The best all-Scottish fight in some years, Lee McGregor vs Kash Farooq sees the former go home with two major belts
If Regis Prograis vs Josh Taylor was a perfect storm of two great fighters coming together at the peak of their powers, then Kash Farooq vs Lee McGregor was surely the domestic equivalent.
Both young and undefeated Scots, Glasgow’s Farooq (23) held the British bantamweight title and had in fact secured the coveted Lonsdale Belt outright, while McGregor, a year younger, was the reigning Commonwealth champion. McGregor, the more accomplished amateur, was significantly bigger and potentially physically stronger, but Farooq was the slicker, more evasive and packed a punch that was developing all the time. The British Asian also boasted home city advantage at the Emirates Arena and his six inside-schedule victories (from 13 overall) had come within his last seven fights.
McGregor, entering his third bout with trainer Grant Smith having begun his pro career under Shane McGuigan, was just 7-0 (6) but had displayed a level of composure belying his lack of professional experience. His promoter, MTK Global, also staged the show, headlined by this scheduled 12-rounder for both belts that was easily each man’s sternest test thus far.
McGregor was officially two-and-a-half inches taller but the height difference appeared more pronounced. He attempted to use his reach advantage early on but the head movement of ’Untouchable’ Farooq was impressive. Both began to unload the heavy artillery in round two. Farooq looked to time McGregor’s lead and counter sharply, as he did with a sweet combination in the second and a left hook in the next.
McGregor claimed Farooq up close and wrestled him back, smartly aiming to tire out the faster, sharper man. Farooq was cut under the right eye in the fourth, shortly before Lee landed a good long right hand. Farooq increased his body attack from the fifth. It was ultra-competitive but McGregor was missing more and that had to be draining him. The Edinburgh man looked to stay mobile but found it hard to move away without taking shots. Farooq rolled into range to land short blows up and down. I had him 4-2 up at halfway.
McGregor scored with the right uppercut throughout and landed several clean in a better seventh session for him. Farooq came marauding back in the next, especially to the body, outlanding his opponent. The fight was compelling if not constantly thrilling. Both kept their composure remarkably well under intense pressure, especially Kash, who was cut again, this time around the left optic, in a ninth he was winning, then bulled through the ropes. Farooq moved into a three-point lead on my card.
McGregor fought southpaw during parts of the later rounds and it worked for him, stabbing out long punches then moving or grabbing. The latter cost him a point in the 10th, which was unfortunate as it was Lee’s best round. Farooq got back to his upper-body movement in the 11th, and landed the cleaner blows. Farooq closed the distance in the last, drawing the lead and countering. McGregor swung for the fences but did land a few. I marked it a draw, leaving a final tally of 116-112 Farooq.
Two judges disagreed, with one score each of 114-113 and a 115-112 for Edinburgh’s new double champion.