Stuart Hall beats Vusi Malinga to win the IBF Bantamweight title
Stuart Hall became the oldest British fighter to win a world title at the first attempt with a unanimous points win over South Africa's Vusi Malinga.
The 33-year-old floored Malinga with a right hand in round three but took punishment late on as he claimed the vacant IBF world bantamweight title.
"I was fighting with one eye but I just tried to use the jab and dig in," said Darlington's Hall, who joins Carl Froch, Scott Quigg and Ricky Burns as British world champions. "It's one of the best nights of my life."
He added: "I won the British title and I thought that was my world title.
"But I just dug in and took my chances. I know I've got a punch and I can hurt people, but this is just a dream come true."
Hall, who now has 16 wins from 19 fights, was handed his surprise shot at the title when fellow Englishman Jamie McDonnell was stripped of the belt for failing to agree to a defence against mandatory challenger Malinga.
Before the fight, he sought advice from Glenn McCrory, north-east England's last world champion, and walked to the ring with the former IBF world cruiserweight champion.
After an even opening round, Hall flew from his stool to land a succession of blows and pin Malinga against the ropes early in the second before landing a left-hook flush on his opponent.
He maintained his energy levels early in the third and floored Malinga with a right-hand to the jaw.
The blow drew roars from the home crowd and forced an eight count, but the southpaw recovered to prevent an early stoppage.
Malinga, who has now gone the distance 18 times in his career, looked the stronger of the two through the middle rounds of the contest, landing his jab frequently and damaged the left eye of Hall.
"When he got up and came back at me, it shows he's different class," added Hall, who took the decision 117-110 on two scorecards and 116-111 on a third. "I just dug in and the crowd helped me.
"I couldn't see for the last two rounds because my eye was shut and he was targeting it. We told the referee it was okay but I couldn't see anything out of it. But I've done it and I've proved myself to all the doubters."
Hall went 12 rounds in his last two fights and showed grit to land a combination late in the 11th, as both men appeared fatigued.
His opponent, who has now lost five times in 27 fights, briefly seized the initiative with a heavy shot mid-way through the finale, but Hall boxed out the round to secure a memorable win.