By Greg Gulas
During a rather inauspicious scholastic football career, Marco Hall was a valuable special teams player and position backup for coach Thom McDaniels’ Warren Harding Raiders.
After three years of watching Hall’s dedication to football and witnessing his exemplary workout regimen, McDaniels said it comes as no surprise that his former student is now making a name for himself in boxing.
For the second time in three weeks a representative of the Mahoning Valley will be featured on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights” when Hall (2-0-1, 2 KOs) takes on Cody Fuller (0-1) in a clash between junior lightweights at Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla.
He joins Daniel Martz, of South Side Boxing Club, who scored a six-round majority decision over Jonathan Hamm of Los Angeles on the network’s July 19 card.
McDaniels said he plans to watch the fight.
“When Marco played for me he was lightning quick and as tough as nails,” McDaniels said. “He wasn’t a starter, instead a backup that was used at wide receiver and defensive back, but he remained a player who gave it his all whenever he was on the field.
“Marco was up against it in football due to his size, but he’s still quick and fearless and those are definitely two great assets when it comes to boxing.”
After going 44-6 as an amateur, Hall scored a second-round TKO over Emil Brooks in his professional debut on July 1, 2011, at the Covelli Centre.
He followed that up with a first-round KO over John Rodriguez a little over four months later at Campbell’s St. Lucy Palermo Center, then battled Angel Figueroa to a four-round draw a little over 14 months ago at Cleveland’s La Villa Banquet Center.
Hall doesn’t feel the long layoff will matter, instead welcoming the opportunity for some much-needed exposure from his first national television audience.
Hall was originally scheduled to meet Motoharu Takeda, but Fuller replaced him on the card.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time so I aim to take advantage of it,” Hall said. “I fought Figueroa in the amateurs and felt like I won when we met as professionals, but that is all in the past and I am just looking ahead to fighting Fuller Friday night.”
Despite Fuller’s addition as a last-minute replacement, Hall said it won’t bother him because he still needs to remain smart while in the ring.
It’s a place that he has yearned to be for more than a year now.
“Being relaxed and boxing smart are the two things that I must remember,” Hall said. “Keeping my head moving and just boxing the way I know how will also be big. I didn’t know a lot about Takeda either, so my preparation has been the same for both fighters.”
Hall will enter the ring with a new trainer at his side, that being John David Jackson, a former two-time world champion who is considered one of boxing’s rising trainers.
He called Hall a boxer with talent and determination and someone who must step up his game if he expects to elevate his career.
“At age 28 and at this stage of his career, Marco must now step up a notch in order to get as many fights as possible,” Jackson said. “Without a major promoter that is going to be tough because you don’t get fights as fast as you’d like to get them. A change in opponents might just be for the better because he is in shape and ready to go.
“Marco has prepared for all styles so the time has now come to showcase his talent. In addition to a great work ethic, his jabs and combinations are also strengths.”
Highlighting the card will be Javier Fortuna (22-0, 16 KOs) of the Dominican Republic, who will take on Luis Franco (11-1, 7 KOs) of Miami in a 10-round featherweight main feature.
The co-main will pit Kermit Cintron (33-5-2, 28 KOs) of Houston against Jonathan Batista (14-1, 7 KOs) of the Dominican Republic in a 10-round welterweight matchup while Juan Carlos Abregu (35-1, 28 KOs) of Argentina takes on Puro Pairol (5-0-1) in a six-round junior welterweight clash.
MILLER TO JUDGE FIGHT TONIGHT
In related boxing news, Tom Miller of Mineral Ridge will judge tonight’s WBO bantamweight championship of the world between Paulus Ambunda of Namibia and challenger Tomoki Kameda of Japan.
The fight, Miller’s 81st world title fight and 105th title fight judged overall, will take place at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City, Philippines.