Boxer Lee McGregor heads back home as he embarks on new chapter in featherweight division
The 26-year-old recently severed ties with former mentor Essex-based Ben Davison and is now working under the tutelage of trainer Billy Nelson in Airdrie.
McGregor suffered the first defeat of his professional career just over three months ago, coming up short in his IBO world super bantamweight duel against Mexican Erik Robles Ayala at Meadowbank.
However, the 12-1-1 fighter will get back on the saddle on Friday, December 1 when he debuts at featherweight for the vacant WBO European strap against Isaac Lowe at Bolton Wanderers' Toughsheet Community Stadium.
And in an exclusive interview with the Evening News, McGregor revealed he is excited about the next chapter in his boxing career where he will now be able to devote a lot more time to fiancé Amber and four-year-old daughter, Maddie.
"When you're younger and you don't have kids, no house, no responsibilities, it's a lot easier," McGregor explained. "But, as I've got older, I had my daughter in 2018, you start to realise it's not all about you anymore. I couldn't have done any of this without Amber. I've had all the help by my side. That said, no matter how good a coaching team you have, the facilities or whatever, if you're not happy in yourself then you're not going to be able to perform at your best and that was the slope I was going down. It is a selfish sport.
"After the defeat in July, it wasn't a case of thinking I needed to get a new trainer or anything like that, I don't have anything bad to say about Ben - we still speak and are on good terms. He knows it's been challenging for me these last few years going up and down the country - particularly when there wasn't any fights at the end of it. Everyone knows in boxing that if you don't fight then you don't get paid.
"I was spending a lot of money that I really didn't have. Trying to keep on top of my mortgage here in Edinburgh and then going back down to Essex, constantly training and then fights falling through. It was a tough time. I just think it eventually took its toll. Even if I'd had my hand raised in my last fight, I still would have come home. I just want to enjoy being in my own home with my family again.
McGregor is now hoping to make a big impact in the featherweight division as he targets a career-defining 2024.
"It was a tough couple of weeks after my last fight," he reflected. "It took me a while to feel myself again. I'm 27 in December but it only feels like yesterday I was making my debut. Time is marching on.
"I'm not making excuses for my last fight, but my body just shut down during it. I was tired, weak, my head was all fuzzy - I just wasn't there. I didn't sleep the night before at all. The biggest fight of your life, something I'd fought tooth and nail for, and I wouldn't have been confident going up against a bin man.
"I could have easily pulled out on the day, told the truth and admitted I'd messed up with the weight, that I hadn't been able to refuel my body and what have you. I've seen many fighters do it but that's not how I work. It was never an option. I thought the adrenaline might get me through it but clearly that was never going to be enough.
"I'm fully focused on December 1 now. I need to win the fight, get Christmas out the way, although I will enjoy it this year, and then hopefully 2024 is the year. It's great to be in the chance of winning another European belt. I have the balls to get right back on it. I'm not wasting any more time."