Boxing: Sternest test of Arthur's defence
Saturday 29 April 2006
Tonight at the Meadowbank Arena, Alex Arthur will try to defend his European super-featherweight title for the second time in arguably one of the most competitive fights to take place in Britain for years.
Arthur has been forced to meet unbeaten Sergey Gulyakevich from Belarus by the European Boxing Union in a fight that would ruin the Scotsman's world title ambitions if he loses.
Gulyakevich is unbeaten in 18 fights and he has stopped or knocked out his last four opponents in a quartet of stunning wins that looked likely to put an end to any chance of Arthur agreeing to meet him. However, Arthur and his promoter Frank Warren have agreed to go ahead with a fight that cynics thought would never happen.
"Alex has always been a very honest person and that means that he likes to do things the old-fashioned way and that is why he is meeting his mandatory challenger," said Warren, who is only too aware of the dangers of losing and dropping from the world rankings of the sport's various sanctioning bodies.
If Arthur can find his range and avoid getting clipped on the chin, then there is a chance that he will take control of the fight and make the powerful challenger start to look extremely ordinary, something that often happens when boxers from the former Soviet Bloc step up in class and meet fighters who can move.
"It's sometimes just the case of who has got the biggest chin," Arthur said. "But I've had nearly as many knock-outs as he has had fights so his punch power doesn't concern me in the slightest."
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