Lee McGregor v Alexis Boureima Kabore this weekend in Newcastle - Edinburgh boxer reveals thoughts of quitting after soul-destroying 2022
Edinburgh's British and European bantamweight champion Lee McGregor has revealed he toyed with the idea of quitting the sport for good.
It's been a turbulent 12 months for the former Meadowbank amateur, who hasn't fought since February last year when he drew with Diego Alberto Ruiz at London's York Hall.
The 26-year-old is happy to put a thoroughly miserable 2022 behind him as that turned out to be his only appearance in the ring, an outcome he admits was out of his control.
However, McGregor, who trains down in Essex alongside coach Ben Davison, makes his long overdue return at Newcastle Arena tomorrow night against Alexis Boureima Kabore for what he hopes can kick-start his career.
"It's been a really frustrating 12 months," McGregor told the Evening News. "But this is the start of another new chapter. The main thing about this weekend is just about getting back in there and enjoying myself. I just need to push on with the momentum I've built up in the gym over the last weeks and months. I want to be busy and then have some title fights.
"I became Commonwealth, British and European champion within ten fights and I think a lot of people forget that. It's now a case of new goals being set, at perhaps a new weight so the same ambitions apply, it's just the process has been delayed, through no fault of my own.
"I've not going to put any pressure on myself - I've been inactive for 13 months. It's been too long. I need to get familiar with being in the ring again and under the lights. Saturday needs to go well and then hopefully I can look at having a big fight at home in Scotland next.
"Every fight that had been lined up has fallen through these last 12 months. Mentally and physically it absolutely drained me. My life has been far from straightforward and I've managed to overcome everything that's been thrown my way so this is just another part of my story.
"The fights were always pulled at the last minute and it's difficult enough trying to cut weight so I was all over the place. I wasn't getting out of shape or living a stupid lifestyle. I've lived and breathed boxing for the last year – I've not even had one pint. I came back up for Christmas but I went back down to Essex just after the new year, I didn't feel good, didn't feel sharp. So, these last seven or eight weeks I've slowly got my momentum back but, don't get me wrong, it's been tough. There were days I thought I'd lost it.
"I even asked myself whether I could put up with it much longer. But I've got good people around me, my team, sponsors and they have kept me going. I don't know if I'd be stepping back into the ring this weekend if it wasn't for them.
"I think I'm too strong to quit but I did have those conversations. I was going back and forth to London, spending so much money on travel, accommodation and then not getting that fight at the end of it was soul destroying. I really was almost pulling my hair out at times. But I don't want to dwell on the past - I can't change it. I just need to focus on what lies ahead."