Michael McKinson will have the world at his foot, should he overcome Vergil Ortiz Jr on the 6th of August. But if he does pull off his life-changing mission, one thing is for certain, he won’t be taking anything for granted.
Upon meeting him last year, he was generous with his time on and off the air, reflecting a genuine desire to be personable and down to earth without showing any signs of an understandable arrogance having beaten Chris Kongo earlier in Gibraltar and earning himself a Matchroom deal in the process.
The main takeaway from his time at the fight camp hotel that summer and on zoom the following week was the profound meaning of his ‘Be Real’ tattoo, which all of his gyms got inked with.
In an age where WWE personalities in the Conor McGregor mould sell, Michael McKinson has no ego, persona or mask that he is hiding behind. He doesn’t trash-talk for the sake of gaining clout, merely states a calm confidence in his skill set and a recognition of how far he has come from the days of struggling to sell small hall tickets to being a headliner on a Dazn card against a hotly-tipped American welterweight contender.
Vergil Ortiz vs Michael McKinson
When his original date with Vergil Ortiz Jr fell through, he didn’t throw his toys out of the pram or pack his bags up in a hump and fly back to the UK. He stayed true to himself, kept alive his American debut dream and was willing to take on any replacement opponent given to him.
In an interview with Oscar Bevis, he remarked upon the fact that any step-in would be looking to claim his scalp, showing a knowingness and awareness that the mindset he had entered fight week with against Ortiz Jr had now turned the tables and he was the one being hunted.
Michael McKinson also fights in a way that befits his personality. He doesn’t try to be something he’s not. On the contrary to the brush some people paint him with, the amount of opponents he’s dropped in his recent run of fights proves he can punch, but he knows his main assets lie in his ring IQ.
Michael McKinson boxes with awkward movement and an ability to find an angle for a shot out of thin air and then disappear into said thin air to evade incoming traffic, all while maintaining a steady punch output that gives him the winning argument round after round.
All this is to say, he fights with the same authenticity to himself that is a hallmark of his strength of character. If he were to beat Vergil Ortiz Jr, world title shots, hometown headline slots and national media coverage from the non-sporting press would all come his way.
But with his ‘Be Real’ mantra both a physical and mental reminder of what has brought him his success so far, McKinson won’t let any exponential adulation, fame or success that comes his way go to his head.
By Harry Duffy