IN Bethnal Green on Friday (February 11) Edinburgh’s Lee McGregor failed to win for the first time as a pro when held to a draw by Argentina’s Diego Ruiz at York Hall. Referee Kieran McCann scored 95-95, suggesting five rounds apiece. I had it 96-94 McGregor but several rounds were close and level pegging was a reasonable interpretation.
McGregor has accumulated the British, Commonwealth and European bantam belts in just 11 fights, but this non-title bout was up at super-bantam and the Scot didn’t look as sharp as usual.
And Ruiz, who two years ago lasted into the ninth against Michael Conlan at featherweight, is a quality operator. He showed defensive skill backed by a sound chin and good movement. He also went onto the front foot at times, landing enough to bruise and swell McGregor’s face.
The Scot advanced steadily throughout, doing his best work with body shots and uppercuts – yet while Lee generally kept a tight defence, Ruiz’s handspeed enabled him to find gaps.
McGregor bloodied Ruiz’s nose in the fourth, only for the Argentinian to return the favour by cutting Lee under the right eye in the fifth. It was that sort of fight with the fighters taking turns to have a good spell before ceding the initiative.
It seemed McGregor’s persistent body work might have tipped things his way, but it was not to be.
In another 10-rounder Danny Dignum took a while to find his rhythm and range but when he did, he spectacularly dismantled Grant Dennis for a sixth-round stoppage at York Hall.
This 10-rounder topped the MTK Global show and saw Dignum retain his WBO European middleweight belt. That in itself might not mean much but it keeps the Bowers Gifford (Essex) southpaw on course for an alphabet body eliminator.
Yet in the early going such ambitions seemed in doubt as Dennis’ movement and hand speed troubled Dignum, who followed him around the ring but couldn’t quite catch up.
Chatham’s Dennis took the first two rounds and in the third added to Dignum’s woes by cutting him on the left eye with a good right. Danny responded by taking that session and the fourth courtesy of an improved output, but when Dennis edged the fifth it put him a round up at the halfway mark.
However Dennis had expended a lot of energy – and when Dignum stepped on the gas in round six, the fight changed completely. Solid combinations had the Kent man backing up, cut on the right eye – he was blinking it a lot – and down three times, with referee Bob Williams calling a halt after the third count.
Time was 2-31 and unrequired judges were Marcus McDonnell, Terry O’Connor and Phil Edwards.
Former English national amateur champion Bilal Fawaz finally made his professional debut a couple of months before his 34th birthday and showed no mercy to Vladimir Fleischhauer, stopping the Russian in the third of their super-welterweight four-rounder.
Kilburn’s Fawaz, trafficked to the UK as a child and for years held back by red tape, has no time to waste – and didn’t waste any here. He took a good look for two rounds before opening up in the third to land a dozen hard lefts and rights. With Fleischhauer’s head being jolted time and again, referee McCann rescued him at 1-41.
Oxford lightweight Jordan Flynn, trained by former world title challenger Kevin Mitchell, opened the show with a six-round points win over gritty Spain-based Romanian Marian Marius Istrate. Referee Chas Coakley scored 59-55 to Flynn, who did a lot of his best work to the body.
Another six ended at just 2-26 of the first round as southpaw Dublin super-welter Paul Ryan stopped CJ Wood (Middlesbrough). An onslaught put Wood down in the first half-minute and when a left hook to the body dropped him for a second eight count, referee Coakley waved it off.
Two four-rounders produced 40-36 points wins for popular young unbeatens with “Gorgeous” George Mitchell beating Vasif Mamedov at middleweight for Mr McCann and super-middle Joe Giles defeating Lewis van Poetsch for referee Coakley.
Mitchell, from St Albans, used his height and reach advantages to bloody the nose of his Russian opponent, while Wickford’s Giles also made good use of his long limbs as he outboxed Lydney journeyman Van Poetsch, who was sprightlier than usual.
The Verdict Dignum stays on course, while McGregor meets a bump in the road.