A tattoo across his right arm shows a picture of a clock, a stark reminder that time can pass you by, particularly in this game. It seemed fitting then that we discussed the last seven months of inactivity from “Lightning” Lee McGregor who admitted he was relieved to be getting back out.
“It’s been a frustrating time not getting any fights, I’ve been ready to fight since the new year. It just seemed to be difficult securing opponents so I have had to spend my time ticking over in the gym and working hard behind the scenes. I’m just so glad to finally have a fight date and I can look forward to getting back in that ring, its been a long time coming so I’m really excited about it. Having two big fights in quick succession is exactly what I need and then I want to push on for a big end to the year. Next week I’m in a six rounder against Christian Narvaez, he’s had 35 fights and only been stopped once. He’s been in with some good fighters too so it will be interesting to see how I deal with him. After that I’m defending my Commonwealth title in June. With me having been inactive for a while it’s perfect and we can look for a big ending to the year after that. MTK are on board in an advisory role at the moment and they will be helping to get the fights for me.”
Now training with Grant Smith after having split from Shane McGuigan in a coaching capacity, you would have had a pick of trainers, was it an easy decision to move to Grant?
“To be fair I’ve sort of always kept in touch as I speak to Sunny Edwards a lot and I’ve been used to it down there from being on the GB team. Being honest I needed a bit of a kick up the arse to get something in place as I was letting weeks go by and although I was running and training every day its not the same as being in the gym. I was letting weeks go by with nothing organised and then one day it just clicked and I thought I need to get the finger out. I went down to Sheffield and tried out with Grant and from the first session with him everything just clicked well and we were gelling so it was a no brainer. Also, all the lads were good and I knew most of them from the amateurs. Obviously Sunny is there and also his brother Charlie but Grant’s son Dalton Smith is there too and he is some talent. I’m just sorting out a flat down in Sheffield at the moment so that will make things easier for training as well. I want to give things a really good crack as this is a really important year for me, it’s not make or break but it’s certainly a big year so I want to give it my all with no excuses.”
On June 22nd Lee is headlining his first show in Scotland and it’s against the guy who said he wouldn’t fight anyone in Scotland, Scott Allan. Lee opened up on his thoughts around this and the fight itself.
“I’m delighted to be headlining a big show in Scotland. I’m really excited about it as it’s everyone’s dream to be headlining their own show and it’s something I’ve wanted for a while. It’s live on ESPN as well so I’m buzzing and can’t wait, it’s going to be a great night.”
“As far as Scott’s concerned it’s crazy he would say that considering he was the one who pulled out of our fight the first time. I’ve had a few people ask me do I think he will pull out again but I genuinely think he will turn up and I’m very confident he will this time. The fact that he has done this once before and then he’s gone on record in his interview saying I won’t fight. If he does pull out again, he will never be able to live that down.”
“It’s for my Commonwealth title, I’m not actually sure if it’s for his Celtic title or not as well as I’ve seen a few things saying it’s for both so I’ll need to check. If he’s that confident then he can put his belt on the line as well as me. To be honest his title doesn’t mean that much to me but I wouldn’t mind taking it off him and giving it to my baby so she can play with it!!”
“I find him quite disrespectful and people know that’s not really my style so I feel he needs brought down a peg or two. If there is anyone I really want to knock down a peg or two and bring back to reality then it’s him. I want to give him a beating but it just depends as he’s quite wiry and awkward so he might make it difficult for the first couple of rounds. I’m with a new trainer as well so my style could be different by June if I’m trying new things out. I’m very confident I’m going to win the fight but I don’t really want a one punch knockout. I want to beat him up for a good few rounds and then take him out towards the end but let’s see how it goes, I’m really looking forward to it. A few people have said to me he doesn’t even deserve to be in the ring with me as he hasn’t earned the right but his mouth has got him here. The boxing fans are buzzing for it as there has been so much talk about this and they want to see what’s going to happen.”
Looking further ahead to future fights the conversation was always going to come around to discussing the domestic clash that everyone in Scotland seems to want to see. Glasgow’s Kash Farooq is the current British champion and both men have made no secret that this is a fight they are both looking forward to. Lee confessed it’s the fight he wants most but also outlined his fears it may not come off.
“With me having these fights lined up it gives Kash the chance to have another defence and win it outright and then we can hopefully get it on. To fight for the Commonwealth and British titles is fantastic and then the winner would probably move on to European level and the loser comes again. It’s what you dream of as a kid, it’s also not just you waking up buzzing for the fight but you have people you don’t even know buzzing as they are coming to watch us fight each other. It would be an unbelievable event and it needs to happen; I’m scared it doesn’t happen and the fans miss out on an incredible fight because they held out too long.”
Known to be big for the bantamweight division and I wanted to know how long he felt he could stay at the 118 lbs limit?
“It just depends, the team I have around me keep me right with that but it can happen so quickly that you outgrow things. You’ve seen it with other boxers that in the space of a year they move up two or three weight classes. I believe I could try and hold out to win a world title at this weight, I believe I could win the British and even the European just now but the jump from that to world level is massive. I’m not world level yet, nowhere near it and I have loads to learn. I’m taking the right steps though and, in another year, I’d like to think I could be challenging for World Titles. I also think I could probably move up three or four different weight classes which would be so exciting. I’ve possibly even got the frame for lightweight once I fill out but that’s looking too far ahead.”
The main man at bantamweight presently, Naoya Inoue, is on the same bill as Lee next week and he agreed that seeing him in action can only inspire him.
“He’s an unreal talent and to get the opportunity to see him up close is incredible. It’s going to be a privilege to watch him and I just hope he’s moved on from bantamweight by the time I get to that level”, laughed Lee. “I think he’s actually in for a hard fight against Emmanuel Rodriguez as he is a phenomenal fighter as well and if anyone has a chance of beating Inoue then it’s him.”
Finally, prediction time was here and Lee gave his thoughts on who would be victorious in next week’s semi- finals on WBSS along with his own fight in June.
“I think Josh wins on points as that Ivan Baranchyk is tough and also Inoue beats Rodriguez on points. As far as my fight with Scott Allan is concerned. I want to beat him up and knock him out, that’s what I want to do and that’s what I think I’ll do. I just hope he turns up this time!”
Interview by Jon Bruce