Lucas Ballingall reckons he’s the undisputed world champion – of sparring !
The 22 year old gets home advantage when challenges Jeffrey Ofori for the Southern Area lightweight championship at Havant Leisure Centre on Saturday, June 29.
Both go into the scheduled 10 rounder unbeaten, but Box Rec doesn’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.”
The only time Ballingall had any exposure beyond the small-hall circuit came when he was called in at late notice to box on the Chris Eubank jr-Renold Quinlan undercard at the O2 Arena in February, 2017.
He sold a stack of tickets – “I had loads of cash stuffed in my pockets,” he laughed – and sent his many supporters home happy by dominating hard-as-nails Harvery Hemsley in a fan-friendly four rounder that wasn’t televised .
Ballingall was denied the chance of a possible 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.
“I’m not saying he wasn’t injured,” said the Portsmouth FC whose elder brother Michael McKinson is an unbeaten welterweight, “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 and I think he heard the same and that’s why he pulled out. He heard I’m not just a ticket seller, I can fight.
“He had a top 15 ranking with the WBO and I don’t think he fancied taking the risk. I think he avoided me because he didn’t have anything to gain fighting me.
“I am a lightweight really, but I would have got down to 9st 4lbs and punched him around the ring. I don’t think the fight will happen now. I think he’s afraid to lose.”
That disappointment led to Ballingall’s father and trainer Michael taking the plunge and becoming a promoter.
Bally’s Promotions stage the show in Havant that also features local ticket-sellers Garry Neale and David Birmingham and tickets are available from 07719 098242