Remembered as one of the most thrilling domestic clashes in British Boxing history, Scotland’s Alex Arthur and Anglo-Irish (with a bit of Mexican thrown in for good luck) Michael Gomez went to war in Edinburgh in 2003.
Fighting for the British and WBA International super featherweight titles, the two fighters were at two different stages in their career. Arthur was regarded as a bright young prospect with a 16 and 0 record with all but one coming by way of knockout. Arthur had already won the British Super-Featherweight title, as well as the intercontinental versions of the WBA, IBF and WBO belts and was being fast-tracked to world title level.
Gomez was considered as a well-seasoned, but perhaps worn, veteran owning a record of 28 and 5. Once challenging for the WBU belt, Gomez had a much more uneven boxing career and outside the ring was guilty of various drink driving offences.
Additionally, he fell victim to a stabbing in a street fight leading to his promotion and supporters abandoning him. Many at ringside on the evening including Barry Mcguigan and Scotland’s finest boxing hero, Ken Buchannan gave Gomez virtually no chance of success.
The lead up to the bout was fraught with tension and sincere animosity. Like so many domestic clashes in Britain, the fans were stoked into a flame of intense bipartisanship. Promotion and media worked overtime to stimulate the cultural divide. Playing on Scottish and English rivalries (ignoring Gomez’s Irish heritage), ancient battle lines remerged. Historical conflicts would be replayed and the skirmish inside the squared circle would be symbolic of confrontations old.
Gomez, coiled like a cobra struck first, fast and hard, landing a left hook shadowed up by a right which crumpled the Scot. The confidence vanished from the champions face as he tightened up to protect himself. Closing every available exit, Gomez cut off the ring forcing Arthur to absorb damage all the way through round one.
After a stern talking to in the corner, Arthur came back stronger. Still on the backfoot, he was slipping through the cracks Gomez left open for him to side-line through and jab the slower man on the move. The slipping motion of Arthur was now going in tandem with Gomez’s assault and the jab was landing with ease.
Round three continued this way and it would be the jab which would gouge a cut into Gomez. The blood lusted Arthur viewed this as a sign to go in at Gomez, now moving forwards instead of backwards. However, Gomez now recaptured some of his success, hooking to the body and head at the easier to catch Arthur. Arthur again looked unsteady on his feet as he did in round one.
Round four opened with more imbued confidence from Arthur who wanted to hurt Gomez back. But for every quality shot he landed it was Gomez who seemed to land with double the putative effect. Arthur’s legs acted like jelly but still fought back bravely as the crowd screamed. It was now Arthur who looked bloodied as he flumped down on his stool.
Round five featured more brutalisation from Gomez. His adoptive last name came from Wilfredo Gomez, the Mexican boxing legend, and he fought with the same animalistic intensity. Hammering his opponent, the pugilistic intent was severe- he wanted rid of him. Arthur summoned his remaining strength to unload a devilish hook to Gomez’s body which doubled him over. The glimpse of a comeback was soon overshadowed by another assault from Gomez, ending in a left hook that dropped the champion.
Rising to his feet twice more courageously, Arthur was stopped by the referee mercifully. It was clear to all at ringside that tremendous damage had been done to the valiant Arthur.