In the history of Scottish boxing, there have only ever been a handful of matches where two Scots have met with major titles on the line and the opportunity to advance towards a world title shot as the prize. Ken Buchanan vs Jim Watt in 1973, and Alex Arthur vs Ricky Burns in 2006 stand out as the two most high profile all Scots encounters but Arthur's 2003 meeting with the then unbeaten Willie Limmond was also an eagerly anticipated affair in its day.
On Saturday the 16th November at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow, the British and Commonwealth titles will be on the line between British title holder Kash Farooq of Glasgow and Edinburgh's Commonwealth belt holder Lee McGregor. Farooq is 23-years-old with a 13-0-0 record including 6 knockouts and McGregor is 22-years-old with 7 wins, 6 by stoppage and no losses.
This fight has a real buzz around it, both boxers have looked destined for greater things for some time now, more so McGregor who turned pro as one to watch out for. Farooq has taken some time to grow into the fighter he is today, but in his last few fights, he has suddenly learned the finer points of the professional game and is now sitting down on his shots and making angles to produce gaps for his accurate body shots. This can be seen in his record, he went to points for the first six wins of his career, whereas only tough, former WBO European flyweight champion Ian Butcher managed to hear the final bell since when he challenged the Glasgow native for his British title in November last year.
When McGregor turned to the paid ranks directly from the GB squad, he was a big name signing that had all the big promotional outfits after his signature. He chose to start his career with Barry McGuigan's Cyclone Promotions and trained under Barry's son Shane. McGregor decided that he was happier training alongside his old friends from the GB squad days and moved to train under Grant Smith in Sheffield. Smith trains Lee's old amateur sidekicks Sunny and Charlie Edwards and is the father of Dalton Smith, another friend of Lee's. Lee is now advised by MTK Global who will be televising the fight alongside IFLTV in the UK while ESPN+ will stream the fight across the USA.
Kash Farooq has had his last few fights televised by BBC Scotland across the UK so he has become more of a recognised talent to UK boxing fans. He has looked such an improved fighter in the last year that he is being spoken about as a possible world title challenger in the not too distant future.
So, which of these two Scottish bantamweights is the more advanced? McGregor won his Commonwealth title in only his 5th paid outing when he scored a 12th round stoppage of North East based Cameroon born Thomas Essomba. That was the performance of a much more experienced fighter and in his next fight, Essomba proved his worth with a unanimous decision win over the previously unbeaten Sean McGoldrick for the WBA Continental title.
Since winning the vacant British title in September 2018 against Jamie Wilson, Farooq has made three straight defences to win the converted Lonsdale belt outright and has grown in confidence to the point where he looks ready to challenge for the European title held currently by France's Georges Ory.
This is a tough winner to pick. McGregor was so impressive in his win Over Essomba, and likewise, Farooq in his British title wins. But it is the body punching of Farooq that has impressed me the most, and with McGregor being tall and perhaps tight at the bantamweight limit I am inclined to back the Glaswegian Farooq.
Prediction: Farooq to stop McGregor in the championship rounds (10-12).