Calzaghe predicts crown for Arthur

ALEX ARTHUR found himself in exalted company yesterday when the former British super-featherweight champion from Edinburgh shared the stage with Joe Calzaghe at a press conference in the shadow of the Scott Monument.

The purpose of the gathering was to promote next month’s boxing bill at Ingliston’s 7,500- capacity Royal Highland Centre, the first in the capital to feature a world championship contest.

While Welshman Calzaghe is deemed to be the star of the show, Arthur was neither overawed nor slow to say his piece, describing the 32-year-old WBO super-middleweight champion as, in his opinion, the finest boxer Britain has produced in the past 15-20 years.

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"I have appeared on the under-card at three or four of Joe’s fights and I deem it to be an honour because he has become a legend," declared Arthur.

Calzaghe was equally effusive in his praise of Arthur, describing him as a world champion in waiting. "I have been impressed by Alex since he turned pro," declared Calzaghe. "He had a bit of a hiccup against Michael Gomez, but I believe that he will become a champion one day."

It has been a frustrating time for 26-year-old Arthur. Since losing to Gomez 11 months ago, Arthur has had only one round of competitive boxing against the hapless Michael Kizza, who lasted just 178 seconds at Meadowbank in March.

But Arthur expects a more detailed examination of his credentials when he returns to the ring to defend his IBF Intercontinental championship against Ghanaian Eric Odumasi as the principal support to Calzaghe on 22 October.

Arthur, who was forced to undergo surgery to his right knee to repair cartilage damage, also revealed that he still harbours the dream of showcasing his undoubted talents at Edinburgh Castle at a future date.

Gary Young, the undefeated Edinburgh welterweight, will also be on the card next month, endeavouring to chalk up the 11th win of his fledgling career and silence his critics in the west who claim that he lacks the status of Fife rival Kevin Anderson.

Young, beaten by Anderson three times when the pair fought as amateurs, refused to become embroiled in a war of words, stating simply: "I do not need to trash talk other fighters to spread my name. It is water off a duck’s back."

Calzaghe, meanwhile, learned that he will face Egyptian Kabary Salem in his 38th contest and the 15th defence of his world crown, the same number as Chris Eubank successfully undertook.

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Salem, it transpires, is a nasty piece of work. In addition to regularly having points deducted for using his head in an attempt to injure opponents, the 36-year-old former NABO champion gained further notoriety recently by head-butting a referee. Consequently, Calzaghe knows that he must tread warily.