Lee McGregor fulfils promise to dad to bring home Lonsdale Belt

Lee McGregor celebrates with his team after beating Kash Farooq on a split decision at the Emirates Arena. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
Lee McGregor celebrates with his team after beating Kash Farooq on a split decision at the Emirates Arena. Picture: Paul Devlin/SNS
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This was a pulsating contest that will continue to split opinion for many years to come. There is, however, no dispute it was a duel that will long live in the memory.

Both Edinburgh’s Lee McGregor and Glasgow’s Kash Farooq strengthened the feelgood factor filtering throughout Scottish boxing in the wake of compatriot Josh Taylor’s World Boxing Super Series triumph at London’s O2 last month.

A sold-out Emirates Arena has witnessed some sporting drama in its time. This dynamic duo served up another huge dollop on Saturday night as this bantamweight unification clash swung back and forth.

However, it’s McGregor who is still putting the pieces together following his heroic split-decision victory, the third judge scoring the bout 115-112 in his favour to squeeze the former Meadowbank amateur over the line and make him the new British and Commonwealth champion.

An elated McGregor said: “I know there’s a lot saying it was Kash by a round with others saying I’d won by a round. It’s about opinions isn’t it? That’s boxing for you.

“I was always confident I’d won the fight but when I got the point off in the tenth I knew it would be tighter. But I felt he should have had a point off too. I did some holding in the middle rounds but the last rounds it was him doing it. The ref should have squared it up but it doesn’t matter – I’ve got that British title. I’m just so happy.

“I had a good start. In the later rounds I felt he was sneaking the rounds with his tippy-tappy stuff on the inside. But I felt when I was sticking to my boxing I was winning the rounds quite clearly.

“He’s very clever and very educated and I had to just stand and grind it out with him now and again. But I had a strong finish and I think that won me the fight. It was a gruelling, hard fight.

“I always knew it was going to be a great fight, but I didn’t think it would be like that – an absolute barn-burner.”

McGregor continued: “A lot of people were tipping Kash. And I proved everyone wrong. I stood with my team before the fight and said ‘I’m not coming back to this changing room without that British title’. I promised my dad, when I was a young boy, that I was going to win the Lonsdale Belt. Now I’ve done it.”

In truth, there didn’t deserve to be a loser, such was the quality from both camps. Farooq, defending his British title for a fourth time, is so easy on the eye and turned in the performance of his life that, nine times out of ten, would have been enough to win three bouts.

The 23-year-old was badly cut and required medical attention in his dressing room but trainer Colin Bellshaw said: “Kash performed the fight of his life but was then robbed. First and foremost I thought the two boys put on a great fight. But we are all gutted. I thought it was comfortable for Kash. I thought he was three or four rounds up.

“I’m flabbergasted and bewildered by that last judge’s scorecard. I thought we were up by three rounds and that’s me being conservative. You always try to do that in the corner so you don’t get carried away.

“There was nothing I saw that made me think Lee had won it. He was the challenger for the British title and he made a good go of it. But he never won that title. It’s an MTK promotion and we’re not with MTK. But we’ll leave that for other people to talk about.”