Lee McGregor (11-0-1, 9 KOs) suffered a blot on his record after recording a draw against Diego Ruiz (23-4-1, 12 KOs) at York Hall on Friday night.
The ten-round bout ended in a 95-95 verdict awarded by referee Kieran McCann. It’s a slight setback for the European bantamweight champion who was predicted to go on to a world title fight this year by his trainer Ben Davison.
While 25-year-old McGregor appeared to do enough to get the win by no means could you discredit the work of his South American opponent who was competitive for large portions. This was Ruiz’ second visit to England in as many fights having lost to McGregor’s stable-mate Shabaz Masoud last November.
The Scot’s imposing frame and presence looked like it could overwhelm Ruiz in the early rounds. McGregor was the heavier handed of the two and often looked for eye-catching uppercuts and his trademark body shots.
Ruiz gave as good as he got particularly when under attack, but McGregor was always landing the more punishment and putting the Argentinian under pressure.
McGregor could have won rounds more comfortably though had he resorted to the jabs and feints that he perhaps didn’t show enough of. The Scot’s preference seemed to switch to hunt-mode banking on his heavier hands to do enough damage to pay off down the stretch, but Ruiz stuck with him.
At times the two fighters would engage in moments akin to the old rock ‘em sock ‘em robots with both looking for those head jolting uppercuts on the inside. However, in the seventh round McGregor showed some moments of genuine class with a lovely left hook followed up by a right. He would back that up by slipping the jab of Ruiz nicely and overall showed great discipline for those three minutes to demonstrate he was the better fighter.
In the final few rounds there were machismo moments when each man would take turns with similar shots up close looking to stun the other. McGregor continued to put a lot into his punches and frequently had the lost word in the three-minute mini-battles. And in the last session the Scot once again displayed flashes of why he is highly thought of. Slipping attacks from Ruiz, stepping in with a big right hand before getting out of range and landing a bantamweight bomb that Ruiz shook his head at.
With the scorecard announced McGregor soon exited the ring likely enraged by the verdict. The Boxing Social scorecard had the European 118lb champion winning 98-92.
McGregor’s performance against Vincent Legrand last August, the first defence of his European crown disappointed the champion who was dropped in the second round before ending matters in the fourth. And now a draw against the unfancied Ruiz are speed bumps that you might expect to happen earlier in a career. However, McGregor has experienced so much success so quickly that now he finds himself under more scrutiny and pressure than before. It is at this juncture that McGregor and his team must decide what is needed most for the IBF number three contender to progress to the next level.
In the night’s other co-main event Danny Dignum (14-0-1, 8 KOs) successfully defended his WBO European middleweight title for a third time.
His latest defence against Grant Dennis (17-4, 3 KOs) wasn’t straightforward with the champion cut and had to deal with a challenger who provided some early problems particularly with his movement.
With just under 29 seconds left in round six referee Bob Williams had seen enough after Dennis had been dropped for a third and final time. Dignum, ranked number four with the WBO, stays on course for a much more significant fight which promoter Lee Eaton hinted at post-fight.