BRITISH champion Scott Quigg came through the toughest test of his professional career, getting up off the canvas at the Reebok to beat Jamie Arthur in the first defence of his super bantamweight title.
The 23-year-old Bury boxer was forced to take a standing count in the fourth round after being stunned by an Arthur left hook on Saturday night.
But the unbeaten local hero recovered to stop the former Commonwealth champion with a savage body blow in the eighth.
The decision taken by referee Mark Green to controversially step in and stop the bout after Quigg’s low left hook spun his opponent around, divided opinion.
He ruled that Arthur was unable to defend himself after dropping his guard, but the young champion looked sheepish as the result was officially announced and was quick to offer the challenger another shot.
“The decision to stop the fight is up to the ref,”
said Quigg. “Arthur turned his back on me and the ref thought he had had enough.
“We will have to sit down and see where we go from here, but I’ve offered to give him a rematch.”
Arthur, who had lost five of his previous 23 fights, didn’t seem overly enthusiastic about the offer after taking some heavy punishment near the end of the fight. But he was adamant the referee made the wrong decision.
“I could have continued,”
he said. “I was off balance. I was trying to get the wind back in me.
It was a good body punch from Quigg, but I’m disappointed. You can’t convince me how a stoppage can come from that.”
Quigg was hot favourite going into the fight, but his 100 per cent win record in his 23-fight professional career looked to be in serious jeopardy after he hit the canvas.
Arthur, who at 32 years of age was thought to be past his best, had had the better of the cagey opening rounds and seemed to smell blood after he rocked Quigg with a fierce left hook.
The British champion was definitely rattled, but showed for the first time that he could take a punch and went on to regain his composure, dodging the Arthur onslaught to end the round back on top.
Quigg seemed to start the bout determined to show he could control a fight from the back foot, tactics that ringside expert, and former British light middleweight champion Jamie Moore criticised after the fight.
But the knockdown forced him to come out of his shell and revert to the more open, aggressive style that saw him win the title from Jason Booth in October last year.
Arthur started to show signs of strain in the seventh, wincing after a series of body blows, before Quigg opened up a deep cut over his opponent’s left eye near the end of the round, rocking him with a series of combinations.
Quigg clearly connected with two right hooks, although it wasn’t clear if the damage was done by a possible clash of heads.
The challenger was in clear distress by that point, so it was no surprise when the referee eventually stopped the contest 35 seconds into the eighth round, even if Arthur was initially stunned by the timing of it.
It looked a decent call after Quigg had managed to land another right jab while Arthur’s back was turned, but the decision proved controversial, with Arthur’s manager Chris Sanigar still arguing with the officials in the ring as the result was announced.