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‘Lightning’ Lee McGregor strikes

Lee McGregor
Lee McGregor was in stunning form as he captured the European title, writes Andy Whittle

FRENCHMAN Karim Guerfi was looking to successfully defend his European bantamweight title in the spacious surrounds of the Whites Hotel, tucked away beneath the stand at Bolton Wanderers’ football ground. Edinburgh’s Lee McGregor, though, had other ideas. The unbeaten Scot floored the champion three times in the opener before referee John Latham correctly waved it off after just 2-43.

Despite the bookmakers having “Lightning” Lee a clear favourite, few punters would have expected this one to be over quite so quickly. Less than a minute had elapsed before a left downstairs sent the 34-year-old Guerfi to the canvas. He was up just in time to beat the count but down again, from the exact same punch, less than 60 seconds later.

Buoyed by his early success, McGregor, 24, surged forward and his reward came when a left cross dropped Guerfi to all fours again in front of a neutral corner. Despite the three-time titlist hauling himself upright once more, Mr Latham saved him from any further punishment. Superb stuff from McGregor, who also holds the British and Commonwealth crowns.

It is hard to think of anyone more deserving of having a Lonsdale Belt strapped around his waist than Maxi Hughes, the Rossington lightweight who is currently enjoying the best spell of his career. Although the ending of his bout for the vacant British title against Belfast’s Paul Hyland Jnr proved controversial, he had seemingly been headed for victory anyway.

Busier in the early stages and well ahead, despite Hyland reducing arrears by taking the fifth, Maxi assumed the ascendancy once more in the sixth. Having been clattered by body shots and a combination upstairs, Paul appeared happy to hear the bell.

With the pendulum having swung increasingly in Hughes’ favour from the midway point of the seventh, it looked as if the under-fire Hyland was about to go down from a body blow in the eighth. Referee Mark Lyson initially moved in to send Maxi to a neutral corner, but Hyland remained upright and there was an instruction to box on. At which point, Hughes sprinted across the ring to slam home a right to the head, despite Paul still having his back turned. The punch sent “Hylo” to the mat.

The Northern Irishman just managed to beat the count but it was called off, with the eighth round just 80 seconds old. Hyland, whose corner were particularly enraged about the knockdown, did not appear to have an awful lot left in the tank anyway. It certainly did not look like the judges were going to be required.

Bolsover’s Jamie Robinson and Egham’s Billy Allington might just decide to do it all again after third man Howard Foster scored their contest level at 76-76. Harlow-born Robinson had proved the aggressor for the most part, seldom giving Allington a moment’s peace. However, although he was throwing punches aplenty, a fair percentage of what he threw was either evaded or did not quite find its intended target. Much more economical and having the better of things late on, Allington thought he had done enough at the finish, so ultimately the result did not particularly please either man.

Further down this MTK bill, Birmingham’s Paul Holt came unstuck against Keady’s Sean Gerard Duffy in a scheduled four. A left hook to the body dropped Holt to his knees for the duration of referee Foster’s count, with just 63 seconds of the third round having elapsed. While it lasted it proved highly watchable, though with Northern Irishman Duffy bossing proceedings. Both boxers picked up cuts above the left eye when heads clashed in the second.

Stoke stylist Shabaz Masoud proved far too slick for Shepshed’s Louis Norman, halting him at 1-12 of the fourth (set for six). After Norman was decked in the third by a combination to the head, two further knockdowns in the fourth forced the intervention of referee Lyson.

Poland’s previously undefeated Eryk Apresyan found his first outing on British soil not particularly to his liking, as Sutton Coldfield’s Nathan Bendon came out on top by 57-56 on Mr Lyson’s card at the conclusion of an always-close affair. A point deducted from the Pole in the closing round for pushing his opponent’s head down proved costly.

The Verdict After winning British, Commonwealth and European titles, the next stop for McGregor is world level.

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