Title chance for Pompey ace '“ aged just 19
LUCAS BALLINGALL has seized his chance to pick up his first title '“ at the age of just 19.
Ballingall will take on seasoned campaigner Jamie Speight for the Southern Area title on October 22.
But the silky Portsmouth operator will go on the road for his opportunity, with the clash set to take place in Torquay.
It’s a huge chance for the 5-0 man, arriving after he took his first professional steps just last year.
His father and trainer, Michael, admitted it’s a calculated gamble for the featherweight talent.
But he feels it’s one his son is able to take in his stride – and travelling to do so is not something which is going to concern him.
Ballingall Snr said: ‘This is a big chance for Lucas.
‘If he has to go away, that’s fine. Whether it’s on his own turf or not doesn’t bother him.
‘Some people may see it as a one-sided affair but Lucas has to be tested.
‘It’s a gamble, but if Lucas fights and loses he’s really lost nothing and gained from the experience.
‘And there’s no doubt at all that he can rise to the occasion.
‘He shows his talent in sparring all of the time.
‘We aren’t stupid and realise it’s totally different on the night.
‘But his strength is developing and he’s a different animal to two years ago.
‘His main strength is now coming through and he’s got his head in the right place.
‘People say he’s 19, but Mike Tyson was fighting for a world title at 20. This is for a Southern Area title.
‘It’s a huge opportunity.’
Ballingall has a tune-up fight scheduled for September in Bournemouth.
The former Moneyfields talent has also been gearing up for a busy period with sparring with world champ Anthony Crolla ahead of his clash with Jorge Linares on September 24.
He’s also spent time sparring with featherweight world champ Lee Selby, who regards Ballingall highly.
Despite his potential, the attention of big promoters has eluded the talent – leading him to having to take an early chance with Speight.
Ballingall Snr added: ‘He’s been around big names and nothing bothers him.
‘If you aren’t on TV and haven’t won ABA titles or boxed for England people aren’t interested.
‘People fly under the radar and there’s a lot of untapped talent like Lucas.
‘But that is why we are having to fight Jamie Speight now in his home town.
‘He’s in the best condition for a long time. But Jamie Speight is a big, strong opponent with lots of guts who digs deep and is very, very fit.
‘This is an opportunity Lucas couldn’t turn down, though, and he’s going to be at his very, very best.’