Preview of Lee McGregor’s European Bantamweight Title Challenge


Last Updated on 16 Jul 2022 12:12 pm (UK Time)

Even without a television deal, Lee Eaton and MTK Global continue to give fight fans amazing, quality fight cards in the pandemic without a crowd. British and Commonwealth Bantamweight Champion, Scottish Lee McGregor challenges reigning champion Karim Guerfi for his European Title on Friday 19 March on ESPN+ in the USA and Live and Free on IFL TV worldwide. #MTKFIGHTNIGHT

Initially made for November 11, it was rescheduled due to an unfortunate positive Covid-19 test from Lee McGregor on fight week. Then reannounced for January 22 and February 6 it was cancelled on both occasions due to the BBBofC restrictions for boxing in the UK and travel problems for the new proposed venue of Dubai.

The fight will now take place at the Bolton Whites Hotel in Lancashire where the February 19 event took place. On Chief Support, Paul Hyland Jnr takes on Maxi Hughes for the vacant British Lightweight Title. MTK Global won the purse bids for Walsh Hyland and was set to stage it on February 19 but a positive covid-19 test from Walsh let to it being postponed.

Walsh is still recovering from Covid-19 and as a result, will not be contesting for the title on March 19 but will instead fight the winner of Hyland Hughes. Maxi Hughes comes in on a few weeks notice. Hughes has got strong momentum throughout the lockdown period and looks to continue this on March 19.

McGregor Guerfi: European Bantamweight Championship

Lee McGregor vs Karim Guerfi EBU
Lee McGregor vs Karim Guerfi EBU

Lee McGregor (9-0, 7 KO) takes his toughest test to date on Friday night against France’s Karim Guerfi. McGregor will challenge the 3-time and defending champion Guerfi for his European crown.

Additionally, Lee McGregor is ranked #5 with the IBF and Guerfi #6 with the same governing body, although this isn’t a title eliminator the winner is likely to significantly propel themselves higher into the rankings and potentially into a mandatory position to unified champion Naoya Inoue.

McGregor is just 23 years old and made his first big statement in the paid ranks in just his 5th professional fight in 2018 when he knocked out Thomas Essomba for the Vacant Commonwealth Bantamweight title. Essomba is a high-level gatekeeper and has 6 defeats, McGregor remains the only person to stop him to date.

McGregor then defended his crown against the Celtic and former Scottish champion Scott Allan in June 2019 dominating him en route to an 8th round TKO victory. Lee McGregor then faced his biggest challenge to date in reigning Undefeated British Bantamweight champion Kash Farooq (13-0) in an all-Scottish collision to unify the British and Commonwealth belts.

McGregor won a controversial split-decision with a lot of uncertainty and with Farooq signing with Matchroom they both look forward to a huge rematch in 2021.

Lee McGregor to fight Karim Guerfi for European title in November | The Scotsman
Lee McGregor unifies the British and Commonwealth Titles against Kash Farooq in Glasgow; November 16 2019.

The Scotsman returned in August behind closed doors with a 5th round stoppage of Ryan Walker. He now hopes to capture the European title and target a world title shot in 2021.

The Defending Champion Karim Guerfi (29-4) has been a professional for 14 years and vastly more experienced than Lee McGregor.Guerfi first picked up the EBU Belt against Stephane Jamoye in 2013. After losing the belt by knockout in his next fight, he rewon the title against British Ryan Farrag in 2016.

The Frenchmen then made an unsuccessful challenge of the vacant IBO World Title against Michael Dasmarinas in 2018 before recapturing the European belt for the third time in November 2019 beating defending champion Georges Ory.

After unsuccessful attempts at world level, and three European title wins we know that Karim Guerfi is a European level fighter and therefore a step-up for McGregor but not enough of an elevation to give him too many problems. Guerfi’s punch resistance is questionable with two stoppage defeats and we will be expecting the heavy-handed Lee McGregor to make a statement with a TKO victory on Saturday.

Hyland vs Hughes: Vacant British Lightweight Title

Paul Hyland Jnr Ready to test himself again. Walsh vs Hyland Jnr
Paul Hyland Jnr Ready to test himself again. Co-Mian Event to Lee McGregor-Karim Guerfi

Belfast’s Paul Hyland Jnr (20-2) picked up his signature victory when he successfully defended his International Boxing Federation European Light Title against Ireland’s Stephen Ormond via split decision. This landed him a British Title shot against undefeated Lewis Ritson where he got blown away inside a round. Ritson showed his size, power, strength and experience in that fight.

Hyland landed another significant fight a year later in Italy against European Champion Francesco Patera. Patera targeted the body from the offset flooring Hyland 4 times en route to a sixth-round stoppage victory. Hyland has shown he is far from European level and vulnerable to power punches. He goes into a fight with Maxi Hughes as the a-side but it is a 50/50 fight with Hughes going in as a favourite in some fans minds.

Maxi Hughes Claims WBC International Lightweight Title
Maxi Hughes Claims WBC International Lightweight Title

Maxi Hughes stunned the boxing world when he outpointed Jono Carroll as a huge underdog in the first MTK Show back after the pandemic. He outpointed the Irishmen who was coming off a career-best win over 10 rounds. He continued this run in Dubai just 2 months later upsetting unbeaten Ukraine fighter Viktor Kotochigov claiming the WBC International Lightweight Title.

Hughes does not shy away from a challenge and now on less than a month’s notice takes another tough fight. He attempts to go from a ‘gatekeeper’ type position to winning the British title in just over 7 months. A win here could land him another huge fight in the form of Commonwealth champion Gavin Gwynne who pulled off an upset on a February MTK Show.

MTK Global Delivers another 50/50 fight as the co-main to a terrific show and looks to continue their run of terrific, evenly matched show post-lockdown and quickly position themselves as the Second-best Boxing content deliverer in the UK just behind Matchroom and land another monumental television deal potentially with DAZN.

Lee McGregor vs Karim Guerfi, Paul Hyland Jnr vs Maxi Hughes 

MTK Global: March 19 IFL TV and ESPN + From 7pm GMT


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