By former Southern Area Light Heavyweight Champion/ Team Southpaw Jab member Chris Hobbs
If you’re from one of the big boxing cities, many of the upcoming boxers are known prospects- given plenty of exposure. But if you are from areas not as well known it’s a lot harder to know your local heroes. However there are some smaller area prospects that a lot of people know and are beginning to get excited about. One of them is Portsmouth’s Lucas Ballingall (12-0, 3KOS) who fights for the Southern Area title against champion Jeff Ofori (9-0, 3KOS) on 29th June.
The fight goes down in Portsmouth- an area that in the early 2000s was buzzing with the sound of the Oakey Kokey thanks to former British Title holder Tony Oakey. More recently former Southern Area champion Floyd Moore brought excitement to the area. But right now there are a few boxers on the cusp of setting the south coast back alight; the likes of WBC youth champion Mikey Mckinson, Garry Neale and also, Lucas Ballingall are all set to step up.
Portsmouth boxing looks bright if these fighters can gather the right support and some future TV backing.
I caught up with Lucas to see how preparation has been going for his big title shot.
Chris Hobbs – When did you start Boxing? And what made you choose this sport?
Lucas Ballingall – I’ve been in the gym most my life through my dad (Manager/ promoter Michael Ballingall), starting at age 10.
CH – What’s the rivalry between your brother (Mikey McKinson (16-0)) like are you competing to see who can pick up most titles? What is it like training with you your family?
LB– It’s only healthy competition, we both want each other to achieve as much as possible, we are a good team and it works well for me.
CH – So who makes up your team? You seem to have a close family unit.
LB – My team is made up of my dad as trainer/ manager, Gav Jones who helps with my roadwork and in my corner, Leon Taylor who is my strength and conditioning coach and Gregg Allison who is my nutritionist.
CH -What do you do in your spare time when not boxing?
LB – I love going to the cinema, I’ll literally watch anything on the big screen.
CH – What has been your toughest fight?
LB – Probably Karl Kelly in Belfast, he never took a step backwards. (Lucas won 60-57 over six rounds)
CH – Who are your boxing heroes? Who do you look up to in the boxing world?
LB – Hard to pick a favourite but one currently is Lee Selby, he started from small hall shows and worked his way to a world title. Very slick fighter and I have shared many rounds with him [in the gym].
CH – How’s preparation for your title shot going, how are you feeling, who have you been sparring with?
LB – I feel great, camp’s been amazing and I’ve been getting some tough rounds in with top fighters over in Belfast.
CH -What do you want to achieve in boxing?
LB – I will take one step at a time, but I believe I can get to at least a British Title.
CH – You were due to fight before for the Southern Area Title before but got injured, is that true?
LB – I have been scheduled to box for two titles and both didn’t happen through injury. It just makes me hungrier to get that belt.
CH – What do you think of your opponent Jeff Ofori? How do you rate him?
LB – Don’t know much about him other than him being an undefeated champion who is in my way.
CH – What can fans coming to Portsmouth expect to see on 29th June?
LB – An entertaining title fight, and me walking out as champion.
The south coast could well have a new champion very soon, but 22 year old Lucas has the tough job of getting past Jeff Ofori, a proud champion who will fight hard to keep his title he won against Jumanne Camero last October with a points win. Ofori had a keep warm fight back in Feb where he picked up a points win over Jordan Ellison, he’ll be raring to go to defend his title.
Featuring local fighters, the show looks to be an exciting one. Former professional footballer Dave Birmingham faces former Southern Area champion Jamie Speight, and Mwenga Chisanga versus Carl Turney is a local derby fight with both fighters being from Chichester- boxing for local pride and bragging rights. Also Jack Hanney from Dublin keeps warm before getting his certainly due Irish Title shot.
I recommend you head down to the Havant Leisure Centre to support local talent, support small hall boxing and witness these boxers as they make the journey to the next level and help build south coast boxing. The more support the bigger the shows along the south coast will grow.
Get in touch with Lucas for tickets (£40 standard and £80 ringside) through his social media: Twitter – @ballingalllucas / Instagram – @lucasballingall1 / Snapchat – ballingalllucas
Lucas finished with thanking his sponsor Countrywide Gas services.