Lyndon Arthur made good on his promise to surprise heavy favourite Anthony Yarde, jabbing his way to victory via split decision: 111-117, 115-114, 115-114 – retaining his British commonwealth light-heavyweight title while adding the vacant WBO inter-continental strap too. Yarde was bemused as the scorecards were read out, with both revealing they were content for a rematch.
Arthur silences Yarde in cagey domestic lhw bout
111-117, 115-114, 115-114: Arthur defeats Yarde via split decision
29-year-old retains LHW Commonwealth title, wins WBO Intercontinental strap
In the pre-fight promos, Arthur claimed that victory here would prove he’d become a world champion within his next three fights.
While some questions remain unanswered after this display, the Mancunian did himself proud and essentially beat Yarde one-handed – nursing a suspected right arm injury throughout.
He wasn’t able to throw the shot with much regularity but that didn’t matter, such was Yarde’s inability to truly let his hands go until round 12, where he rocked the defending champion.
That was as close as he got, a furious flurry which wobbled Arthur after several rounds of feinting and posturing like the one-time world title challenger was about to unleash true firepower.
It’s been over a year since Yarde fell short at world level against then WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev in Russia and although he’d won by TKO in two 2020 bouts, this was a significant step-up in competition. Disregard the bullish comments of head trainer Tunde Ajayi.
He knew it too, which perhaps goes some way to understanding why he was so measured and seemed cagey in the early rounds.
After all, he was ranked #4 by the WBO heading into this bout while there were two titles on the line against a domestic challenger not named Joshua Buatsi.
There was pressure on his shoulders. Arthur (#6 by WBO) wasn’t fancied by many critics heading into this but began as he outlined was crucial beforehand – controlling the pace with his jab.
Just like Joe Joyce last week, it was accurate when it needed to be. Frustrating and an effective deterrent elsewhere. Yarde controlled centre ring early but was being hit with counterpunches.
Arthur was all-too-comfortable at this slow pace, happy to stay on the outside and pick his punches at distance.
Yarde landed a few body shots but you could see him visibly trying to break Arthur’s awkward style down, such was his inability to close the distance for sustained periods.
With former world title challenger Pat Barrett in his corner, the defending champion was seemingly up three rounds as they headed into R4.
The trainer urged him on, stressing the importance of not resting on his laurels nor getting lazy as it felt inevitable Yarde’s pace would quicken. It did.
You could hear Ajayi’s booming shout of there you go! as the tempo increased somewhat and there was suddenly more bounce in Anthony’s step. Not for long, but it was still encouraging.
R5 and R6 were a bit weird in the sense that Yarde was landing more body shots and tried setting up the overhand right, but the intensity was inconsistent at best and largely frustrating to watch.
Arthur continued landing the jab, Yarde did his best to finish each round as the aggressor to perhaps sway the judges’ scoring ringside but wasn’t truly earning many points by comparison.
The champion’s evasive movement was key in the second-half of the fight, as commentators highlighted Arthur’s hesitancy to throw with his right hand and suggested he had a possible arm or shoulder injury that Yarde’s corner still hadn’t adapted to.
R9 was where the Yarde corner seemed to wise up and stressed a need for him to push the pace, making Arthur uncomfortable. Right on cue though, Lyndon landed one flush early in the round.
He had been stung and suddenly needed to second-guess himself.
Was Arthur bluffing? Was this all part of his plan? You could only wonder how the three judges were scoring this, with so many repeated spells of inactivity by both boxers.
One commentator described it as a mystifying display by Yarde as the tenth round came and went, with another purposeful flurry towards the end but not much more than that.
Arthur was running scared, according to Ajayi. R11 was tense: both seemed conscious that this was a close affair, exchanged shots in the pocket but had Yarde’s urgency now come too late?
He was finally stalking his prey. R12, Arthur was evasive as he could be but must’ve known Yarde would throw the proverbial kitchen sink at him – whether he was up on the scorecards or not.
He let fly with two big right-hands that wobbled Arthur in the pocket, though he managed to stay upright and bided his time carefully with regular clinching whenever they got too close.
That was it. Both felt they’d done enough but Yarde’s performance was largely disappointing, given what was at stake and how he just didn’t seem to let his hands go regularly enough.
He was bemused when the scorecards were read out, especially after Ian John Lewis’ 117-111 proved the sole card in his favour. It was a closer fight than that and he couldn’t really complain.
Post-fight comments, rematch talk and joyce-dubois update
That he did though, during a dual post-fight interview with Steve Bunce:
“I rocked him heavy, outjabbed him. There were parts where it was close, I landed my jabs and was pressing the fight the whole time.
I need to watch it back again and don’t like saying this, but personally and strongly feel it [the result] was a robbery.
Every time he threw it [the right-hand], I countered that but the judges can’t see it. There’s learning to do from that fight but that doesn’t mean I think I lost.
If you look at who landed the clean, effective punches… this is boxing, you’re not going to go out there and be reckless.”
Arthur meanwhile, revealed he did injure his right arm but said it had “nothing to do” with their fight, suggesting it was already compromised in the build-up.
“Nothing really got through, besides the jabs – and I was winning that battle. I thought it [the fight itself] was close, I felt like his defence was good. Of course [we can] rematch, absolutely.”
Promoter Frank Warren confirmed that a rematch will probably happen next in the new year, while admitting the presence of fans would inspire more urgency from both.
“It depends on how you score a fight, at the end of the day, it wasn’t what I expected – that’s a fight that needed a crowd.
You would’ve seen a bit more, a much better fight… you heard it from both, they want a rematch and that’s what will happen.”
On Daniel Dubois’ medical plan after last week’s defeat, Warren said he still has swelling around the eye and while revealing some details from the doctor’s letter, Dubois needs time to recover.
“He’s already seen the doctors three times this week. He needs to rest, be out-of-action for a while until it heals. Daniel, when he comes back, we’ll get him moving again.”
As for Joyce, he’s slated to face Marco Huck (42-5-1, 1 NC) in a European title defence early next year. His callout of Oleksandr Usyk seems premature, then.
Pictures’ source: SecondsOut, Getty, badlefthook