Michael McKinson has spent months waiting for his phone to ring. On Wednesday, the welterweight contender got a nice surprise. Suddenly, he was inundated with notifications as people tagged him into a BoxingScene.com article in which the world ranked David Avanesyan all but agreed to take him on in a crossroads fight.
“I don’t care. I accept any fight that a fair offer is made for, full stop. What excites me about McKinson is he has shouted me out, he wants it and that has been a rare thing in the UK these last few years” Avanesyan said in this interview with BoxingScene.
It was the news McKinson (25-1, 4 KO’s) has been praying for. The 29 year old has been waiting for a high profile opportunity since getting stopped in nine rounds by Vergil Ortiz last August. McKinson performed well but rather than opening doors, his performance resulted in them being slammed shut.
McKinson has stayed busy and notched up three victories since the defeat to Ortiz but they have made next to no impact on the world scene. Aware that he needed to make something happen, McKinson took it upon himself to pick a fight with former WBA and European champion, Avanesyan (29-4-1, 17 KO’s), a man who knows a thing or two about being avoided himself.
“Last year I went to America twice. I boxed Vergil Ortiz and although I lost, I gave a good account of myself. Since then, the level of opposition I’ve faced, well, I haven’t really wanted to be in the ring with them,” McKinson told BoxingScene.
“I deserve to be in the ring with the likes of Avanesyan. After my last fight I respectfully called him out. I know a lot of people aren’t queuing up to fight David - as well as myself - so I feel like if we can get it on it shows to the rest of the British fighters that we’re real men.
"There are lot that want to steer clear of us and a lot that want to be wrapped in bubble wrap but we have to do it the hard way so it’ll be a good fight to make.”
McKinson and Avanesyan may be polar opposites in terms of the way they go about their business inside the ring but outside of it, they are kindred spirts. Both have had to bite, scratch and fight for opportunities and both have spent a good proportion of their careers in the away corner. McKinson lost to Ortiz in Texas whilst Avanesyan was stopped by undisputed welterweight champion, Terence Crawford, last December. Both still have aspirations of competing at the highest level and both are finding it nigh on impossible to nail down a big name. It seems like the ideal time for them to meet.
“Where does he go now? He lost to Crawford and I lost to Ortiz. My phone isn’t ringing. I showed the world who I am but I’ve always been in a position where I’ve had to fight for peoples respect and love so what better way to do it than to call out such a feared, respected opponent like David Avanesyan,” McKinson said.
“I’ll probably get a lot of praise and credit for calling him out but I don’t want that. I want praise and credit if the fight gets made and once I beat him, which I’m very confident I will.
“He’s a very dangerous fighter. He’s very feared fighter but it’s not so much what I think of these fighters, it’s what I believe I can do. I believe I’m better than domestic level, 100%. There’s a reason nobody is calling either of us out.
“I don’t think there’s anybody like me. I think that’s in my favor when they [opponents] try and find sparring. They can find all the southpaws in the world or all of the slick movers in the world but that doesn’t really compare to my style. I’m a very unorthodox fighter.”
New WBO cruiserweight champion, Chris Billam-Smith, has turned turned Bournemouth into a fight town over the past 18 months and it seems inevitable that his maiden world title defense - be it a rematch with former champion, Lawrence Okolie, or somebody else - will take place in his hometown before the end of the year. McKinson is from Portsmouth which is just 50 miles along the south coast and he has boxed on two Billam-Smith undercards. He would be thrilled if he is provided with a platform to take on Avanesyan before 2023 is over.
“Everybody is waiting on the Billam-Smith date. There’s a chance I might be on that card I guess because I’ve boxed on the last two. If they offer me something, great. If they offer me David Avanesyan, even better,” he said.
“I’ve been on the road and I’ve had to earn respect the hard way. Ok, Avanesyan has said he’ll come to the south coast. Great. I’ve had it hard in my career though. I’ve been given no handouts. I’ve had to take opportunities where people didn’t believe I was gonna win. People will have me as the underdog versus David Avanesyan. They won’t believe I’ll beat him, but I’m obsessed with proving people wrong.”