Lucas Ballingall reckons he’s the undisputed world champion – of sparring!
The 22-year-old gets home advantage when he challenges Jeffrey Ofori for the Southern Area lightweight championship at Havant Leisure Centre on June 29.
Both go into the scheduled 10 rounder unbeaten, but those stats don’t reveal the priceless experience Ballingall has picked up in the gym.
He said: ‘I’ve done loads of rounds with Lee Selby, Anthony Crolla and James Tennyson – and I always hold my own and get invited back.
‘The sharpest I’ve been in the ring with is Lee Selby and James Tennyson is a massive puncher. People don’t just avoid fighting him, they avoid sparring him as well.
‘He knocks his sparring partners out. He doesn’t knock me out!
‘I know I have a bit of a baby face, but I get in there, hold my own with him and they keep flying me over to Belfast for more sparring.
‘I’ve sparred all these great pros, but I haven’t had the chance to really progress as a pro yet. I’m a world champion in sparring – and now it’s time to show it in the ring.’
Ballingall was denied the chance of a possible title breakthrough in March.
He shelved plans to challenge Ofori to take on Archie Sharp for the WBO European super-featherweight title at the Royal Albert Hall in front of the BT Sport cameras.
The fight was only two or three weeks away when Sharp pulled out through injury.
Ballingall senses Sharp could have gone through with the fight – but didn’t fancy it.
He added: ‘I’m not saying he wasn’t injured, but I wonder how bad it was. I had a feeling Archie would pull out.
‘He thought I was a ticket seller with an inflated record who he could just knock over.
‘I was hearing from people in boxing that I had a great chance of beating him. I think he heard the same and that’s why he pulled out.
‘I don’t think he fancied taking the risk.
'I don’t think the fight will happen now. I think he’s afraid to lose.’
by MATT BOZEAT