McGregor Edges Farooq Amid Controversy
By: Oliver McManus
Glasgow was finely poised last night for what promised to be a tantalising fight between Kash Farooq and Lee McGregor. The relatively novice pair, twenty fights between them, had seemed destined to face each other sooner or later and the occasion didn’t disappoint. Farooq’s British title, defended three times, and Lee McGregor’s Commonwealth belt (second defense) were on the line.
The first round was relatively tepid as both men looked to suss each other out. McGregor tried to piece slashing combinations at times but the gliding movement of Farooq made him miss. The Commonwealth champion dipped his way in and out, under the extended arm of his opponent.
Farooq continued to puzzle with his movement as the tempo heightened. McGregor rallied with flurries of punches but his most successful shot was a lurched, straight right thrown with real vigour. There was plenty of missing involved in the opening rounds; McGregor made to look wild with his swings by his opponent’s elusive movement.
When the Commonwealth champion was able to set his feet there was significant spite applied to his punches. Farooq looked to have settled the quickest with a composed body of work in the face of a lot of clinching. A crisp left hook struck McGregor brash across his face in the third to momentarily snap his head back in an early sign of Farooq’s power.
The Renfrewshire Boxing Club product was fighting at an ideal range; dancing his way up close to prevent any meaningful jab from McGregor and really digging into the body. The opening half of the bout went largely Farooq’s way as he looked breezy and relaxed.
In the seventh round McGregor began to push forward with more aggressive intent. The cut of Farooq was worsening, sustained in the fourth, and confidence started to flow for his Edinburgh-born opponent. He was no longer finding success with single punches but starting to land consistently with combinations. Farooq, for his part, remained mobile in dipping the knees and turning the body. A big surge from McGregor saw him take the round after a considerable effort.
Still the body movement of Farooq posed questions of McGregor’s variety. Good, strong punches were coming his way but not often enough to start clawing back at the tide. McGregor was looking to load up and punch down as Farooq twisted and turned.
Both fighters were sinking their feet into their canvas and fighting with conviction – more so as the fight progressed. It was the more imposing stature of McGregor that held up better as the rounds went on; whilst Farooq was still nipping around he was slightly slower than at the beginning. Crimson was flowing from his cut – near the right eye – and the punches followed. McGregor persisted in looking for heavy shots to get his weight behind. Farooq was satisfied with his chihuahua-esque work rate.
The tenth round saw McGregor landing fervent punches. Farooq still trudged forward but McGregor was adapting and holding his feet. A good right hand caught Farooq slightly unawares and it was a strong round from the Commonwealth champion. He fought at a resurgent rhythm and was rallying in the final rounds. All good until Victor Loughlin docked a point for persistent holding and not undeserved.
There is often a danger of fights as hotly anticipated as these being half-cooked but this was a pie full of heart. McGregor needed a strong finish and he responded in kind. He would catch Farooq with hefty shots in response to the cunning craftmanship of Farooq. The pressure from both men was unbelievable who mustered all their heart to put it on the line.
Onlookers for the most part had Kash Farooq winning a remarkable contest. The judges scored it with a tang of controversy – 114-113 to Farooq, 114-113 to McGregor and 115-112 to McGregor. Reaction to the decision was sour but, regardless of result, a rematch would have been high on the list for 2020.
Fight Preview: McGregor vs. Farooq
By: Oliver McManus
Promoting a fight when it makes sense: not letting it “marinate” or touting it as “one for the future”. It’s a rare commodity nowadays within the sport but Lee McGregor vs Kash Farooq provides some fresh relief this weekend.
The contest is a bruising all-Scottish affair with the Commonwealth and British bantamweight titles at stake. Between them the pair have had just 20 pro bouts – eight in title fights. This particular piece of matchmaking has been in the works for a while and doesn’t look like disappointing.
Farooq is touted as the slight favourite (4/6) having defended his British title on three occasions. The likeable 23 year old has proven to be a spiteful fighter over the course of 2019 with sharp stoppages over Kyle Williams and Duane Winters. His power at 118lbs has been evident from the early stages of his career with stoppages in all but one of his five title fights.
Eighteen rounds, over the course of two fights, with Scott Allan provided the most learning for Farooq. Their first bout, at the beginning of 2017, was comfortable enough for Farooq; Allan tied him up at points to prevent more fluid combinations. In the second encounter, ten months later, Farooq was wary of this and demonstrated a strong adaptability to get his shots off and stop Allan in the eighth.
Kash has looked effortless, breezily comfortable, in his thirteen professional fights. His reign as British champion hasn’t been too testing; Iain Butcher the only challenger to go the distance. It’s through a lack of competitive matchmaking – he’s faced a former Commonwealth challenger, a two time British title challenger, an undefeated English champion and a Southern Area titleholder. The youngster has simply been in the right fight at the right time and his class has shone through; Lee McGregor will take him to the well, of that you can be sure, and then we’ll see how he responds.
Edinburgh’s McGregor will be in his second bout since linking up with Grant Smith having left the McGuigans earlier in the year. At 22 years old he has wasted no time in establishing himself among the upper rungs of the domestic bantamweight division; Commonwealth champion in just his fifth fight.
Against Thomas Essomba in October last year, to secure the Commonwealth belt, a few challenges were posed of the Scotsman but he responded acutely. He was able to show plenty of grit to finish the contest with just over 90 seconds to go and he has always got that relentless, full-blooded body of assault to get himself out of trouble. That finisher’s instinct to kill a fight given even half a chance has been apparent from the off; McGregor has been able to produce a stoppage even against the most traditionally durable of opponents.
The experienced amateur – a competitor on the World and European stage – isn’t a one-legged Shetland, however. His workman-like approach to as meticulous as it is thorough and he can respond to different propositions. He always appears itching to get involved and make something of nothing – to put on a show – but as he’s got older there’s the realisation that patience will benefit him. A violent hook to the midriff will sneak out at every possible opportunity but McGregor is wiser than his past performances and has a genuine maturity to his boxing nowadays.
This should be twelve rounds of pure, unfiltered violence. We saw what happens when willing participants go to war just the other week; Jay Harris and Paddy Barnes sharing four rounds of “hell and abuse” – to quote Harris. This is set to be a second serving of that spirit.
My advice for Saturday night; put the kids to bed, turn off the phone, tell your wife you love her and sit in front of the television with a pack of Jammie Dodgers to enjoy one of the most joyously unpredictable fights you’ll see all year.
Kash Farooq Impresses Again, Retains British Title
By: Michael Kane
MTK Global put on a show at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow on Friday that included a host of up and coming local fighters.
Top of the bill was Glasgow’s own Kash Farroq making his first defence of his British Bantamweight title against Iain Butcher from Motherwell.
The 22 year old Farooq won the belt in September when he knocked out Jamie Wilson in under a minute, that was his 4th win by KO in his last 4 fights. Facing Farooq was the experienced former flyweight European champion Butcher.
Farooq took control of the fight from the off, with slick movement and peppering Butcher with body shots and good combinations. Butcher was a game opponent though and although being out boxed kept coming forward.
In the 5th round it looked like Farooq had Butcher in trouble and Farooq sensed this, looking for the KO however Butcher came out in the 6th and was still in the middle of the ring.
Farooq and his corner sensed they had hit Butcher with their best shot and he wasn’t going down so played the long game, winning the rounds and out boxing Butcher (18-4).
The judges scorecard reflected Farooq’s dominance, 120-109, 120-108 and 118-110.
Farooq (11-0) told Boxing Insider, “I feel I had good performance against a very good fighter and experienced fighter and fought the fight I wanted. I wanted to start fast and set a good place and make him fall short.”
“Im not too sure. I have to speak to my manager and trainer. And see what date they want me out. At the moment I’ll rest for a few days.”
Farooq’s coach, Craig Dickson said, “I think Kash gave a glimpse of the great potential he has. He barely took a shot in the first 6 rounds and showed some of the skills we’ve seen in the gym. His movement, balance and shot selection were great. He rolled with most of the shots that came his way but also showed he’s got a chin when he was caught flush in the second half of the fight.
“It was a great learning fight for Kash. He had his mind set on stopping Butcher and had to drop a gear to box his way to a points win once he realised Butcher had taken his best shots. He also showed he’s got a great engine and can maintain a high work rate throughout the 12 rounds. He’ll take a lot of experience from this fight with going the distance and realising it won’t always go the way you plan. Even though he’s disappointed he didn’t stop him, he’ll look back at this fight and see this was a great performance against a proven fighter at this level.”
I asked Dickson when we are likely to see Farooq back and what about a potential fight against another up and coming Scottish Bantamweight, Edinburgh’s Commonwealth champion Lee McGregor.
“First of all he’s having a break as it’s been a non stop trying camp for almost a year. Hopefully we’ll get news after Christmas on a date in March or April. There’s a couple of options but it depends on outcome of the next BBBofC meeting. Kyle Williams was due to fight Butcher in a final eliminator and will feel aggrieved if he doesn’t get a shot so I have a feeling he may get the mandatory position. If it was us in that position I would be on the phone to the board arguing the case. If we don’t get a mandatory we’ll look at the best offers/options available in a voluntary. Josh Wale would be a great domestic fight and after his controversial European title loss I am sure he’ll want a way back in and also that third notch to keep the belt. Lee McGregor is the fight everyone wants to see but we’ll not be pushed, the right fights at the right time is key. Both Lee and Kash should build the fight up going there own routes then meet in the second half of 2019 for a massive domestic showdown of two excellent unbeaten Scottish Boxing champions. Whatever happens I am confident Kash will just get better.”
Also on the card Kieran Smith recovered from a knock down to win the WBC International Silver Super Welterweight title, beating Evaldas Korsakas by unanimous decision.
This was a good workout for Smith (13-0), having won at the start of November in under a minute, this was a rematch against Korsakas (9-6-2), who had went on a 7 fight undefeated run. Smith survived the scare early in the fight to record a knock down of his own and won fairly convincingly. 95-93, 96-92, 96-93.
Smith told Boxing Insider, “Yeah im happy to get my first title in the bag, watched it back and thought I boxed clever staying clear of any danger and picking up round after round on score cards, next is a break for couple weeks, then a big 2019. Defend my belt and progress to bigger title fights under the guidance of MTK.”
Possibly the fight of the night was the much anticipated bout between Edinburgh’s Lewis Benson and Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna, both boxers were coming off defeats but put on a great fight for fans.
McKenna (17-1-1) was always looking to move forward and land the heavy shots however Benson appeared the more skilled boxer on the night, slipping and jabbing. It was an intriguing contest and the general consesus was Benson had won the fight however the referee scored the bout in favour of McKenna, 96-95. Benson then said he was retiring in the post fight interview and said he had requested that the fight be judged by 3 judges before he took part, a request which was obviously ignored.
Hopefully Benson (10-2) has reconsidered his decision away from the heat of the moment as he has a lot to offer despite losing his last two, both close decisions. A rematch would make the most sense.
BBBofC British Bantamweight Title
Ukashir Farooq beat Iain Butcher by unanimous decision. 120-109, 120-108, 118-110.
Tyrone McKenna beat Lewis Benson by decision. 96-95.
WBC International Silver Super Welterweight title
Kieran Smith beat Evaldas Korsakas by unanimous decision. 95-93, 96-92, 96-93.
David Brophy beat Charles Adamu by decision. 60-54.
Alex Dickinson beat Morgan Dessaux by decision, 60-54.
Callen McAuley beat Eligio Palacios by decision, 60-54.
Reece McFadden beat Elvis Guillen by decision 40-36.
Kash Farooq to Make First Defense of Title
Kash Farooq makes the first defence of his British Bantamweight title, tonight at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, Scotland.
Farroq who won the belt in devastating fashion against Jamie Wilson faces another Scot, Iain Butcher from Motherwell.
Both men should have big support in the arena with Farooq being from Glasgow and Motherwell only 10 miles away.
Butcher (18-3, 5 KOs) is the more experienced of the pair, he is a former European Flyweight champion. Butcher last fought in June against Brett Fidoe and won a point victory. Butcher’s last defeat was against Charlie Edwards when he fought for the vacant British Super flyweight title, losing by unanimous decision.
Butcher told Boxing Insider, “Kash is a good fighter and good at certain things he does but I think he lacks experience in big fights, and going the distance. He does have youth on his side and also hunger so should make for a great fight.”
Farooq (10-0, 4 KOs) knocked out Dundee’s Jamie Wilson in under a minute back in September to claim the vacant British title. Farooq has also held the Scottish title which he won by TKO against Scott Allan in November last year. Farroq has won his last four fights all by TKO.
Farooq said, “I’m looking forward to fighting in the Emirates arena in front of my fans in my home town. I see my self winning.”
In a stacked card at the Emirates Arena, featuring a host of local talent, one fight that has had people talking is the fight between Belfast’s Tyrone McKenna and Edinburgh’s Lewis Benson.
Both fighters have been going back and forth on social media in recent weeks and came head to head after the weigh in yesterday. Both boxers are coming off a loss, McKenna losing a unanimous decision to Jack Catterall for the WBO Inter-continental super lightweight title in June. That’s is McKennas only loss to date and has a record of 16-1.
McKenna spoke with Boxing Insider to give his thoughts on Benson, “He’s arrogant and cocky without actually accomplishing anything in the sport. I believe my size and strength will play a big factor and my high pace. I feel first few rounds may be close but as the fight goes on my class will show and i’ll ko him in the later rounds.”
Benson also lost for the only time so far in June in Belfast. He lost to Johnny Coyle on points and has a record of 10-1.
Both boxers will be looking to get back to winning ways and should make for a great fight.
Also on the card is Kieran Smith (12-0) facing Evaldas Korsakas (9-5-2) for the vacant WBC International Silver Super Welterweight title. Smith was in action at the start of the month on the World Boxing Super Series card in Glasgow when he recorded a quick fire knock out win over Pavol Garaj.
BBBoC British Bantamweight title
Ukashir Farooq v Iain Butcher
Lewis Benson v Tyrone McKenna
WBC International Silver Super Welterweight title
Kieran Smith v Evaldas Korsakas
David Brophy v Charles Adamu
Alex Dickinson v Morgan Dessaux
Callen McAulay v Eligio Palacios
Reece McFadden v Elvis Guillen
Kash Farooq: One to Watch
By: Michael Kane
Last Thursday in Glasgow fight fans would see the vacant British Bantamweight title up for grabs.
For the first time in 25 years a British title would be competed by two Scottish boxers at the prestigious St Andrews Sporting Club in Glasgow. Not since the meeting of Drew Docherty and Donnie Hood in 1993 has two Scots competed against each other for the accolade.
This time it was Jamie Wilson from Dundee facing Kash Farooq from Glasgow.
The fight was over after 71 seconds when Smith was blown away by Farooq. Smith was down after 15 seconds and would then be down another two times before the fight was stopped.
On paper this was to be a stiff test for Farooq, Wilson had already challenged for the British title last year however he never had a chance to get going.
There is an air of excitement around Farooq in Scottish boxing circles and this display would only add to that excitement.
By winning the Lonsdale belt, Farooq created a bit of history by becoming the first boxer from a Pakistani background to have won a British title.
Farooq (10-0 4 KO’s) born in Pakistan, moved to Glasgow when he was a young boy and will now hope to emulate fellow Scot Josh Taylor, who takes part in the World Boxing Super Series next month, and compete on the world stage.
I caught up with Kash Farooq and asked him how it felt to add the British title to his Scottish belt?
“It feels amazing. I could never imagine been a British champion that early in my career.” Farooq said.
Did he expect the early finish?
“Not really to be honest. I was expecting to go the distance but I found an opening and took my chance.” Farooq replied.
With Edinburgh’s Lee McGregor taking on Cameroon’s Thomas Essomba later this month, there has been some talk of an all Scottish bout between McGregor and Farooq. Farooq, for one, would be happy to see the fight made.
He explained, “Definitely it’s an all Scottish clash. And the fans would be really interested in the fight as well.”
After moving to 10-0, Farooq is looking forward to a rest, leaving it to his manager to organise his next fight, asking Farooq if he would be able to fight on the November 3rd World Boxing Super Series card in Glasgow, he replied, “I’ll need to speak to my manager when he wants me out. At the moment I’m just resting.”
Farooq’s coach from Renfrewshire Boxing Club, Craig Dickson was happy with Kash’s performance and believes he has put the division on alert.
“Kash’s win on Thursday shows he’s potentially levels above.” Dickson explained.
“The way he went about dispatching Jamie was in a way only top pedigrees fighters do. He was patient, stalked his opponent and timed it precisely with perfect technique. The way he then finished Jamie was well measured and controlled also.
“I think this performance puts out a statement to the others in the division. Nobody has done that to Jamie and certainly not in that way. A lot of people will take note and interest in Kash after that.”
Dickson would like to see Farooq take his time and build more experience in the division.
“I would love Kash to have the domestic dust ups, create interest and big nights but more importantly make bigger money for him and his family.” Dickson said.
“It’s not a big division so other opportunities may arise like European or even world but l’d prefer that a year or two down the line with more experience stepping up levels the old fashioned way. There’s no rush, he’s only 22.”
Dickson, like many others believes Kash Farooq is destined for the top of the sport.
“Kash ticks all the boxes, he’s extremely dedicated, fit and importantly talented, the stuff you can’t teach. With his potential and dedication I can really see him fighting for European then world titles. It’s all about timing and the right fights at the right time as they say.”