday’s bout Hall paused briefly to envisage the battle which lies ahead.
“I think Caballero will be sharp at the start because he’s young and fresh,” said Hall, hinting that he may have to come from behind. “My plan is to stay on top of him and wear him down. He’s never been twelve rounds and who has he beat? He has an unbeaten record but records are for DJs and I’m going to put it on him for 12 rounds.
“This will be a great fight.”
UK fans can see Hall vs. Caballero LIVE on Channel 5. The show also features Martin Murray vs. Domenico Spada.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing