MIKEY McKINSON will take to the ring at the home of British boxing tomorrow for the toughest test of his career to date – but he wouldn’t want it any other way.
That’s a view shared by trainer and father Mike Ballingall as the 21-year-old bids to extend his perfect professional record to seven wins from seven fights against Casey Blair at the prestigious York Hall venue.
It’s the toughest test of his career so far but Mikey wouldn’t want it any other way.Mike Ballingall
Ballingall has warned his son, nicknamed The Problem that the decision to avoid ‘definite wins’ could backfire if the talented southpaw is dragged into a war in the light-middleweight contest.
But he has backed McKinson to stay cool under pressure and rise to the challenge posed by rough-and-rugged Blair in the four-round bout.
Ballingall said: ‘It’s the toughest test of his career so far but Mikey wouldn’t want it any other way.
‘He doesn’t want to have easy fights.
‘When he was in the amateurs he fought some of the best lads in the country and that is where he wants to go in the professional ranks as well.
‘He needs to have tough fights to keep him alert and be ready for the bigger picture.
‘There’s no point in looking after him too much and getting him definite wins.’
And in 36-year-old Blair, who is dropping down from middleweight for the contest, Ballingall believes McKinson has an opponent who will bring out the best in him.
‘Casey Blair is a natural middleweight and is coming down – he will obviously still weigh heavier on the night,’ said Ballingall.
‘Casey has got a rock granite chin, whatever you hit him with he won’t stop coming at you.
‘He is a proud man and is an old-school tough guy.
‘He is rough and rugged and coming to take it from Mikey 100 per cent.
‘Mikey is one of those fighters who needs to be in with a dangerous opponent to see the best of him.
‘There is no point in putting him in with negative opponents, because it just makes for a negative fight.
‘Tomorrow, it is all about education and being calm, relaxed and focus in the line of fire.
‘Mikey must be able to deal with the situation and not be dragged into a war because if he gets dragged into a war, he will come unstuck.
‘He has to use his attributes, which is his clever surgical brain.
‘He has to dissect his opponent like a surgeon and completely take him to school – that way it will make it an easy day’s work.’
McKinson has enjoyed a good training camp ahead of the fight, originally scheduled for six rounds but reduced to four following a lack of ticket sales.
And Ballingall has backed the Ballys Gym fighter to show what he is capable of on the big stage.
He added: ‘Mikey’s training has been really good – he is one of the most dedicated lads in the gym and he wants it really badly.
‘He is a very awkward and skilful fighter – clever defensively.
‘He works on angles a lot and is a very tricky lad to deal with.
‘He is a very sharp puncher as well – he is very, very talented.
‘It is disappointing that the fight has gone down to four rounds.
‘But there are plenty of tickets left for the show and a coach is leaving from Fratton Bridge, so it is still not too late for people to come along.’