Lee McGregor claims to be ‘a different animal’ ahead of European title defence

Lee McGregor insists he is a different animal as he prepares to make a note-0first defence of his European bantamweight title.

By Neil McGlade
Saturday, 7th August 2021, 9:08 am
Lee McGregor celebrates his victory over Karim Guerfi to win the European bantamweight title. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Lee McGregor celebrates his victory over Karim Guerfi to win the European bantamweight title. Picture: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The 24-year-old returns to the ring in Belfast's Falls Park tonight as chief support for home-favourite Michael Conlan's WBA interim world featherweight title against fellow Irish warrior TJ Doheny.

Undefeated McGregor, who secured European honours with a career-best knockout of Frenchman Karim Guerfi in March, faces Guerfi's compatriot Vincent Legrand, who has racked up an unblemished record of 32 successive wins since turning professional 12 years ago.

McGregor, the reigning British champion, has been working under the tutelage of trainer Ben Davison fast approaching 11 months. Davison is also the coach of undisputed world super lightweight champion Josh Taylor.

And the former Meadowbank amateur believes he is now equipped to tackle any bantamweight that is put before him.

"The improvements I've made since April last year are remarkable," McGregor said. "I feel I've changed as a person completely. My lifestyle is different and I've got a whole new lease of life for boxing. I'm loving it and I'm just a different animal. I'm getting better and better every camp. The person before April last year was doing things wrong, not being as professional as I should have been in between fights, I wasn't enjoying my life away from boxing so everything is just so much more positive and healthier. I'm in the best place I've ever been.

"I was hating training before because I wasn't eating enough and I was always down in the dumps, low on energy, eating the wrong things at the wrong time. I'm grateful for the setback because it made me appreciate what was important and what I needed to do.

"I feel super, super fit. I did 12 rounds with three different opponents a couple of weeks ago for my last sparring session, just to make sure the rounds are in the bank, and I honestly felt I could have done another 12 straight after. It's not b******t either because the proof is in the pudding with my numbers in training."

"His (Legrand) record is exceptional, there's no two ways about it. He's had more knockouts than I have had fights so I'm expecting a tough night. He's no mug, he's coming to win as he's never lost before so he's dangerous. I'll need to be really switched on but I'm confident I'll be victorious. It doesn't matter who is in that opposite corner, I have belief in my own ability."

McGregor was in Las Vegas in May to witness boxing history when MTK stablemate Taylor became the first Briton to acquire every strap in the four-belt era with a unanimous victory over the previous undefeated Mexican-American Jose Ramirez.

"It was incredible to be a part of in Las Vegas and see my friend make history," McGregor said. "It's a time in my life I'll never forget. It was just incredible to be out there and witness it. I'm so grateful for Josh giving me that opportunity. It's given me that motivation to say 'I can be doing this soon'. It was a life-changing experience and that's what I want to do. I know I am getting closer and another win tonight will help my cause."