He didn’t feel like there was a need for it, but Lyndon Arthur will rematch domestic rival Anthony Yarde on December 4 hoping to put a definitive bow on their light-heavyweight clash, while asserting himself as Joe Smith Jr’s mandatory challenger for the WBO world title ahead of 2022.
Trainers overshadow a tension-filled press conference
As I wrote at the time, promoter Frank Warren hoped to finalise a date in September or October, but Yarde’s failed attempts at an in-ring return didn’t help. Nonetheless, a Dec. 4 date – 364 days after their first bout ended in a split decision win for the Mancunian – is now set.
King Arthur will defend his Commonwealth strap against Yarde at London’s Copper Box Arena, with the winner also seizing number one contender status for Joe Smith Jr‘s WBO world title.
Smith Jr, set to defend his LHW strap against Umar Salamov on October 30, was hospitalised with COVID-19 last month. As such, the title fight has been postponed indefinitely, while his promoter Joe DeGuardia said it’ll be rescheduled once the American has fully recovered.
As per ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, he said:
“He’s still in bed, not doing too well. He’s trying to recuperate; worrisome because he really was very, very ill. We’re going to see how Joe feels this week so we can figure which date will make the most sense.”
Arthur (19-0, 13 KOs) earned a R9 TKO win over Italy’s Davide Faraci on July 10 in a comeback fight, having successfully undergone surgery after winning while visibly compromised last year.
Yarde (21-2, 20 KOs) eventually returned to the ring, needing less than a full round’s work to TKO Colombia’s Alex Theran on August 28. Now, the pair will duel once more with more on the line.
With that said, the promotional presser was overshadowed by a heated exchange between the two fighters’ trainers, as Pat Barrett and Tunde Ajayi threatened one another across the stage:
While many will rubbish those scenes as a subtle way to build hype between the pair, it’s clear from their closely-contested bout last year that there is unfinished business they’re keen to milk.
Picture source: BoxingScene, Getty Images