Michael McKinson didn’t get the win or even fully accomplish a secondary goal of becoming the first to go twelve full rounds with Vergil Ortiz Jr.
Still, not all was lost for the British southpaw who gained plenty of new fans in the biggest fight of his pro career. McKinson wound up going deeper than any other opponent who’d previously faced Ortiz, lasting until early in round nine in their August 6 DAZN main event was brought to a halt. Ortiz scored knockdowns late in round eight and again at the start of round nine, the latter prompting McKinson’s team to signal for the stoppage.
“I know I was losing the fight. There was never a time when I thought I was going to get stopped,” confessed McKinson during the post-fight press conference. "I thought I was going to take him to points, being the first person to end that knockout streak. I really did.
“In round eight, he caught me with a body shot. It hit my hip bone. My whole side of me, I couldn’t use that side. The ninth round, he hit me there again and that was it.”
Ortiz (19-0, 19KOs) had previously never fought beyond the eighth round, going that long in his win over Egidijus Kavaliaukas last August 14 in Frisco, Texas.
The unbeaten contender from nearby Grand Prairie needed exactly 0:28 more seconds of ring time to finish the job Saturday evening at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth. Ortiz floored McKinson (22-1, 2KOs) with a wicked body shot that produced lingering effects. The 28-year-old from Portsmouth, England beat the count but favored his hip, where he was struck again in the opening seconds of round nine. It clearly affected his mobility, as detected by father and head trainer Michael Ballingall who signaled for referee Laurence Cole to end the fight.
The eighth-round knockdown marked the first time that McKinson has been down as a pro, thus eventually leading to his first defeat. Prior to that point, he remained confident of at least hearing the final bell.
“The plan was definitely to stay long and try and take it to the late rounds where he’s never been before,” McKinson revealed. “Then I would try to get to him mentally. I only took him one round deeper than he’s ever been but I still took him the furthest out of anyone.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox