Commonwealth Games target for new Scottish boxing champions

Lee McGregor and Jack Turner
Lee McGregor beat Jack Turner in Ravenscraig

Edinburgh boxer Lee McGregor admits there was a time he thought he would not make this year's Scottish Championships.

He had major surgery on his hand in November last year and feared missing out would give his rivals at his weight an advantage in racking up Commonwealth Games qualifying points.

But, after testing his right hand in the semi-finals of Saturday's Championships, he then came through the final in a terrific contest against Glasgow's Jack Turner.

Their bantamweight title bout was last on the card on finals night, but it was certainly worth waiting for.

"I was up at 06:00 BST just buzzing to fight, I couldn't wait," said McGregor. "I wanted to get weighed in so I could refuel and we didn't get to do that until 12:00, so it was a long wait.

"It's midnight now and I'm just out the ring, so it's been a long day, but it's been worth it. I'm delighted with the result."

McGregor, who fights out of Meadowbank Boxing Club and is on the Great Britain performance programme, sealed his second successive Scottish title and is now hoping to add another British title to his name next month.

"I think I'm among the favourites for that title," he said. "I won the Scottish last year and also won the British.

"I did the double last year and I'm looking to do the exact same. I'm completely confident of doing that."

If he does, he will almost certainly make the Scottish boxing team for the 2018 Commonwealth Games in the Gold Coast, Australia - and that's a prize others are also targeting.

Aqeel Ahmed
Aqeel Ahmed retained the men's flyweight title

Aqeel Ahmed is determined to make up for what he calls "an unsatisfactory" Glasgow 2014 and he certainly impressed as he retained his men's flyweight title.

The Keir Hardie Boxing Club fighter now goes to the British Championships in Wales hoping to do something no Scottish amateur boxer has ever done before - win three consecutive British titles.

And then, he hopes, a chance to redeem himself in the Gold Coast.

"I stayed amateur to have another go at the Commonwealth Games," Ahmed explained.

"I missed out on a medal in Glasgow and I know how much I've improved. I'll be disappointed if I don't medal in the Gold Coast and my target is quite high going to the next Games.

"My ultimate goal is a gold medal in the Gold Coast."

Aberdeenshire middleweight John Docherty claimed a sixth national title in a row and hopes to go one better at next month's British Championships after taking silver last year.

"On a good performance, on a good day, I reckon I'm the best in Britain to tell you the truth," he said.

"Last year, I performed really badly and came second, beaten on a split [decision].

"I'm definitely aiming for the gold medal and then the big aim is Australia next year.

"I've won the Youth Games. Now I want to add the senior title to that."

Stephanie Kernachan
Stephanie Kernachan (right) won the women's bantamweight title

The Commonwealth Games are also on the minds of Scotland's leading female boxers.

After winning her fourth Scottish women's bantamweight title, Stephanie Kernachan, of Cleland Boxing Club, is eager to make Scottish boxing history.

No female boxer has represented Scotland at a Commonwealth Games before.

"There's going to be a huge amount of work between now and then, so the focus is on the British and getting that title back," said Kernachan.

"But making the Gold Coast team would be huge. It's hard to put it into words.

"For me, it's the biggest thing, it's so much higher than I could have imagined.

"When I started boxing, the Scottish Championship was the highest you could get, but now the doors have been blasted wide open."

Lynn Calder, from Springhill Boxing Club, also made it four Scottish titles and the women's lightweight champion wants to get in on the history-making act.

"I've grown as a boxer as a result of the developments we've seen in women's boxing in Scotland," she said.

"It's hard work, the travel and the hours put in, but it's a complete commitment to me.

"I've dumped pretty much everything and boxing is my sole purpose and I'm just taking all the opportunities."

Also grabbing the opportunities in front of her is Glenrothes' Emma McCulloch, a former kick-boxer, who has only been boxing for two years yet has now won two Scottish titles at light flyweight.

The 25-year-old, who has taken part in recent Great Britain training camps, admits there was "a bit more pressure" at these championships because of the chance to potentially go to the Commonwealth Games.

"Obviously you want to win it, but this one was a bit extra special," she added.

"The Commonwealth Games has been on my mind since last year."

Scottish champions

Men

Super heavyweight: Mitchell Barton (The Bronx)

Heavyweight: Connal McDonald (Bravehearts)

Light heavyweight: Nathaniel Collins (Hayfield)

Middleweight: John Docherty (Byron)

Welterweight: Stephen Newns (Cleland)

Lightweight: Sean Lazzerini (Bellahouston)

Bantamweight: Lee McGregor (Meadowbank)

Flyweight: Reece McFadden (Forgewood)

Light flyweight: Aqeel Ahmed (Keir Hardie)

Light welterweight: Robbie McKechnie (Greenock)

Women

Welterweight: Gardener Moore (Lochend)

Lightweight: Lynn Calder (Springhill)

Bantamweight: Stephanie Kernachan (Cleland)

Light flyweight: Emma McCulloch (Glenrothes)

Featherweight: Efiychia Kathopouli (Glenrothes)

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