LUCAS BALLINGALL showed his ease on the big stage as he kick-started 2017.
The Portsmouth featherweight cruised to a 40-34 points win over experienced journeyman Harvey Hemsley in London.
Ballingall took his chance to shine on the undercard to Chris Eubank Jr’s contest with Renold Quinlan on Saturday night.
A host of huge names were ringside for the match-up, including heavyweight great Lennox Lewis.
They saw Ballingall dominate and hurt his sturdy rival a number of times across the four rounds.
Lewis was won over by the slick talent’s display as the 20-year-old’s stock continues to rise.
Ballingall’s father and trainer, Michael, feels his charge has proved he’s comfortable under the bright lights.
He said ‘Lucas took his chance.
‘He showcased all of the weapons in his arsenal.
‘Helmsley was hurt in there. Everyone could see that.
‘Lucas was producing the flashy uppercuts, his jab was beautiful and his defence and footwork was spot on.
‘Helmsley keeps coming forward, so the plans was to use angles and footwork.
‘Lucas did that brilliantly, and, if I’d got him to plant his feet more I think he would have got him out of there.
‘He’s coming back from a hand injury, though, so we had to be wise.
‘Lennox Lewis was particularly impressed and made a point of shaking his hand after. He said he’s a real talented lad.
‘So people are beginning to sit up and take notice of him now.
‘Nothing fazes Lucas. He didn’t freeze and performed like he did in sparring.
‘He’s made for the big stage. He loves the razzamatazz and is comfortable there. It’s made for him.’
The victory gives Ballingall some momentum after a difficult end to last year, with a hand injury ruling him out of a Southern Area title showdown with Jamie Speight in September.
The plan is to now move the former Moneyfields man towards an eight rounder, with the hope for TV exposure as ITV return to the boxing market.
A step up to the super-featherweight division could also be on the cards in the coming months.
Ballingall Snr said: ‘He’s getting bigger so we’ll see what happens moving forward.
‘We need to get a tough eight rounder for him next.
‘Then we’ll probably look towards moving up to super-featherweight.
‘ITV are looking at going big into boxing this year.
‘So there could be a big opportunity for him there moving forward.
‘We need to keep him active, so we could get him out in Portsmouth as well.’