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Old 08-25-2009, 01:13 PM
NigelBenn
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Default Arthur admits Commonwealth burden

By Peter Shuttleworth

"Jamie Arthur says his Commonwealth gold medal proved to be a "millstone around his neck" when he first turned professional six years ago.

The returning Welsh featherweight, 2002 Commonwealth Games champion, is now next in line for a British title shot against champion Martin Lindsay.

Arthur is unbeaten since his comeback in 2008 and beat highly-rated Akaash Bhatia in the British title eliminator.

"When I retired, I knew I hadn't reached my potential," said Arthur.

He was the first Welshman since Howard Winstone in 1958 to win a Commonwealth boxing crown when he won the lightweight division in Manchester in 2002.

The golden boy turned professional a year later in a blaze of publicity, fighting on many high-profile bills of then stable-mate Joe Calzaghe's undercards and won his first nine professional fights.

But Arthur struggled to adapt to the professional game and retired in the wake of back-to-back knockouts in 2005 by Haider Ali and Harry Ramogoadi.

The Cwmbran fighter returned to the ring three years later to beat Ayittey Mettle in April 2008.

"When I turned pro, my Commonwealth gold medal was like a millstone around my neck," Arthur told BBC Sport Wales.

Jamie Arthur enjoys his Commonwealth win
"When I won the Commonwealth gold I was 22 and still a kid. I was immature and I wasn't taking the game as seriously as I am now

"I was chucked straight into the limelight with a big promoter and being on television, I had a lot of pressure and that expectation weighed me down - it was hard to carry.

"I had the pressure of people patting me on the back and saying how good I was going to be.

"There was a pressure to knock opponents out and really shine. There was also the pressure of people criticising my every move. But I don't have that burden this time."

The 29-year-old added: "On my comeback I have fought in small hall shows and have learned my trade properly. Also I prefer to be the underdog, people now want to write me off and that suits me fine.

"The pressure will return if I fight for a British title but I'm 29-years-old now and I'm more mature both as a boxer and as a person. I can handle things better.

"When I won the Commonwealth gold I was 22 and still a kid. While I had a great time first time around, I was immature and I wasn't taking the game as seriously as I am now.

"Now I want to I want to see how good I can be. don't want to be another journeyman, I now want to win titles. I'm not interested in fighting six-rounders as there is not a great deal of money in boxing.

"Coming back was a huge gamble and financially it is a struggle for me and my family.

"But when I'm old and grey I don't want to think I had 20 years of being punched in the head but won nothing. I don't want to have any 'what ifs?'

"I'm already riding out my second chance and if I lose my next fight it could be my boxing career over."

Arthur, now trained by former Commonwealth and British light-heavyweight champion Eddie Avoth, has quit his refrigeration and personal training businesses to concentrate on boxing full-time.

He has won five of his six fights on points, including the British title eliminator against the much-fancied and previously unbeaten Bhatia.

Now Arthur hopes to secure a domestic title shot against unbeaten 27-year-old Ulsterman Lindsay.

"I'm only number five in the British rankings, though, so hopefully he might see me as an easy option," stated Arthur. "

Would like to see a fight with Lindsay. I had hoped there would have been a rematch between Lindsay-Appleby, but Appleby is fighting for the European title in Ukraine to face Oleg Yefimovych in October and Lindsay I think won't fight until the end of the year.
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