MIKEY McKINSON has been challenged to show his title potential in a hastily-arranged outing.
McKinson puts his unbeaten record on the line as he takes a tricky late test against tough Welshman Jerome Samuels on Saturday.
If we can’t beat people like this, what’s the point of looking any further?Michael Ballingall
The 21-year-old goes up against Samuels in Bournemouth after the Portsmouth fight night, scheduled for last Friday, was cancelled.
It’s a match-up which will stretch McKinson six fights into his professional career.
Samuels brings a 5-6 record to the table and holds a win over Southampton’s Tommy Watson on his record.
But McKinson has big ambitions himself, and has impressed with his slick skills to date.
The Portsmouth welterweight has based himself in Belfast for part of his pro career.
He has ambitions of fighting for a Celtic title moving forward – and aspirations of mixing it at European level.
His trainer and father, Michael Ballingall, believes opposition like Samuels have to be overcome if that is to become a reality.
Ballingall said: ‘Mikey was training hard but the show went with Floyd (Moore) getting injured.
‘This fight has come up and it’s a tough one, because Samuels is not a fool.
‘The plan, if this goes well, is to get a few more fights and then see if we can sort out a Celtic title fight.
‘If we could get that on home ground that would really put him up there.
‘That would put Mikey in the top 15 in Europe.
‘It’s a difficult route to go but, with the right training and dedication, it can happen.
‘If you want to do that, these are the sort of fights you need to take, and the sort of route you need to go.
‘It’s a risky one this early in his career. But if you want to be looking at Celtic titles and going down the European route, you have to beat the likes of Jerome Samuels.
‘He’s very gutsy and has a win over Tommy Watson, who was a good amateur.
‘We know what’s in front of us, but if Mikey’s mind is in the right place he has the talent to win.
‘If we can’t beat people like this, what’s the point of looking any further?’
Meanwhile, Floyd Moore and stablemate Garry Neale could be set for Southern Area title shots later this year.
Unbeaten Neale is being lined up for a meeting with Londoner George Jupp, or a crack at the super-featherweight title if Jupp vacates for an English title shot.
And Moore, who is recovering from an ankle injury, has been given a mandatory shot at his old Southern Area lightweight title. Danny Connor and Michael Devine are names in the hat for that clash, with an English title meeting with old foe Adam Dingsdale another future possibility.
Ballingall said: ‘Garry’s mandatory for the title at super-featherweight.
‘We have to see what happens with George Jupp. He could go for the English title and that means Garry could find an opponent and put it on a Portsmouth show in September,
‘We’re waiting for Dingsdale with Floyd, too. He could fight for the English title. There’s a couple of options. Something should fall in place in the next month or so.’