DAVE BIRMINGHAM took a major step up the professional ladder with his latest win.
The former Pompey man continued his development in the boxing world as he grabbed a fifth success in the paid ranks against Slovakian Ivan Godor.
The journeyman pushed Birmingham hard over six rounds before the 36-year-old picked up a points verdict.
The lightweight was cheered on by a raucous travelling crowd as the Pompey chimes rang out in Southampton Guildhall on his entry.
Birmingham started strongly and went for broke after making early in-roads.
Godor stood firm, however, and went on to ask questions of his opponent in what developed into a decent scrap.
With Birmingham having his first professional contest just last year, trainer Michael Ballingall feels the contest helped his education hugely.
Ballingall said: ‘Most of the people you could hear were from Pompey at the show!
‘Dave was in a tough, hard fight.
‘Dave caught him in the second and started unloading bombs on him.
‘The lad was experienced and used to taking shots.
‘But Dave wanted to get him out of there and that made the fight harder.
‘The later rounds became a real, tough scrap.
‘He showed a lot of grit and determination to come through it.
‘So Dave has picked up a lot of experience from it and, hopefully, that will move him on to other things.
‘We want to see him in a title fight by the end of the year now.’
Meanwhile, Lucas Ballingall extended his unbeaten record to seven fights against Georgian Tornike Tortladze.
The Portsmouth featherweight got his second stoppage win as Tortladze was taken out in four rounds.
The hope was the 20-year-old would be pushed the distance as he continues his progress.
And trainer and father, Ballingall Snr, knows he has to be careful about when he steps up the challenges for the classy operator.
He said: ‘Lucas decided to box his opponent and feel him out.
‘Tortladze was walking through a lot of the shots and just shaking his head.
‘In the third, though, Lucas caught him and he held on.
‘Lucas saw the weakness there and started using the jab to set up the body shots.
‘Then he caught him with a hook in the fourth, which sent him back and Lucas got him with an upper-cut coming in.
‘Again, he’s not gone past the six rounds we needed. So we are going to have try to step it up a bit more.
‘His quality is there and I feel he needs a proper, hard test. There’s talent but we can’t get too carried away yet.’