Lyndon Arthur (17-0, 12 KOs) has been calling for a domestic showdown with light-heavyweight rival Anthony Yarde (20-1, 19 KOs) for a few years and the 29-year-old gets his chance when the two clash at Church House in Westminster on a Frank Warren-promoted show on Saturday night. Warren is celebrating 40 years as a licensed professional boxing promoter and this fight comes right on the heels of last week’s crossroads meeting between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce.
Dubois took a knee in the 10th after taking a jab to his badly-swollen eye then sat out the count. It was a battle of Joyce’s jab and insistence, and Dubois’s pressure and heavy-handed approach. A week later and, on paper at least, the fight between Arthur and Yarde has a lot of similar ingredients.
Last time out, Manchester’s ‘King’ Arthur boxed neatly behind the jab to earn a decision over Dec Spelman at the BT Studios in July. Yarde went one better by stopping Spelman in six in September at the York Hall.
At the time, Pat Barrett, Arthur’s trainer, told Boxing Social that his man had softened Spelman up for Yarde and the two results would not reflect how a meeting between the two would go. Barrett argued that Arthur’s use of the jab enabled him to get rounds then predicted that Yarde would come out gunning for Spelman to make a point.
Hackney’s Yarde struggled with the boxing ability of Sergey Kovalev when going for the WBO title last year. A jab dropped him in the 11th and he was unable to continue. The heavily-muscled 29-year-old insists that he can hit world title level again and that picking up Arthur’s Commonwealth 175lbs belt is a step on his route to another shot.
Arthur, though, has his own aspirations and must have taken heart from the way the jab and steady fundamentals helped Joyce defuse and then stop Dubois, who can hit but is not a sharp hitter in the mould of, say, Lennox Lewis. His punches are more clubbing, sometimes wildly telegraphed and Joyce timed him well with the left.
On the other hand, Yarde will argue that his power and strength will be a deciding factor once the first bell goes. “Being a better Anthony Yarde, being entertaining, being explosive and as smart as I can be,” Yarde told the media this week when outlining how and why he will win the fight.
“I think I have shown that no-one can keep me off even at the highest level. When I start pressing, I can press but, again, it is about learning — I’m sure he is still learning as well — and about putting on the best performances.”
A lot could hinge on just how much Yarde took away from the Kovalev defeat. Trainer Tunde Ajayi will have had a lot to work on post-Kovalev, but the question remains if the work was put in or they are just putting their faith into Yarde’s natural talent, which was always the case in the past.
“I just feel like it is another one of those things [the Kovalev fight], challenging myself mentally,” said Yarde. “I never envisioned anything like that happening because I was extremely confident and what I have been through this year is conditioning of the mind. To be mentally and physically focused and as strong as possible. A lot of people couldn’t be here with what I have been through this year. Again, I didn’t make any excuses and just got back in the ring. It is ‘Lions in the Camp’.”
Tellingly, Yarde is expecting Arthur to try to emulate what Kovalev did, but he argued that it took Kovalev a while to break him down and that Arthur is not at the Russian’s level even though he did not meet a prime version of “Krusher”.
“I am not going to be there to be eating jabs or anything like that,” he insisted. “I fought someone with one of the best jabs in the business and it was only later on in the fight when I needed to win by knockout that it told. With that experience, my focus is to be even smarter, even better and you learn from your mistakes.”
“I’ve watched him go through the gears with the opponents he’s faced and, with being from the same promotional team, it has always made sense for us to fight,” said Arthur when analysing the fight in prospect. “We’ve both been winning, both been doing our thing, we’re both British and, as everyone says, it makes for a great British dust-up. That is what it is going to be on the night.”
Some have speculated that Arthur needs to get the stoppage to win. Although both are Warren fighters, Yarde is very much the A-side despite being the challenger. However, given the recent state of British judging, all bets are off if they both hear the final bell. Arthur, though, believes that he will have to really rise to the occasion if he is to get the nod.
“I want to test myself against what is supposed to be the best in the business, so let’s get it on, let’s do it,” he added. “Why would I be here if I didn’t think I would win. We will see what happens on the night, but I believe I am better, and I believe I will win. I am not here to make the numbers up or be an opponent. I might be on the B-side right now, but I am here to change that. I feel like I am special.”
“I am delighted over where we are and I am delighted to be promoting this fight between these two guys,” said Warren. “I love the sport, it is the most amazing sport of all. Fighters are unique sportsmen and it is a privilege to be around them, at least most of them.
“We had a show last Saturday at Church House and it was a great fight,” he added, referencing the Dubois-Joyce fight. “This will be the same. You look at the styles, the records, the will to win and determination both these guys have got. What it says all over it is ‘fight’ and that is what you are going to get, a great fight. We arranged to do it back in April and for obvious reasons it didn’t happen, but here we are today getting the fight on.”
By pitching the two against each other, Warren has planted the seeds for what could be a very good fight for the second week in a row. Dubois-Joyce did not deliver, the ending has been talked about all week yet the contest itself was largely forgettable. Arthur-Yarde might make up for it if they both produce what they are capable of.
The biggest intangible is whether Arthur can handle what Yarde throws at him while getting the right pace and rhythm on his jab to off-set his opponent. If he can, then it could be a case of Arthur racking up the points while Yarde’s strength and aggression keep him in it throughout. If Arthur can withstand what Yarde brings then he should be able to do enough to get to the final bell and earn a split decision on the cards.
Anthony Yarde (20-1, 19 KOs) vs Lyndon Arthur (17-0, 12KOs) for the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title headlines a night of boxing live on BT Sport 1 on Saturday, which also features a super bantamweight battle with the WBC International title at stake between Michael Ramabeletsa (18-17, 8 KOs) and the unbeaten Southern Area champion Chris Bourke (8-0, 5 KOs).
Main image: Queensberry Promotions.