There were superb performances from Michael McKinson and Jay Harris – as they starred on another action-packed MTK Fight Night event.
The show from Production Park Studios in Wakefield was broadcast live in the US on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and worldwide on IFL TV, and saw McKinson drop Harkin multiple times on his way to a decision win, while Harris had a fantastic battle with Marcel Braithwaite on his way to decision win too.
Elsewhere on the bill, there was a dominant victory for Paul Butler over Ryan Walker, and Paul McCullagh won his professional debut with a stoppage victory over Ben Thomas.
Michael McKinson defeats Martin Harkin by unanimous decision
Michael McKinson produced yet another masterclass as he dominated Martin Harkin throughout all 1o rounds of their welterweight battle.
It was a fast start from McKinson (19-0, 2 KOs), as he dropped Harkin (13-1, 5 KOs) in round one, before following that up with another knockdown in round two.
Harkin couldn’t cope with the constant pressure he was being put under, with McKinson securing another big knockdown in round five. Harkin managed to last the distance, with the judges scoring it to give McKinson a dominant win.
McKinson said: “I feel great to get the win. I’ve been out nearly a year and I was a bit rusty in there. I could have jumped in more when I made him miss, but he’s a dangerous guy.
“He was an unbeaten fighter, but that’s what I do for a living, I take the 0’s on their records for fun. Granted he isn’t the likes of Chris Kongo and Josh Kelly. I believe I can compete with those guys and that’s who I want next.
“I’ve been in the top 10 for three or four years now, I’m beating these guys with ease, one of those judges scored that 100-88. That’s a landside. Harkin might not be a big name but he’s more dangerous than half of those guys.
“I believe I’m the best welterweight in the UK, and I deserve to box one of those big names. These fighters can’t ignore me forever. I’m the realest of them all and I really want the big names.”
Jay Harris takes unanimous decisions against Marcel Braithwaits
It was a superb battle between Jay Harris and Marcel Braithwaite, with Harris earning the unanimous decision victory after an extremely entertaining 10 rounds.
Harris (18-1, 9 KOs) dictated the early proceedings, but things took a dramatic turn in round four when Braithwaite (9-3) rocked the Welshman with a massive left hook.
Harris managed to weather the storm, with the back and forth action continuing throughout the remainder of the fight. It went the distance, with the three judges scoring it 98-92, 97-93, 98-93 to Harris, after a tremendous showing from both men.
Harris said: “It’s good to have a fight like that. I don’t think I boxed 100%. I was a bit sluggish and got caught with a lot. I got punished at times, and credit to Marcel. He was as game as they come and gave me a good fight.
“In round four it was was a good shot he caught me with and I felt it. It buzzed me but I managed to recover and see the round out. It was my first fight back after eight months and it was a whole new experience for me.
“Credit to Marcel. He did a very good job, but I know that I have to perform better than that if I want to mix it at world level.”
Paul Butler beats Ryan Walker by points after eight rounds
Former world champion Paul Butler remained in contention for another world title shot as he defeated Ryan Walker on points after eight rounds.
Butler (32-2, 15 KOs) was in control throughout the majority of the fight, landing a number of good shots against Walker (11-3, 2 KOs).
Walker tried his best to make it competitive, but in the end Butler proved to be too good, with the referee scoring it 79-73 in favour of the Ellesmere Port man to hand him the win.
Butler said: “It was nice to be out there against a tough opponent in Ryan. I caught him a few times to the body. We were working a lot on the right hand side as he seemed to tuck up that way, then we tried going round to his left hand side and it worked and opened up a few gaps for me.
“I’ve had eight good rounds there and we’ll see what happens now. I’m number three in the IBF rankings, and I made championship weight so that could push me up to the number 2 spot which is vacant.
“I want the big fights. I might be 31 now but I still feel 24 or 25. I’m setting records in the gym and I’m looking forward to the future.”
Paul McCullagh TKO’s Ben Thomas in Round 3
Paul McCullagh made a perfect start to life in the professional ranks as he earned a third round stoppage victory over Ben Thomas.
It was a highly-anticipated debut for 20-year-old McCullagh (1-0, 1 KO), and he proved that the hype was real, unleashing a constant onslaught on his opponent that Thomas (2-4-3, 1 KO) struggled to cope with.
It led to a knockdown in round three, and while Thomas managed to get back to his feet, McCullagh continued the barrage and earned another knockdown, with Thomas unable to recover, handing Irish star McCullagh the stoppage win.
#MTKFightNight returns next month with a stacked show on November 11, as British and Commonwealth bantamweight champion Lee McGregor challenges Karim Guerfi for the EBU bantamweight title, while highly-rated Kazakh sensation Tursynbay Kulakhmet faces unbeaten Macaulay McGowan for the vacant WBC International super-welterweight title.
Elsewhere on the bill, Sultan Zaurbek takes on Jeff Ofori, Paddy Donovan goes up against Jumanne Camero, Hassan Azim makes his professional debut, and Jack Martin faces Inder Bassi.
MTK Fight Night: McKinson vs Harkin results
Michael McKinson def. Martin Harkin by unanimous decision
Jay Harris def. Marcel Braithwaite by unanimous decision
Paul Butler def. Ryan Walker by points decision
Paul McCullagh def. Ben Thomas by TKO (R3)