Lee McGregor puts Farooq rematch disappointment behind him, eyes big things in 2022
Rising bantamweight contender Lee McGregor will return to action against durable Diego Alberto Ruiz in a scheduled 10-round contest at the famed York Hall in London on Friday.
McGregor, who is rated No. 10 by The Ring at 118 pounds, is happy to be back after spending six months on the sidelines.
“I’m excited to get back in the ring, it’s been a while,” McGregor (11-0, 9 knockouts) told The Ring. “There’s been a few hiccups along the road. Nothing smooth, as usual, with me.
“I’m looking forward to a tough test, one that will hopefully make a statement, and push onto bigger and better things in 2022.”
The 25-year-old power-puncher is expecting the rugged Argentinean to give him rounds.
“He comes and has a go. He comes to win. You don’t want anyone coming just to pick up a paycheck and leave,” McGregor said.
“I need to be on my game. I want to go in there and put on a dominant performance and make a big statement. [I want to] showcase what I’ve been working on in the gym and deal with this guy in devastating fashion.”
McGregor had been due to defend his European title against Narek Abgaryan before Christmas, but the fight was moved back to January. Then the Edinburgh man’s plans for the first half of 2022 were completely altered.
“[Abgaryan] was a voluntary defense,” explained McGregor. “We wanted to get one in before the Kash Farooq rematch, which was done for April. It was a case of getting a good defense in; a solid enough fight, and pushing on from that. Obviously when that Kash Farooq fight fell through, things changed.
“It got to the stage, Christmas is out the way, it’s a new year. I’d picked up an injury towards the end of the year. We were trying to decide what to do, then we thought, let’s get out ASAP. We thought, get 10 rounds, 122 pounds, not a championship fight. With me being big at the weight, there’s no point going down to championship weight when it’s not a championship fight.”
McGregor is understandably disappointed that his all-Scottish grudge match with Farooq isn’t happening after Farooq was forced to retire recently due to “unforeseen circumstances”.
“I’m gutted and there’s so many reasons why I’m gutted,” he said. “The history from the first fight, the rematch was going to be huge, everyone in British boxing was anticipating that fight. I was so excited for it. They’re the type of fights you dream about being involved in as a kid.
“Financially it was a good fight for me: profile, exposure, everything would be through the roof. The improvements (I’ve made), put the wrongs right, any doubters – put that to bed. I’ve improved so much as a fighter and person. I’m devastated for him and myself.”
Now, McGregor is focused on other big fights and believes he will secure one this summer.
“It looks like there’s going to be a big fight after this, probably May, June,” he said. “Just waiting on some more confirmation. I’m focused on this one, but I know my team have got something spicy lined up for me.”
Ruiz (23-4, 12 KOs) turned professional in 2014. The Argentine fighter has won and defended his national title, and this will be the 27-year-old’s third trip to the U.K. On previous visits, he lost to Michael Conlan (TKO 9) and, in his most recent outing, was outpointed by Shabaz Masoud (PTS 10).