Hall, Austin to return to the ring on Saturday

Jeff Birchfield • Jun 25, 2018 at 6:54 PM

Johnson City boxers Robert Hall Jr. and Brad Austin will make their returns to the ring Saturday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, in a fight card promoted by former  women’s world champion Christy Martin.

In a pair of cruiserweight bouts, Hall will face James K. Jones, a veteran out of West Virginia now living in Nashville. Austin will take on Marcos Escudero, an Argentinian fighter who now resides in West Palm Beach.

For the 26-year-old Hall, it’s about getting back on track after losing by a ninth-round TKO last November against top contender Imre Szello in Hungary.

“You have to mentally refocus, go back to the drawing board and see the mistakes you made,” Hall said. “This is a great opportunity to fix those mistakes and see how I’ve progressed with some changes we’ve made.”

Studying the tape from the last fight, Hall (11-1) looked at how consistent Szello, currently ranked No. 4 in the world by the WBO and No. 10 by the IBF, was throughout the contest. While Hall is used to the fast pace from an American fighting style, he saw Szello, a two-time Olympian from Hungary, slow the fight down and dictate the pace.

“He was the better man that night,” Hall said. “But, what you’ve got to do is when you get knocked down you get back up. I’m feeling great and am ready to go.”

Prior to his last fight, Hall simply outclassed most of his competition. Even Dimar Ortuz, a fighter trained by multi-time world champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley, wasn’t able to keep up with Hall, who defeated him by unanimous decision in December 2016 to win the WBC United States Cruiserweight title.

Austin, the 41-year-old veteran with 40 professional fights, has served as Hall’s sparring partner. While Hall won’t join the ranks of a Floyd Mayweather or Rocky Marciano of getting through the fight game undefeated, Austin believes the loss has made him a better overall boxer.

“That loss opened his eyes,” Austin said. “A loss will motivate you, make you realize what you could have done. More than anything, it helps you grow as a person. Life is like boxing, and that loss has helped motivate him to where he’s at right now. He will take that, learn from that and he will be a champion.”

Austin (13-27) has his own tough challenge ahead with Escudero, who at 23 years old has faced plenty of tough international competition through events like the World Boxing Championships. Escudero, 3-0 as a professional, has fast hands and throws a lot of punches.

Hall is a clear favorite against Jones, but doesn’t take the southpaw for granted. Austin believes the improvement shown by Hall since getting back in the gym, will lead to a one-sided outcome.

“He’s made tremendous improvement since the loss,” Austin said. “He’s being patient and controlling the action with the jab. When we spar, it’s frustrating, because his jab is like a hard right hand. He can stop you with his jab. He’s working more on his skill, and he’s hungry and determined. With the way he’s worked, he deserves the best.”

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