Cwmbran’s Jamie Arthur bagged the vacant Commonwealth super-bantamweight title on Saturday night after a seemingly controversial unanimous points decision over Bellshill’s Kris Hughes at East London’s Troxy in which he was deducted points for low blows in the rounds five and eleven.
Arthur (right, image copyright Leigh Dawney Photography) now 18-4 (4) enjoys helping others outside the ring, by giving a percentage of each purse to a charity and visits schools for confidence building talks with pupils and the three judges appeared to have shown him similar charity in a dire and untidy affair.
As the two combatants and near on 1,000 crowd heard the verdict there was a sigh among the stunned crowd and even Arthur himself appeared surprised yet glad with the result.
It represents a great comeback for a man who could have quite easily retired with the ‘unfulfilled and wasted potential' tag.
The 30-year-old turned professional in 2003 after capturing gold at the 2002 Commonwealth Games but two consecutive defeats in 2005 were followed by nearly three years inactivity.
He returned in 2008 and seven straight victories saw him secure a British featherweight title shot where he lost to Martin Lindsay in March before taking part in May’s super-bantamweight Prizefighter.
Scottish Southpaw Hughes 13-1 (1) in his fourth year as a paid puncher had only been past six rounds on one occasion but showed no signs of struggling to go 12.
Arthur (8st 9lbs 12oz) took the fight to his younger counterpart Hughes (8st 8lbs 120z) and did press the affair throughout, which probably caught the judges' eyes but for me his work didn’t seem clinical enough to warrant tallies of 114 -112 (twice) and 114-113 as I watched from ringside.
In fairness to judges Mark Greene, Howard Foster and John Keane they had a difficult task to both score and stay awake and as I now look at my notepad, Hughes scoring shots were also seldom so in hindsight and not from ringside the decision is sitting a little more comfortable with me this morning.
Hughes packed the stiffer shots which had Arthur’s head rocking back on several occasions and Arthur also had a nasty looking cut above his left eye to contend with, but sensibly left that job to the brilliant Mick Williamson who patches up the holes better than polyfilla.
It was the spirit of the contest rather than the spectacle that caught my eye. Arthur was often smiling and even had the cheek to apologise when he played foul.
In the fourth round Hughes turned his back and was caught in the process, causing referee Phil Edwards to sharply rebuke him for breaking the natural laws of boxing in protecting yourself at all times.
After Arthur was deducted his first point in the fifth, Edwards warned “Keep doing it and you know what will happen.”
Arthur bore the cheeky face of a naughty school boy and he decided to test the teacher’s word in the ninth but found the master merciful in allowing him to play (or carry on).
My summary of Arthur’s assignment was ‘pressing but messy not scoring’ or so I thought at the time, but my round ten assessment was ‘Arthur pressing fight, connecting more'.
Had Hughes assumed the front position and not been content to trust he was scoring from his slow paced and distanced pose he would be looking at his belt this morning.
Instead he could be looking at the replay and kicking himself for what might have been.
With sincere honesty I greatly challenge my original score of 117-111 for Hughes, and admit maybe I was a little harsh on Arthur who will no doubt relate to that given his younger days.
It is hard to imagine the likeable and well supported Arthur was once the victim of bullying who didn’t even have the confidence to enter a boxing gym, but fortunately for him a boxer running late for his session saw him standing in the dark and invited him in.
The manner of his performance didn’t quite set the world alight but for me Arthur reflects a personality that brightens up your day.
I think I’ll call him the ‘cheeky champion.’
Former holder Jason Booth stands by ready and waiting to challenge him in the new-year.
Jamie and Jason - there’s a pair of characters.