‘Must win’: Stakes high for Portsmouth favourite in Sky Sports title action today

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Pompey's boxing favourite has a lot to fight for when he boxes a the Bournemouth International Centre today on the Chris Billam-Smith v Mateusz Masternak WBO world cruiserweight title undercard.

Michael McKinson acknowledged he’s putting everything on the line as he’s handed a dangerous title assignment.

Portsmouth’s leading boxing light takes on hard-hitting Ghanaian tough man Musah Lawson in Bournemouth today, as the stylish operator looks to end 2023 on a high.

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And the 25-1 welterweight is fully aware the stakes are high, as he goes in against an unbeaten opponent for the WBC silver international strap over 10 rounds.

Some big opportunities could be on the horizon for the 29-year-old, with talk of a showdown with massively avoided Armenian David Avanesyan next year.

So McKinson knows there’s a lot riding on the Lawson clash, which takes place on the undercard of Chris Billam-Smith’s world title defence against Mateus Masternak at the Bournemouth International Centre.

McKinson said: ‘It’s good to get out and fight before the end of the year and I feel very grateful to be on these big cards. It’s not been easy but I’ve got a good team in Joe Ashford and my dad fighting my corner to get me these opportunities.

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‘So I’m fighting on a big card, I’m staying active and it’s going to be a title fight and putting a belt around my waist will create more opportunities.

‘I’ve been up the rankings and this should help - so I’m going to make sure I bring a belt back to Portsmouth. Then there could be big fights ahead.

‘My opponent is undefeated and a big puncher. He’s a well-schooled fighter, no mug and super dangerous.

‘I’ve got to win this fight, so there’s a lot of pressure on me. There’s no point in talking about other names if I don’t perform. When I say it’s a must win, it’s a must win. This is a dangerous fight so there’s no way I’m overlooking my opponent - I’m treating him, as my hardest opponent.'

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McKinson has enjoyed some brilliant preparations for the Lawson contest, travelling to New York with his brother Lucas Ballingall for sparring at a number of venues - including the world renowned Gleason’s Gym. And making the 147lb welterweight limit has been no issue for the former Moneyfields and Heart of Portsmouth amateur.

McKinson said: ‘I’ve had a very good camp. I’ve come down in weight well and I’ve spent time out in the States sparring. That’s been so beneficial to my preparations, so there’s no excuses  - I’m ready to put on a show.’

The Chris Billam-Smith v Mateusz Masternak card is shown live on Sky Sports Arena from 6pm tonight. McKinson’s fight is expected to be shown earlier in the afternoon on the Sky Sports Boxing YouTube channel.

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