Edinburgh boxer Lee McGregor has shunned the opportunity to represent his country at next year’s Commonwealth Games to sign professional terms with Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions.
The British and Scottish 56kg champion has decided to call time on a glittering amateur career despite being tipped to win gold at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in six months time.
However, Team Scotland’s loss is Cyclone’s gain, with the 20-year-old now set to make his pro debut at the Royal Highland Centre next Saturday on the undercard of new stablemate Josh Taylor’s ‘Risk vs Reward’ showdown with former IBF world lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez.
McGregor insists he has no regrets declining the chance to compete for Scotland Down Under next spring as his focus is now on climbing the bantamweight division. The former Meadowbank fighter will split his time between Edinburgh and London and will work under the guidance of Shane McGuigan.
“It’s not a massive deal that I am missing out on the Commonwealth Games because I am going to be remembered for hopefully going on to become world champion,” McGregor said as he was unveiled at yesterday’s press conference. “That’s what you dream of as a young kid. I think by the time April comes next year I am going to be a completely different fighter training under Shane. I’ve improved tenfold having been with him down in London the last five or six weeks.
“I believe I am with the right team and I’ve got the talent to do it. It’s just about keeping me grounded now. I had all sorts of offers [from other promoters] but Cyclone just felt right for me, especially having Josh as well. We’re both Edinburgh lads, he’s had so many big nights already with many more to come. I’ve been at his fights and I’ve said to myself every time ‘I could be a part of this’.
“Josh’s success did sway me quite a bit. Cyclone are putting big shows on in Edinburgh and it’s only a matter of time before he is fighting for a world title. I’m going to be part of it all and it’s only going to do me the world of good when it’s my turn. I’ve always wanted to be part of Cyclone, I just didn’t think it would be this soon.”
McGregor’s courage isn’t solely restricted to the ring. He lost his mother Elizabeth to cancer in May before his grandmother and cousin both passed away just a couple of weeks later. Such adversity, he says, was a bit of a wake-up call.
“You know what life is too short for having regrets and I’ve come to realise that this year,” he said. “It’s taken a lot of strength to get through everything that’s happened but I’ve dragged myself to training, starved myself and still made the weight despite all the heartache so it’s made me a stronger person.
“I’m proud of myself that I’ve managed to do that. A lot of people might have stopped boxing altogether but I’ve used it as motivation and it’s time for me to bring some happiness to my family again. The quicker I get on that road the better so the journey starts next Saturday. Barry was a world champion at 24 and he believes I will do the same. I’m really happy he thinks that highly of me.”
Meanwhile, McGuigan couldn’t speak highly enough of his latest recruit, reinforcing the talent he has at his disposal.
“He’s such a lovely kid considering he’s had such terrible misfortune with his family. He’s only been a boxer for five years and a lot of people are already talking about him,” McGuigan said. “He’s going to become very successful, win lots of titles and make a lot of money. I know from my own experience that in the amateurs you can get messed around for years and years and, with the greatest respect, people don’t care about what you do there. They don’t remember that I was 17 when I won the Commonwealth Games in 1978, nobody cares about that. They’re interested in a boxer’s pro career. These kids are the future so it’s very exciting.”