Chris Kongo: “I’m taking on someone they say people are avoiding, but I’m the most avoided in the division.”
By Joe Alexander
On Saturday 6th March, Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte will return to boxing’s centre stage.
Habitual to Matchroom events, the opening encounter is a competitive, domestic clash between Chris Kongo and Michael McKinson. A compelling attraction, enhanced by the loss of someone’s unbeaten record. Unyielding at the prospect of another arduous night’s work, the eagerly anticipated Chris ‘2Slick’ Kongo prepares his next ascent.
2020 was a year like no other we’ve experienced, a year of unaccustomed realities. The August warmth provided a suitable climate to cultivate an outdoor arena at Matchroom HQ.
In the converted Brentwood garden, Chris Kongo earnt a stoppage victory over the resilient Luther Clay. In front of the gaze of a substantial viewership generated by Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin 1, Kongo eradicated any lingering ring rust developed from over a year of inactivity:
“It went well, not my best but I had been out for a long time. It didn’t matter how I won or how close it was. It was all about getting back in there and getting the win, nothing else. I had been training and sparring but it’s completely different being in the ring in a proper fight, so I was pretty happy with it. Yes I could have done things differently, but I got back into it and got the job done.”
For everyone involved, the bubble and Brentwood garden provided a unique experience. Benefiting from this, Kongo was able to procure insight and positivity from other isolated stakeholders. Whilst the newfound outdoor arena and the sizable event provided little distraction:
“In the bubble, I was able to talk to some of the ex-fighters who were also in the bubble. A lot of them encouraged me and told me to make sure I took the opportunity.
“Fighting outside didn’t feel strange to me, it’s still just a boxing ring. As long as there’s a boxing ring, it doesn’t matter where it is. Give me a ring and a fight and I’m comfortable, I’m always up for a fight.”
2Slick believed the reward of a WBO ranking title outweighed the hazardous threat posed by Luther Clay:
“It would’ve been easy to come back with a lesser fight, but I wanted to get out in a good, competitive fight. A fight that I knew I’d need to push and work hard to win. The belt was good to win as it meant the fight had importance and got me a ranking in the WBO, which is important too.”
The recent announcement of Matchroom’s upcoming schedule sparked exuberant conversation amongst fans and experts alike. Yet a further announcement of Chris Kongo vs Michael McKinson appeared to generate an anticipation level equal to any other fight announced:
“It’s a good feeling that there is a lot of talk about this fight and people wanting to see it. I’m taking on someone they say people are avoiding, but I’m the most avoided in the division. Where we’re both at, it makes sense for both of us, we have to get it on. All I know is it will be me coming out with the win, that’s all, but we’ll wait for the night itself.”
Perceivably, the authentic personal assurance emitted by Kongo is the product of inner confidence vindicated by the adage; practice makes perfect:
“I’ve been working on specific things for this opponent. I’m confident, everything has been going well in training. This fight won’t last, it won’t go the distance.
“He’s a good fighter, he’s a southpaw and his style is awkward. Not many want to fight that sort of combination – not me, I don’t mind at all. I’ve fought a lot of southpaws in my time. On 4 or 5 occasions in different camps, I’ve sparred the best in Josh Taylor. There’s no better experience than a unified champion, who I have no doubt will soon be undisputed champion.”
In March, it will be Kongo’s second successive appearance on a pay-per-view card. Presumably, increasing attention would exacerbate pressure levels, but 2Slick doesn’t believe so, deeming it an earnt facet of progressive success:
“These sorts of opportunities are big. It’s good to be on these big pay-per-view cards. A lot of people will be watching, all over the world, so it means people will be watching me. It is important for me and it can only help my profile.
“We are both ranked so it’s an important fight, but there’s no added pressure for me. This is what I want, I’ve been waiting a long time for all of this and now is the time. I’m back active again, with a great win in my last fight. Now you are going to see me progressing, I believe it’s my time.”
Under Dillian Whyte’s management, Kongo has experienced the positive effects of a smoothly-operating partnership:
“I have a strong relationship with Dillian, I just spoke to him. I am happy with the job my management is doing, they are getting me good fights and opportunities. I’m happy to take on any fight brought to me if it is the right fight at the right time.”
In an urgent desire for progression, Kongo aims to fight three times in 2021. To Kongo, any inclination to consider future opponents seems futile, believing that those big-name fights are inevitable:
“I want to have three fights this year. I’d be happy with that but, due to the pandemic, we don’t know what will happen this year. Eddie says he wants to have a show every weekend, so there should be cards to fight on. It could be a busy year for me.
“Right now, my only focus is on this upcoming fight. I have to be fully focused on this next one. Once we get past McKinson, we can go from there and see what’s out there next. I’d take on anyone, but I don’t care about anyone else – my focus is all on myself. There is interest and talk about certain potential fights. I’m happy to take on these names, why not? But for now, my only focus is my next fight in March.”