Starlet out to spark boxing scene to life
LUCAS BALLINGALL is determined to be the man to reignite Portsmouth boxing.
The featherweight prospect takes his fifth professional step in his home city today.
And Ballingall has spoken of his desire to restore the glory days to the sport around these parts.
The 19-year-old meets Georgia’s durable Mikheil Soloninkini at Liquid nightclub.
The golden period in recent memory belongs to Tony Oakey, who stormed to a series of titles in a decorated career.
Oakey has been a vocal supporter of Ballingall and his potential.
The 4-0 man is out to show he is capable of matching his billing.
Ballingall said: ‘We’ve not really had anyone since Tony Oakey.
‘Floyd Moore’s done well, has a big following and has won the Southern Area title twice.
‘But I believe I can go a long way.
‘I feel I’m good enough to win the British title and go beyond.
‘I’m still 19 and I’ve got the ability.
‘I do believe I can go all the way to the top.
‘It’s all coming together.
‘I’ve been given an opportunity with some good sponsors backing me.
‘I’d love to put Pompey back on the map and bring the big shows here.
‘Tony’s always been close with me and my dad. I’ve known him my whole life. He doesn’t talk rubbish and tells the truth.
‘He believes I’ll go a long way and that means a lot.’
Ballingall believes this afternoon’s show gives the new wave of Portsmouth boxers a platform to showcase their talents.
The likes of Joel McIntyre, Biola Kudus, Dave Birmingham, Ricky Little and Southampton’s fighting fireman Charlie Quinn are in action.
Ballingall believes there could be some exciting days ahead for them.
He said: ‘We’re getting the fighters now. There’s a few of us doing well.
‘There’s me, my brother Mikey, Josh Pritchard, Joel McIntyre, Biola and the rest.
‘Maybe in the future we can get some good events, maybe even fighting at Fratton Park.
‘That would be some experience.’
Ballingall has been allowed to prepare full-time for this afternoon’s bout for the first time in his career.
That’s allowed him to receive top-drawer sparring against some of the fight game’s biggest names.
He said: ‘This is the first time I’ve been full-time for a fight.
‘I went away and sparred Lee Selby and Gary Buckland. You can’t get better sparring than that and I gave a good account of myself.
‘I’ve sparred Ryan Burnett and Mitchell Smith, top-level boxers.
‘Adam Booth has said I welcome at his gym anytime. That’s good to hear.
‘Because I’m so tall people think I’m a lightweight. But I’ve made featherweight and the weight is good.’