FOR months boxing pundits had been predicting that Lee McGregor versus Kash Farooq would be an all-Scots fight for the ages. They weren’t wrong.

This was a thrilling, dramatic bantamweight bout inside the Emirates Arena that lived up to the hype and beyond it. It was enthralling, it was bloody and it was brilliant. You couldn’t take your eyes off it for a second.

It was virtually impossible to separate them after 12 gruelling rounds but the judges somehow found a way. It was a split decision but it went McGregor’s way.

One judge scored it 114-113 to Farooq with another giving the same marks to McGregor. But the casting and all-important vote went to the man from Edinburgh. He and his team erupted in ecstasy, with McGregor sinking to his knees in both exhaustion and delirium.

To his own Commonwealth title he now adds Farooq’s British belt, while extending his record to 8-0. The plucky Farooq picks up the first loss of a hitherto stellar career but nobody could accuse him of not leaving it all in the ring.

McGregor made a strong first impression, landing a couple of big shots in the opening round against his smaller and stockier opponent.

The Edinburgh fighter was warned for pushing Farooq across the ring in the second before the Pakistan-born boxer started to get a foothold in the contest. Farooq started to match his terrific movement with a number of combinations, including a remarkable five sharp jabs in succession to the side of McGregor’s head.

The Glasgow fighter continued to dominate through round three, with a thudding left evidently catching his opponent flush.

It was all unfolding at a relentless pace and the damage done was starting to show on both fighters’ faces, with McGregor sporting a bruise above his right eye and Farooq showing signs of a cut under his eye.

Farooq started to gain some joy with shots to the body that winded McGregor but neither man was of a mind to slow down as they stood and traded shots as if their lives depended on it. It was exhausting just watching.

McGregor sensed an opportunity in the seventh round when he caught Farooq with a juddering left and then looked to capitalise. The Edinburgh man swung away willingly for the remainder of the round, with only Farooq’s impeccable reflexes saving him from a potential stoppage.

It did not need extra drama but we got it anyway. As McGregor sat on his stool at the end of the eighth round, an intruder worked his way to the ring, seemingly to impart some advice. He was quickly removed, starting another fight deep inside the arena that required police intervention.

When the ninth got underway, two sets of lights temporarily plunging the ring into partial darkness. The two protagonists ploughed on regardless, with McGregor sending his opponent right through the ropes and on to the front row of the crowd.

The Edinburgh man was deducted a point in the 10th for another push but looked the stronger as the fight approached its denouement, with Farooq wobbling in the 12th after another thumping McGregor shot.

The judges felt he had done enough to deserve it but it was undeniably close. A rematch at some point surely won’t be out of the question. We can only hope it is even half as good as this.

Meanwhile, Kieran Smith’s reward for his patient pursuit of Vincenzo Bevilacqua was the retention of his WBC International Silver super-welterweight belt.

The Greenrigg boxer tried manfully to break down 10 rounds of stoic Italian resistance, with Bevilacqua not showing even a semblance of ambition until it was too late to salvage the fight.

The judges thought so too, with Smith earning a well-deserved unanimous decision. Two scored it 98-92 with the other making it an even wider margin, 99-91.