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Boxing: I WAS A RIGHT BIG-HEAD 'TIL THAT GUBBING FROM GOMEZ; Laid-back Alex has new lease of life.

Byline: Anthony Haggerty

ALEX ARTHUR last night admitted he had learned a lot of lessons from his defeat to Michael Gomez last October.

The Scot will go into the ring at the same venue against Nazareno Ruiz tonight, 14 months after he lost his British super-featherweight title to Michael Gomez at the Meadowbank Sports Centre.

Arthur revealed that his ego was spiralling out of control and defeat to Gomez gave him the focus he needed to get his career back on track.

Arthur, who will defend his IBF Intercontinental crown against Argentine Ruiz, said: 'Since losing to Gomez I go into the ring with a much better mental attitude.

'That one defeat taught me so many things and it changed my life.

'I was a man in a hurry before he beat me but my goals changed after that.

'I wanted the big-money fights and the world title shots and my ego was spiralling out of control.

'I am a Christian and I think God made that defeat happen in order for me to re-invent myself as a boxer.

'I've always trained hard and when I go to the gym I go crazy. But I have people beside me who can now say calm down and stop me throwing 500 punches a round when I'm sparring'.

'I now employ a sport scientist and Britain's No.1 nutritionist, Jacqueline Boreman. I also work with Owen Smith, who was a good pro and amateur in the 1980s.

'It is little changes like that which have helped me improve.

'I have taken a step back from the gold lame suit and the dancing and all that stuff and I have an inner peace now.'

Arthur, who bounced back from his defeat by Gomez to destroy Michael Kizza in 178 seconds last March and followed up by retiring Eric Odumasi at the end of the sixth round five weeks ago, has to stay focused on Ruiz.

With the promise of a world title shot in Edinburgh next year, he can't afford any slip-ups.

Arthur added: 'I am taking on a guy that a lot of people refused to fight in the UK.

'He is a horrible guy to fight and is very tricky. I am not expecting it to be a pretty fight.

'I am not expecting to look brilliant and I can bite, scratch and pull hair with the best of them.

'The guy is technically gifted and knows how to take punches. He has a higher world ranking than me and I know this is a big risk.

'I do not expect to knock him out but I'd like to think I can hit him on the chin and see him drop like a sack of tatties.'

There was slight drama at the weigh-in in Edinburgh yesterday when Arthur comfortably tipped the scales at 9 stone 3Ibs and 14 oz but Ruiz only made the same weight at the the third attempt.

CAPTION(S):

CRUNCH CONTEST: Alex Arthur, right, knows he must beat tricky Argentine Ruiz if he's to get a shot at the world title
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Dec 3, 2004
Words:514
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