Stuart Hall took the vacant IBF bantamweight title early Sunday, unanimously outpointing Vusi Malinga of South Africa.
With his left eye swollen completely shut through the final four rounds, Hall received winning scores of 116-111, 117-110 and 117-110. He floored Malinga in the third round.
The 33-year-old Hall took up boxing at age 28 after spending five years on a drink and drug-fuelled binge in Ibiza.
”It feels unbelievable,” Hall said. ”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.”