By Shaun Brown
When talking to Alex Arthur I couldn’t help but get an image of the hitchhiker looking to get a lift into the Promised Land. Passers by take a glance, smile and then realise who it is and speed on past. The former world champion may be ready for one last tilt at the big time but no one is signing up for it quite yet.
At 34-years-old and sitting in the 140lb division Arthur is certainly talking the right game as well as looking the healthiest and strongest that he has arguably ever been. But with the offers of fights slim and none the Scot is ready to take matters into his own hands.
“I’ve spoken to the British Boxing board about nominating myself as the challenger for the winner of the Darren Hamilton-Steve Williams British title fight,” said Arthur when speaking to BoxingScene. “I’ve already won a British title, but if it’s the only way I’m going to get back in the game then so be it. As a challenger I’ve never actually lost a challenge for a title and that would certainly continue against either of those guys. I’m hoping that the board can see the situation that I’m in and can see that I’ve been on the bench for a while. I may even take myself down south to be ringside for that fight.”
In a 12-year professional career Arthur has achieved all that one can on the British and European boxing scene. There is a shared feeling in the sport that the boat may have been missed on the world scene. In defeating Kobo Gogoladze and Stephen Foster Jr. in 2007 the Edinburgh native became the interim WBO super featherweight champion. The slick craftsman’s time had arrived. Joan Guzman was the fight that would propel him to the next level. But as we have learned in the five years that have passed the words debacle and Joan Guzman go hand in hand.
After postponements and visa issues ended a potential career defining fight for the Scot, Arthur was then elevated to world champion status. He would make his first defence against England’s Nicky Cook. That night in Manchester four years ago began a period of darker days for him. A combination of weight difficulties, the Guzman mess and unfulfilled promises would lead to Arthur losing his crown.
“Before I fought Cook I knew I was going to lose. The guys in sparring were playing with me. If you speak to a young man called Jason Hastie [two defeats in eleven fights at various weights] even he will tell you he was battering me from pillar to post,” he recalled.
“Everyone knows I’ve had a horrendous time making weight in the past. I had 11lbs to lose in a week before the Foster fight. Three days before that fight I was stripped to the bone. After I beat him I wanted that to be my last fight at super-featherweight but certain people persuaded me to keep a hold of that title telling me they were going to get me a big fight. I waited and waited and nothing happened. Then before you know it I’m defending my title against someone from the same stable!
“Normally, Nicky Cook wouldn’t beat me in the month of Sundays because he’s simply not in my league, so when he did beat me I was really embarrassed,” Arthur confessed.
A unanimous decision loss to Cook and a horrendous points loss to Nigel Wright 18-months later put Arthur’s career firmly on the ropes. Another defeat and time would be called. The birth of his own promotional company, AAA Promotions, meant that the final chapter could be penned by him and no one else.
Four solid wins on the bounce have rekindled the flame inside him but the names of Peter McDonagh, Jay Morris, Aleksander Vakhtangashvili and Michael Frontin are not going to cause tremors in the sport. If needs be, he and his promotional outfit are prepared to bring a big name to Edinburgh but the added stress for Arthur and his family is not particularly welcomed. Yet the requirement of a big sponsor to pull off any sort of coup most certainly is. With a few stints working as a Sky Sports pundit some doors have been left ajar, but not fully opened.
“I spoke with Eddie Hearn about fighting Paul McCloskey later in the year and after the chat I began training for it because it went so well. I was aiming towards something but then they came back to me telling me that Paul doesn’t want it.
“I was in the running to fight in America against one of their leading contenders but I really need 10-12 weeks notice to prepare and I’m not going to jeopardise my health by taking one at short notice.”
“Ricky Hatton was keen to do a show with us getting some of his boys on the bill as well. He then went on holiday and I’ve never heard back from him! My phone’s open for calls. I can work with anyone and will work with anyone”, he insisted.
With a retirement date of June 2013 been set for some time now, the clock is ticking. Behind closed doors, friends, family and sparring partners can all see what is left in the locker. And in the story of a fighter there is always the tale of one last shot. All Alex Arthur wants is his.
Twitter @shaun_brownTags: Alex Arthur