Lee McGregor added the British bantamweight title to his Commonwealth belt, edging Ukashir Farooq by hard-fought and controversial split decision at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday.
In the biggest all-Scottish fight since 2006, when Alex Arthur and Ricky Burns met, there was a lot of anticipation around this fight with local bragging rights on the line and it didn’t disappoint.
Many in attendance believed Farooq (13-1, 6 knockouts) had done enough to win but it was McGregor (8-0, 6 KOs) was awarded the decision. John Latham scored the fight 114-113 for Farooq but he was out-voted by Phil Edwards and Mark Lyson who scored the contest for McGregor, 114-113 and 115-112, respectively.
Both men had their moments in a closely fought opening round. However, early in the second round two the fight caught fire, Farooq landed a couple of impressive shots, McGregor returned fire and Farooq fired back with a good three punch combination.
As the rounds progressed both landed shots but it was Farooq, who was cut under the right eye in the third round, who looked the busier of the two and seemed to be shading proceedings heading into the second half of the fight.
Farooq’s impressive work-rate coupled with his upper-body movement and bodyshots were giving McGregor trouble but the taller, rangier McGregor, 22, stuck to his task and was a constant danger. He landed several hurtful uppercuts, particularly in the early stages of the seventh round.
In the ninth round Farooq was cut over the left eye. To his credit the 23-year-old from Glasgow didn’t let it affect him and he continued to fight at a frenetic pace. In the final stages of the round the two were wrestling for position and fell through the ropes. Referee Vic Loughlin, who kept things clean throughout, admonished both and in the 10th took a point from McGregor for an infringement.
It looked as though the point may be pivotal on the scorecards. Both fought their hearts out over the final six minutes with McGregor shading matters, helping him ultimately to win.
“I’m really over the moon,” McGregor said when he was interviewed by BBC Scotland afterwards. “It was a really hard fight. I feel I had a good start, he outworked me in the middle rounds and what a strong finish I had.
“I would have been confident of winning the fight clearly but I knew with the point off it was going to be close. I think, just like it was before hand, there are going to be so many opinions on who won the fight, it was that kind of fight. I just think my strong finish won me the fight. It was my heart and desire, I showed I wanted to win the fight more.
“I’ve had eight fights, what do we do? Do we go European and world level, I don’t know, I’m going to leave it my management. I feel I need a few more fights like that and then I’m ready to takeover the world.”
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