Chris Billam-Smith’s WBO cruiserweight title defense against Mateusz Masternak will headline tonight’s Sunday night show in Bournemouth but there were six fights on the undercard before the world title action.
The majority of Billam-Smith’s supporters are also fans of AFC Bournemouth and with many of those having made the long trip north to Manchester on the Saturday, the decision was made to move his maiden world title defence to a Sunday night.
Those fans justified the decision by snapping up the tickets and will pack out the Bournemouth International Centre later on this evening and the action got underway with welterweight title action.
Michael McKinson has been crying out for an opportunity to impress. There were rumors that McKinson would lock horns with the dangerous David Avanesyan on this card but instead, McKinson boxed Ghana’s Musah Lawson for the WBC International silver welterweight title.
The tall Lawson came with a reputation of being a puncher and took the center of the ring. McKinson will happily assume the role of counter puncher and he quickly found his groove, clipping Lawson with his southpaw right hooks before slipping away to the side. Although he swung away whenever McKinson stepped into range, Lawson barely used his jab had no idea how to land his own punches when McKinson used his feet.
McKinson began to lead in the second, poking away with his jab and that lead right hook but he began to do most damage with his left hand to the body. One particular straight left hand to the mid-section seemed to hurt Lawson and the Ghanian’s output dropped significantly. McKinson isn’t a particularly heavy handed fighter but - in centre ring - Lawson was extremely wary of McKinson’s accurate counter shots.
He enjoyed more success when he backed into the ropes. McKinson would stand in front of him for a split second longer and Lawson was able to find short counter shots but when McKinson chose to put distance between the two, he had a much easier time of things. He would land lead left hands, step in close and cut an angle to escape safely. Lawson tried to let his hands go but although McKinson wasn’t hurting him, his frustration was clear to see.
McKinson may have wanted to put on a show but as the fight moved into its second half, he seemed to accept that his route to a straightforward victory lay in movement. McKinson invited Lawson to come forward, inched backwards and looked to land lead left hands and right hooks but skirting out to the side. McKinson’s only issues came when he pushed Lawson to the ropes and stayed in front of him. McKinson dug in hooks to the body, stayed low and stepped around the Ghanaian but occasionally allowed his head to stay on the centre line and gave Lawson the chance to land his own counters.
Lawson looked disheartened but never gave up. His reputed power never came into play and he just lacked the boxing skills to figure out a way of pinning McKinson down.
McKinson stayed safe in the tenth round. He boxed, moved, picked his punches cleverly and never allowed Lawson to set his feet. The result was a formality and the scorecards were wide, one card of 99-91 and two of 100-90 in favor of McKinson (26-1, 4 KOs). Lawson (11-1, 9 KO’s) suffers his first defeat.