Boxing: Arthur a new box-office hit

Warren's stable of champions can help ITV revive the sport on terrestrial

Amir Khan, who led the commercial breakthrough in Bolton last night, is destined to be one of them, alongside the world champions Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe, but by this time next week there might be another. Alex Arthur is already a star in Scotland, and according to his promoter, Frank Warren, "he could be huge in Britain and make his mark on the world stage. Not only can he fight, but he has the confidence and personality to go with it."

That's exactly what ITV are looking for to justify a two-year investment made on the back of Amir's Olympic silver medal. After televising Amir's pro debut alongside Matt Skelton's defence of the British heavyweight title last night, the Big Fight Live cameras move to Edinburgh's Meadowbank next Saturday, where the 24-year-old Arthur plans to add the European super-featherweight title to his British and Commonwealth belts by challenging the Russian champion, Boris Sinitsin.

There is no doubt that Arthur has what it takes, but he had to take it to prove it. That confidence Warren talks about has had to be restored following a shattering defeat, the only one in his 21-fight career, when he stuck out his chin to Michael Gomez and was blitzed in five rounds.

The lesson was learnt and Arthur's rehabilitation has been swift. He is a ferocious puncher, notably to the body, and is unquestionably the most exciting fighter Scotland has produced for decades. If successful against Sinitsin, a seasoned old pro of 34 with a useful record of 46 wins in 54 fights, he will become the first Scot since Jackie Paterson in 1946 to hold three titles simultaneously, and the first-ever Scottish super-featherweight champion. Moreover, this is the first European title fight in the Scottish capital in 77 years.

So Arthur senses history, and he says he has been promised a Hatton-style mega world title fight if he delivers. "Fighting for a world title is my destiny," he says.

Twenty-one months and five fights ago that may have sounded like a discordant bellow of the bagpipes, but subsequent performances, culminating in a crushing conquest of his compatriot Craig Docherty (whom Sinit-sin, now 10 months out of the ring, had laboured to beat by a split decision) have reaffirmed Arthur's ambitions. "Losing like that to Gomez was the worst experience I've had," he says. "But I'm glad I've had it and got it out of the way. It was a one-off. I don't see a return happening because our careers have gone in different directions since."

In some ways Arthur is a throwback. His progress has been modelled the old-fashioned way: an outstanding amateur apprenticeship with a Commonwealth Games gold medal; then fighting progressively as a pro for British, Commonwealth and now European titles. "That's the kind of way the hardcore boxing fan likes you to do things," he says.

Like others in Warren's firmament, he has been a Sky fighter until now. "They did well for me but not everyone has Sky, while everyone has ITV. They'll all be watching, from grannies to young kids. For boxing, this is as a big as London getting the Olympics."

Naturally, Warren concurs, so does this new deal mean it will be easier to bring world title fights to Britain? "Not really, because at the end of the day it is still down to me to make the matches," Warren says. "But we've proved we can do it on Sky, so there is no reason why we shouldn't now we're back on terrestrial TV.

"But it's not as if boxing went away from terrestrial TV. After all, BBC spent a lot of money on it, though you have to question whether they spent it wisely. Audley Harrison was a complete screw-up. For me the challenge now is to show what can be done when you go about things the right way.

"We have some excellent fighters around, like Ricky, Joe and Amir. I put Alex among them. The Olympics is the start of a new era for British sport and this TV deal will do the same for British boxing. There is a huge audience."

Just to show they are not completely out of the picture, Sky have announced their own package of upcoming fights, beginning this morning with the Bernard Hopkins-Jermaine Taylor world middleweight title fight, plus Howard Eastman v Arthur Abraham; on 7 August Jeff Lacy v Robin Reid; and Clinton Woods' IBF light-heavyweight title defence against Julio Gonzalez on 9 September. Seconds out.

peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistant - Accounts Payable - St. Albans

£26000 - £28000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Senior Accounts Assistan...

Ashdown Group: Treasury Assistant - Accounts Assistant - London, Old Street

£24000 - £26000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Recruitment Genius: Installation and Service / Security Engineer

£22000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is part of a Group...

Recruitment Genius: Service Charge Accounts Assistant

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a a young, dynamic pers...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions