Boxing is a cruel enough sport for fighters without crass sniping from commentators like me but the news Alex Arthur has been awarded full world champion status by the WBO left a sour taste. I’m sure it did for Arthur too, a proud fighter and one who, publicly at least, yearned for a shot at the genuine big time. Not the pretend big time, but the real, genuine big time. His proposed fight with now abdicated champion Joan Guzman would have been just such an opportunity.
As a contest, it was always on shifting sands. From the moment Arthur beat Gogoladze to become Interim champion and simultaneously become Guzman’s mandatory precious few observers expected the Dominican champion to fulfil his obligation preferring, ‘they’ assumed, to pursue the money matches at Lightweight. Not that money is Guzman’s only enticement to move up from Super-Feather, making the weight has, once again, been an issue too.
In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Guzman was in Ricky Hatton’s weight class before too long. The enigmatic fighter is certainly a promoters’ nightmare – or so it would appear – long sabbaticals, injuries and issues regarding weight have been ever present in his pro career and a cloud of confusion is always drifting above. It will be a shame if Guzman’s obvious talent is never showcased properly, the clock is ticking on his career too. Despite demonstrating fabulous ability in lower key fights, in fact he’s arguably one of boxing’s best kept secrets relative to his potential, he needs to get moving before his prime wanes. Guzman’s adaptable, boxer-puncher style would certainly offer stern challenge to the likes of Manny Pacquiao if the fight could be made.
For Arthur, congratulations, diluted achievement for the Scotsman but one would hope he will be able to fulfil his own obligation to the weight class – making 130 pounds is no easy task for the new WBO world champion either. He will no doubt be encouraged by the potential paydays at the weight despite the departure of the stellar talents that illuminated the division recently. Casamayor, Barrera, Marquez, Guzman, Pacquiao and Morales no longer feature and a predictable diet of domestic or outgunned international imports strikes me as the most likely outcome.
Though Setanta Sport, who cover the Sports Network stable from which Arthur fights, will extend the same latitude afforded to previous WBO champions during SKY Sports era.