Saturday, September 10th, 2016
Lee Haskins retained his IBF Bantamweight World Title with a unanimous decision over Stuart Hall at the O2 in London.
There's no love lost between rivals Haskins and Hall following their history - Haskins defeating Hall on points in the one meeting between the pair back in 2012, although the fight never really threatened to boil over despite the bad blood between the two.
Round one was a tense affair, with neither fighter wanting to give up any ground to their opponent resulting in a quiet period with few punches landing.
It was nip and tuck again in the second with nothing to separate the fighters other than their drastically different fighting styles, Haskins with his unorthodox style, keeping his hands down throughout, Hall offering a more usual high guard.
The slow pace continued into rounds three and four, Haskins edging both, landing some cleaner shots than his Darlington-born opponent.
This pattern continued into the fith. Haskins appeared to have the edge psychologically, Hall seeming tense from the beginning, possibly letting the occasion and bad feeling between the two getting to him.
Some harsh words from Hall's corner, questioning his desire to win the fight, resulted in some increased work-rate and cleaner shots landed from the 36-year-old in the sixth. The increased pressure meant Haskins was unable to dictate the fight as he had previously, Hall's round.
Hall maintained the pressure in the seventh although some accurate counter punching from Haskins meant it was another tight round.
Haskins struggled to put together combinations in the eighth, throwing several shots off-balance, however Hall was unable to land the clean counter shots needed to trouble the Bristol boxer.
Hall was on the front foot in the ninth, driving Haskins into the corner and starting to land some clean shots to the head, the momentum really having shifted now.
The tenth round was another tight affair, the fight seemingly going down to the wire and the opinions of the judges ringside.
A tired Haskins looked ragged early on in the eleventh, Hall pushing Haskins back into the corners, another Hall round.
It all came down to the final round, the title there for the taking for either man.
Hall came out like a man possessed, really letting the shots go as he moved forward, but Haskins continued to land some cute counter shots - the fight ending with an embrace between the bitter rivals.
It was now a question of the judges scorecards, had Hall left it too little too late or had the judges been impressed with his comeback in the second-half of the fight?
Boos ran out around the arena as the decision was announced, the fight seemingly closer than the judges scorecards (115-113, 117-111, 116-112 all to Haskins), Haskins won't have minded though, successfully defending his title for the second time.
The Bristol boxer's focus will now switch to the possibility of an all-British unification fight with WBA World Champion Jamie McDonnell.