Boxing: 'Wild child' Gomez set to test Arthur's mettle

There hasn't been a decent scrap in Edinburgh since William Wallace did his fling, and the one due to be enacted at Meadowbank Arena on Saturday night might have been better scripted as a piece of genuine theatre at the annual festival. It features an undefeated, fierce-punching, tough-talking champion who is one of boxing's Braveheart breed, and a challenger who seems to have stepped from the wings of West Side Story, though in his case it is more like Moss Side Story.

They are saying that when Alex Arthur makes a home-town defence of his British super-featherweight title against Manchester's Michael Gomez, the self-confessed wild child of the ring who was once on a murder rap, it could be the fight of the year. It is certainly one that has been talked about for some time and now that promoter Frank Warren has finally managed to get it on, he believes Edinburgh and Sky viewers will witness "another Benn-Eubank between two out and out warriors."

It has been sold out for weeks, hardly surprising as the venue holds only 3,600. Three times as many clamoured for tickets, not only in support of a Scot who surely will follow Ken Buchanan (who never fought in Edinburgh) to world championship status but intrigued by an opponent who is coming back from the dead - almost literally so.

Many things have happened in the 26 years of Gomez's troubled existence, not least when his heart stopped beating on the operating table a few years back after he had been stabbed in a brawl. For 48 seconds he was technically dead, but he recovered to make a decision to change a wayward lifestyle that had seen him behaving in civvies more like a footballer than a fighter - clubbing and carousing. Indeed, much worse.

Born Michael Armstrong on the back seat of a car which had crashed when taking his heavily pregnant mother to hospital in Ireland - he took his ring name from his favourite fighter, Wilfredo Gomez - he was brought up in a children's home when his itinerant parents split after moving to Manchester.

A life of petty crime followed, and shortly after starting his boxing career, in which he lost three of his first five fights, Gomez, then a father at 17, was involved in an incident in a Manchester nightclub where a man lost his life. Gomez was charged with murder, eventually tried for manslaughter, and acquitted.

He resumed boxing and, cheered on by hordes of sombrero-wearing Mancunians, was hailed as one of the world's brightest young prospects, being compared even to Barry McGuigan.

But after winning the British super-featherweight title now held by Arthur, in his own words Gomez "went off the rails big-time." It was mainly drink-driven and culminated in that near-loss of his life.

He says: "I lost my way, and it was all down to my own stupidity. I decided it was time to grow up and start using my common sense. That's why I really mean it when I say I don't want to blow this chance. It's my last throw of the dice. The wild child is still there inside me, but now I'm determined it will come out only in the ring."

Arthur, 25, is on a roll of inside-the-distance victories (14 out of 16 bouts), largely brought about by the sort of rib-crunching body punching rarely seen from modern practitioners. He says of Gomez: "He is the sort of fighter I like to watch. His is an exciting, come-forward style and I can't wait to get in the ring with him. There have been a few verbals between us but we've obviously got respect for each other because we're striving for the same thing. He wants what I've got and I want to keep it. That's where the passion comes in."

Arthur will have to do without his new trainer, Freddie Roach, with whom he has been working in the US, as the American, Mike Tyson's chief cornerman, has a contractual commitment with another fighter. But he reckons he is super-confident "because that's my nature".

Equally he is aware of what happened to Scott Harrison, another Tartan titan, who was as much a favourite going into his recent fight with Manuel Medina as Arthur himself is against Gomez. "I think Scott underestimated Medina. I'm not making the same mistake."

Observers say that the re-born Gomez has never looked fitter. If his mind is as right as his body, it could be a torrid night, especially as Arthur's too-frequently exposed chin has yet to be tested. Gomez threatens to do just that.

"This fight is not so much about regaining my old title but my self-respect. If I lose I will retire, because there's nowhere for me to go."

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all