Boxing


Alex Arthur - Can He Cut It With The Big Boys?

26.06.06 - By Ronnie McCluskey: Alex Arthur, the solid and indeed huge super-featherweight from Edinburgh, Scotland is gunning for a shot at those residing in the business end of the division, perhaps later in the year. Arthur, now with a very respectable record of 23 wins, with only 1 blemish, is someone who craves international recognition. Now is the time, he seems to be saying, with his steady, sometimes brilliant rebuilding project he launched immediately following his crushing 2003 loss to Michael Gomez, in a fight which was instantly dubbed a mini-classic in Britain.

That war cost Arthur his coveted British super-featherweight title, but also his ego. Prior to that epic Anglo-Scottish confrontation Arthur had been brash, cocky, and quite frankly arrogant. The knock-out defeat humbled him, and prompted him to rediscover his faith – he now puts his trust in God. He also dropped the ‘Amazing’ moniker he had once cherished, and enters the ring to Kanye West’s spiritual ‘Jesus Walks’.

All that aside of course, the big question on most British fight fans and perhaps some wider aficionado’s lips is; Can Arthur cut it at world level? There’s no easy answer. We have seen countless times that the bridge between domestic level and world level is a tricky path to negotiate. Damian Kelly came up short a few years ago against IBF flyweight king Irene Pacheco. Howard Eastman has faltered as he has stepped up the competition. Danny Williams. Will Arthur follow in the footsteps of the Joe Calzaghe’s and Ricky Hatton’s, to sit at the top of the international ladder?

The outlook is certainly good. He has mopped up all domestic honours with a feverish appetite. First came his recapture of the British title, which Gomez had dropped. Then Arthur beat ex-Commonwealth Games team-mate and friend Craig Docherty, to pick up the Commonwealth strap. And since summer last year, he has been perched on the top of the European scale, after outboxing rugged Russian veteran Boris Sinitsin over twelve rounds.

These names may not ring bells with our stateside counterparts, but the fact is they were good fighters and good tests for the Edinburgh man. There is certainly no super-featherweight in Britain or indeed Europe that you can say he has ducked. His methodical progress has, in fact, been perfect – no hitches as yet. To underline his attentions, Alex also recently relinquished his British title, effectively stating that he was tired of fighting lower-tier countrymen and wanted a defining fight.

With a promoter like Frank Warren on your team, Arthur’s outfit, now spearheaded by former bantamweight king Wayne McCullough, must feel optimistic. Warren secured Kostya Tszyu for Ricky Hatton in the latter’s backyard last year and also delivered Jeff Lacy to Joe Calzaghe, like a sacrificial lamb. If anyone can do it it’s Frank and his Sports Network flagship. And having become a complete, patient champion, Arthur has deserved an opportunity.

So, let’s look at prospective opponents for the Brit. We have four legitimate ‘world’ champions at present, sitting at 130Lbs. They are Jorge Barrios (WBO), Marco Antonio Barrera (WBC), Cassius Baloyi (IBF) and Vicente Mosquera (WBA). Now, looking at this list, it is obvious who Arthur would rather avoid. Mexican marvel Marco Antonio Barrera is not only a three-weight world champion, but he is also a pound-for-pounder and has triple the experience the Scot has had. For my money, Arthur wouldn’t much mind who of the other three he went in with.

Baloyi was lucky to get past ageing natural featherweight Manuel Medina last month, and aside from that fight hasn’t mixed in top class. Neither of course has Mosquera, though the Panamian is unbeaten in six years. Lastly, there is Jorge Barrios, perhaps best known to the wider boxing fraternity for his blood-soaked twelve-round battle with Acelino ‘Popo’ Freitas in 2003. Like Arthur he lost the war, but came back to rebuild, and sensationally knock out unbeaten Mike Anchondo last year. He’s rugged, strong, determined, and carries power in both hands. Could well be a tough draw for Arthur; the Buenas Aires man seems to fit the mould of Mancunian Mike Gomez.

Either way, Alex Arthur has proven in the last three years that he is a very good fighter. He has boxing ability, he has strength, and no one can question his heart. And with seven good wins since his first and only loss, now is the time to capitalise. I imagine, considering Warren’s style, that the promoter would like to put Alex in with Barrios – someone in short who has flaws, and would propel his man into the real upper echelons of the division.

Alas; who knows? What we can be sure of is that Alex Arthur, the European and Commonwealth champion, is ready. Are the rest of the division?

Article posted on 27.06.2006



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