Dave Oakes previews this Saturday's British super-bantamweight title clash between champion Scott Quigg and challenger Jamie Arthur.
Carl Frampton impressed when defending his Commonwealth title for the first time last weekend. This Saturday his main domestic rival makes the first defence of his British title and he’ll be desperate for an impressive display to remind people why he’s regarded as the hottest young talent in the super-bantamweight division.
Scott Quigg is rightly considered the number one boxer in the division ahead of Frampton but he knows his Belfast foe isn’t far behind him and has been grabbing the headlines recently. Their burgeoning rivalry is great for boxing in Britain, and a future meeting between them could be massive if it’s given the correct time to build-up.
It has to be said there are plenty of interesting match-ups to be made in a division packed with talent; fighters like Rendall Munroe, Jason Booth, John Simpson, Ryan Walsh, Willie Casey and Alexei Collado are all in the mix. I’d leave the Frampton/Quigg fight for 18 months, both of them will be better for three or four more hard fights before facing each other in what could then be an eliminator for a world title.
Before we get carried away with world title talk, which in truth both are still a level away from at the minute, Quigg must first come through a potentially tough test against Jamie Arthur. The former Commonwealth title holder is a tenacious fighter, he may be coming off a year long absence but he always keeps himself in shape and has courage in abundance.
Arthur, 18-5 (4), has been stopped twice, the first time was on cuts against Haider Ali, the second was a shocking fifth round stoppage defeat to Harry Ramogoadi, Arthur retiring in the aftermath. Nearly three years later Arthur returned and went on a winning run of seven fights before losing on points to Martin Lindsay for the British title at featherweight.
Not deterred by the defeat, Arthur secured a shot at the Commonwealth super-bantamweight title after participating in the Prizefighter tournament – being a losing semi-finalist in the pub knockout of boxing. Whilst his title fight with Kris Hughes wasn’t the prettiest, he used his experience and doggedness to win a close but comfortable decision.
Unfortunately for Arthur, he lost the title on a split decision against Jason Booth in his first defence. Arthur hasn’t fought since that fight, going into semi-retirement, but the chance to fight the hottest prospect in Britain for the British title proved too hard for the proud Welshman to resist.
Quigg, 23-0 (16), has had to deal with the pressure of being labelled as a future superstar since the early stage of his career. He’s done magnificently to keep himself grounded and focused thus far but expectations of him are only going increase as he continues his irrepressible rise. There’s no doubt that if Quigg keeps improving like he has done, and copes with the pressure like he has, he could very well be the next big fighter from Britain.
His destruction of Jason Booth to win the title last October was remarkable not just because of the outcome – being only the second boxer to stop Booth - but the manner and style in which it was achieved. Despite having big size and strength advantages over Booth, Quigg used his boxing skills more than he’d done in any of his previous bouts. His timing was impeccable; he beat Booth to the punch every time, always knew when to take a half step forward or back and patiently picked Booth apart.
It was a mature performance against a boxer who has been one of the best in Britain for a number of years. It could be argued that Booth was/is past his best but that’s no fault of Quigg’s - he did everything correctly and even surpassed most peoples expectations in the fight.
Arthur has slight height and reach advantages over Quigg, though Quigg is the much more powerful physically and in terms of punch power. Quigg is also the fresher fighter and looks to be the hungrier - Arthur’s coquetry with retirement may be a sign that he’s not as ambitious as he once was, although we won’t be able to tell until fight night.
If Arthur still has the desire to become a champion, he could put up a sterling effort, even if it’s most likely to be in vain. If Arthur doesn’t have the fire in his belly, Quigg could steam roll him. One senses it could be somewhere between the two, Arthur giving it a go in the first four rounds but going into his shell as he realises the monumental task in front of him. Arthur will put in a brave effort but Quigg will take him places he doesn’t want to be, forcing a stoppage from either the referee or Arthur’s corner around the ninth round.