McKinson v Kongo: ‘Mikey’s heart and soul has been tested … Kongo has not been tested’

Trainer Michael Ballingall says fight fans will be afforded a real spectacle when Mikey McKinson faces Chris Kongo for the WBO Global welterweight title on Saturday.

Thursday, 25th March 2021, 12:44 pm
Michael Mckinson on his way to victory over Ryan Kelly at the Brentwood Centre in December 2019. Picture: APC Visuals

But the Portsmouth cornerman is confident of the hand that will be lifted at the end of the fight - the one belonging to his son.

The anticipation is building ahead of what promises to be an intriguing battle between the Pompey Problem and Kongo.

For both undefeated fighters, the Battle of Britain provides their toughest career tests to date.

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Father and trainer Michael Ballingall, left, with son Mikey McKinson

And the fact it's on the Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin II undercard live on Sky Sports Box Office in Gibraltar provides the ultimate platform.

But Balingall - McKinson's trainer as well as his father - insists his fighter will stretch his perfect pro record to 20-0 come Saturday night.

And he reckons the Pompey Problem's increased ring experience and tougher level of opponent throughout his career will weigh heavy on the 12-0 Bermondsey boxer.

Ballingall said: 'I know Kongo is 100 per cent ready, he’s fit, this is the best you’ll get Kongo so I’m expecting a good fight.

‘But I’m expecting only one person’s hand to be lifted at the end of the fight and it’s the one we normally have lifted.

'This is his 20th fight (Mikey’s), he’s been in six 50-50s, most of them he’s been expected to lose and he’s proved people wrong.

'Chris Kongo is a dangerous fighter, a very dangerous fighter, very tall, gets good leverage, fast hands and footwork - he was on GB - and he’s with Matchroom as well so he’s their guy.

'We’re winning the fight. When it comes down to soul-searching later in the rounds ... Mikey’s soul and heart has been tested.

‘Chris Kongo’s not been tested, the one fight he’s had which was a 50-50 was Luther Clay. No disrespect to Luther Clay, but Mikey is a totally different style of boxer.

'It’s going to be a great value fight but I’m 100 per cent confident with my guy.'

Ballingall's prediction goes against how the bookmakers are viewing the fight.

Kongo has been installed as the odds-on favourite to inflict a first pro defeat on McKinson.

However, Ballingall says being the underdog is nothing new for the Pompey Problem - and that's just the way he likes it.

The Portsmouth trainer said: ‘The bookies have him (Kongo) as the favourite but that’s what we want. If we were coming as the favourite then it wouldn’t be right, because we wouldn’t be used to it.

‘Everytime Mikey comes in as the underdog it makes him perform a lot better with that mindset.

‘We’re coming in quiet and he’s going to do the business.

‘At the end of the day, we all appreciate and I thank everyone that’s put time and invested money and invested their own time to help in all different departments for Mikey.

‘But eventually, it’s only him that’s getting in the ring.

‘We’re all doing our bit to prepare him, he’s so confident it’s unbelievable.'