We couldn't ask for a better start to the new season on Sky Sports than Jamie McDonnell against Stuey Hall.
This is a fight we have been talking about for months, the British, Commonwealth and European titles are on the line and I don't see how it is going to be anything but an absolute belter.
Sometimes when two evenly-matched and exciting fighters come together, one of them disappoints and we don't get the fight we are all expecting, but with these two we know exactly what's coming. They are going to collide head-on, a lot of this will be fought at close range and neither will take a step back.
McDonnell is a fighter who likes to set a tremendous pace and although is perhaps the untidier of the two, he has proved himself at European level and he has proved he can dig in over the 12 rounds and find a way to win.
The fight we saw against Stephane Jamoye at the start of the year proved that; it looked to be slipping away from him and going horribly wrong but somehow he came through. As I say, he likes to fight at a pace, but he can also raise it - which he might have to do here.
Sometimes when two evenly-matched and exciting fighters come together, one of them disappoints and we don't get the fight we are all expecting, but with McDonnell and Hall, we know exactly what's coming. They are going to collide head-on, a lot of this will be fought at close range and neither will take a step back.
Quotes of the week
Jamie McDonnell v Stuey Hall
European, C'Wealth & British Bantamweight titles
8.00pm, Sat, Sky Sports HD1
But while he has proved himself at European level, his performances so far haven't really hinted at world class for me. He can be a little bit reckless as well, which is something I am sure Hall will be well aware of.
Hall is a fighter I have admired ever since he turned pro three years ago - very late at the age of 28. He is a compact fighter, very tight defensively, he picks his punches nicely and is just a solid all-round performer. There is no doubt though, that this is his toughest fight so far.
I expect his plan will be to keep the chin tucked down and try and draw McDonnell on and see if he can make his accuracy count. Neither is going change their style, they are going to rely on what got them this far and that can only be good for us.
Hall might just be the harder puncher and has stopped four in a row. But of those, both Martin Power and Ian Napa have been great little servants to the game but were past their best, so I wouldn't read too much into those.
But he might just have the psychological edge going into this one. I don't buy into all that nonsense about McDonnell being scared, because no fighter is scared of fighting anyone, but he is the one who doesn't really have much to gain. He is putting his European and Commonwealth titles on the line and can of course add the British, but he gave that belt up some 18 months ago.
It's hard being the champion and taking on a guy who has been sneaking up behind you, even harder when you know even if you do win, it probably won't make the world sit up and take notice. That's why Hall has been making all the noises, that's why he wanted this fight so badly: he is a man in a hurry and he has it all to gain.
This is such a close call between the best two fighters in the bantamweight division and is the sort of fight we just wouldn't have seen a few years ago. I know we at Sky Sports are trying to put these fights together and you have to give Frank Maloney and the other leading promoters their dues, because they are starting to make 50-50 matches again.
What that does though, is make it harder for me to pick a winner! Like I say, I wouldn't be surprised if this went either way but even though I like Hall and the skills he possesses, I have am going to edge towards McDonnell. He might need to dig deep again and he might need all that 12-round experience, but I can see sheer volume of punches - if nothing else - and a narrow points win.
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Ray Doyle says...
jamie mcdonnels engine will proove too much for stuey hall in the latter stages hall has never boxed anyone who will hit him back as much as mcdonnell an his engine will proove too much mcdonnel stoppage in either 9 10 or 11
Posted 19:50 2nd September 2011
Jamie Mitchell says...
I'm with you Jim. Although Hall looks the superior technician, his level of competition hasn't been that of McDonnell's. I don't think either of these guys could live with the elite bantamweights, so hopefully this fight is competitive, and produces enough fireworks to have them get it on again.
Posted 15:41 2nd September 2011
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