King Arthur pips Yarde on the cards

Manchester’s unbeaten ‘King’ Lyndon Arthur scored a close, but merited split decision over the fancied Anthony Yarde in another upset at Church House in Westminster, London, on Saturday night.

Seven days after Frank Warren’s rising heavyweight star Daniel Dubois was upset by Joe Joyce in the 10thround, another of the Hall of Fame promoter’s leading fighters was picked off in a shock result.

Judges Marcus McDonnell and Michael Alexander both scored 115-114 for the crafty boxing of Commonwealth 175lbs champion Arthur, overruling another poor card by Ian John Lewis who saw it 117-111 for Yarde.

What made the win more remarkable was that Arthur damaged his right hand in the warm-up and pretty much fought one-fisted, using that back hand ever so sparingly.

King Arthur prevailed on the cards, courtesy of one lancing left hand.
Photo: Queensberry Promotions.

Arthur’s educated left lead was the key to the fight, dictating the distance as Yarde trailed behind and relied on rare, aggressive sorties. The Ilford puncher upped the ante in the closing rounds and stung Arthur with a right hand in the last, but it proved too late to change the narrative.

The pattern was set early. After a cagey opening, Arthur’s fluid jab began to find its range at the end of the first session. By the second, the Mancunian was in a groove, snaking out that left lead as Yarde tracked him in a rather predictable pursuit.

Arthur (18-0, 12 KOs) was mastering the distance with his jab through three rounds, but Yarde emerged from his shell in the fourth, raising his intensity and buzzing the champion with a hefty right hand. But his work was still sparse and the feeling was Arthur had stolen an early march.

The Mancunian was fighting at a comfortable pace behind the jab with Yarde devoid of ideas by the midway point. These weren’t dominant rounds for the champion, but it was hard to make an argument for the workshy Yarde in a number of sessions. 

A left-hand reliant Arthur was barely throwing the right, gradually revealing his injury. Yet Yarde finally discovered some devil in the eighth as he looked to narrow an apparent deficit. “He looks like he’s hurt his right hand,” said Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi at the end of the round.

Yet in the ninth, Arthur landed a flush right that made Yarde second guess himself and the Mancunian was back in the ascendancy behind his jab. Yarde adjusted his tempo in the 10th and clearly felt buoyed by his improvement as he thumped his chest at the end of the round. “That’s all he’s doing running, for the whole of the fight,” encouraged Ajayi in between rounds.

Yarde (20-2, 19 KOs) was the aggressor in a messy 11th and, in a close fight, that felt like it might make a difference. It was still all to play for in the last round. Yarde ramped up the pressure but Arthur tagged him with a rare right hand. Suddenly, a big right stunned Arthur and left him unsteady. A rejuvenated Yarde churned his fists in pursuit of a stoppage. But crucially Arthur stayed on his feet. It won him the fight.

Arthur retained his Commonwealth crown with an accomplished display.
Photo: Queensberry Promotions.

Highly touted teenager Dennis McCann (8-0, 5 KOs) didn’t have it all his own way against Portugal’s useful Pedro Matos (7-4, 1 KOs), taking some decent licks en route to a clear points verdict in a bantamweight eight-rounder. Referee Marcus McDonnell scored 80-73. The gifted McCann showed a sturdy chin in the second half of the contest in a good learning experience fight as he develops his man strength. His skill and natural ability is beyond doubt but he was punished for a few dips in concentration before finishing strongly. There is no rush.

Streatham southpaw Chris Bourke (9-0, 6 KOs) caught the eye with a dominant two-round stoppage of Preston’s usually solid Michael Ramabeletsa (18-18, 8 KOs) to claim the vacant WBC international 122lbs title. South African born Ramabeletsa, 39, suffered a swollen right eye in the opener before he was dropped by a stiff left hand in a neutral corner in the second. A surging Bourke didn’t let him off the hook and, when he floored Ramabeletsa with another flurry, referee Ian John Lewis waved it off.

Chatham-based Slovakian Karol Itauma (1-0, 0 KOs), a former Youth Olympics gold medallist, enjoyed a successful introduction to the pro ranks with a shut-out points win over experienced survivor Lewis van Poetsch (9-124-2, 2 KOs) in a light-heavyweight four-rounder. Referee Marcus McDonnell scored 40-36.

In the show opener, Bury feather and former Team GB Olympian Muhammad Ali (2-0, 0 KOs) outscored Stockport’s durable and ultra-busy Jamie Quinn (7-106-2, 0 KOs), who was having his fourth fight against an unbeaten prospect since late August. Referee Marcus McDonnell scored 60-55.

Main image: Queensberry Promotions.