Lee McGregor v Karim Guerfi: European champion is in for ‘the biggest shock of his life’
It's a day Edinburgh boxing sensation Lee McGregor thought would never come.
Who could blame him? Three postponements, being struck down with Covid, weeks on end away from his loved ones, an exhausting five-month training camp – few could criticise had he chosen to throw in the towel.
But that's not in the undefeated 24-year-old British and Commonwealth bantamweight champion's DNA.
There is no time like the present and, should he secure his tenth successive win in Bolton tonight, McGregor will – at long last – fulfil his dream of becoming European champion.
Standing in his way is current belt holder, Frenchman Karim Guerfi (29-4), who is ten years McGregor's senior, but the former Meadowbank amateur is so fired up he can only see his hand being raised.
“It’s finally here and it feels real now. I’ve been tested for Covid and we’re good to go. I feel like I’ve been preparing for this moment forever," McGregor explained.
“I went to start camp when Josh [Taylor] was three weeks out from his fight with Apinun Khongsong last September. And I’ve been in camp ever since then. Those first few days feel like a lifetime ago. So, I can’t wait to finally be fighting. I’m so excited for it.
“I’ve made it clear that I’m willing to take risks. And if you do that, you’ll get rewards. My career has moved at a fast pace up until this point. I've got the British, Commonwealth and the IBF youth title I won in my fourth fight. And now I want the blue European one to go with it.
“People are going to see a huge difference in my performance. It’s going to be so much more clinical. The improvements I’ve made under Ben [Davison] and Lee Wylie, the video analyst, have been remarkable. But my actions will speak for themselves in the ring.
“If I perform as I have been in the gym then people are going to be blown away. I don’t want to say too much as it puts pressure on myself. But if I stick to the plan then there are going to be a lot of people shocked with the improvements that I’ve made. There will be eyes opened.”
Guefri, who weighed in at 117lbs 6oz, is no easy feat, however. “I thought he was three-times but he’s actually a four-time European champion which is seriously impressive,” said McGregor (118lbs). “He’s 34 and a lot more experienced than me.
“I think he thinks he’s just coming in with a young boy in front of him. But when that first bell goes he’s going to get the biggest shock of his life. But I have a lot of respect for him too. I know it’s going to be a hard fight. He’s only been beaten off world-level guys and he was in those fights. It won’t be easy for me but I’m ready for it.
“He likes a scrap but it has to be mature from me. I’ll fight at the right times, I’ll box at the right times and I’ll control how it goes. It will be a disciplined performance.
"This fight tonight is life-changing for me. One million per cent. So many doors will open if I’m victorious. That’s why I will leave everything in the ring.”
Tonight’s fight is expected to start shortly after 10pm and fans can watch it live on IFLTV and ESPN +.