Preview: Yarde v Arthur

Updated: Dec 4, 2020

Another weekend, another massive domestic offering from Frank Warren. Fresh off the back of Joe Joyce’s stunning victory over Daniel Dubois, Frank's other protege, Anthony Yarde takes on an equally formidable test in Manchester’s Lyndon Arthur. 

Originally scheduled for 11 April 2020, however due to COVID-19, the fight was rescheduled to 11 July 2020. 

The fight will be for Arthur’s Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title and is to take place at the historic and atmospheric Church house. Home to Parliament during the Second World War now it is home to a different kind of battle.

As a former World title challenger Anthony Yarde is starting as the betting favourite. The hard punching Hackney native built a name for himself with a string of huge knockouts with only one of his first 18 fights going the distance. 

Mixed with his unique persona, bizzare training techniques and continual shouts of “Lions in the Camp!” Yarde created a huge buzz for himself and eventually earned his shot at the world title in August 2019. 

Going to Chelyabinsk, home town of WBO Light Heavyweight world champion Sergey Kovalev; Yarde put up a valiant effort. He rocked Kovalev in the 8th but ultimately he was stopped in the 11th round. His heart and 8th round flash of glory earned him high praise and raised his profile at a world level. 

Now coming back down to rebuild at domestic level he dispatched Dec Spelman in 6 and is moving to take on the man who has moved to replace him at this level, Lyndon Arthur. 

A decorated amateur Arthur started out at the same place he currently trains Collyhurst & Moston ABC under the watchful eye of head trainer Pat Barrett. He had 50 amateur bouts winning two ABA silver medals, only losing out to world class talent in Joshua Buatsi and Thomas Whittaker-Hart. 

Turning professional in 2016 the 29 year old has gone 17-0 culminating with a classy 12 round unanimous decision victory over the same Dec Spelman who met Yarde in his comeback. 

In terms of their skill sets they have very different styles and strengths. Yarde is a stocky, muscular, power puncher who uses an adapted philly shell guard to deflect punches and roll out powerful counters. He has a decent jab but his real strength lies in his powerful hooks. 

His footwork though is somewhat rudimentary and he has struggled against more mobile fighters. His training techniques too have come under heavy criticism from boxing experts. His coach Tunde Ajayi’s tippy tap pad work and reluctance to do any sparring has left many underwhelmed. These, alongside Yarde’s muscular frame were blamed for his lack of stamina in the championship rounds with Kovalev. 

Arthur on the other hand is a very mobile operator. His footwork and jab have left many impressed. Fast and accurate they have been the building blocks upon which he has built his unbeaten run. Slick head movement and a quick stinging rear hand are also assets he will be looking to deploy when facing Yarde. 

The main criticism of Arthur heading into this fight is inexperience. He has not yet faced anyone the caliber of a Kovalev. On paper Anthony Yarde will be without a doubt Lyndon’s biggest test. 

I believe there are clear arguments that could be deployed in the favour of either man. 

There’s a solid argument Yarde can blow Lyndon away in the first few rounds with his frightening power. You could say that Yarde uses his experience chip away at Arthur and delivers his power in the later rounds. You could say Lyndon replicates Kovalev, surviving scares but eventually letting Yarde punch himself out. 

In my opinion though, the most likely outcome is Arthur uses his boxing skill to out fox Yarde and claim the win on points. This is not the prevailing wisdom, nor the bookies choice for most likely outcome but for me there are few clear reasons to think this way. 

First is coaching. In Anthony Yarde’s corner is a man whose credentials are at best questionable. He had a one year pro career where he fought no one with a winning record. Yarde is his only real achievement and has always shown limited boxing chops. Tunde’s refusal to spar, or train with any traditional methods has been heavily criticised and I personally believe it is severely hampering Yarde’s undeniable talent. 

By contrast, in Arthur’s corner is Pat Barrett, a proper boxing man. Former British and European light welterweight champion Pat went 38–3–1 and is now a fountain of boxing knowledge. Trainer and Promoter he has worked with the likes of Scott Quigg, Matty Hall, Matty Askin and now his nephew Zelfa Barrett, as well as Arthur. If this becomes a chess match as I suspect it will, I’m certain I know who I’d want giving me instructions. 

Second is dictation of distance, if you can dictate where a fight takes place you can dictate not just the range but also the tempo and the availability of certain punches. Lyndon is significantly taller and rangier, combined with his wickedly accurate jab I believe he will be able to impose his distance and control the fight. 

Finally, stamina. Anthony Yarde has more muscles than most of us will ever even know we have. They are ideal for smashing opponents down in the first few rounds but later in the fight they have proved a hindrance. From the 8th round onwards v Sergey Kovalev they proved useless, only serving to slow him down. Combined with poor training Yarde is proven to tire. 

Arthur, while not in contention for Mr Olympia, is 12 round fit. We saw 12 rounds of constant output against both Spelman and Anim. Knowing too that he has been sparring with top quality opposition across the north west, if this fight goes long, I suspect Arthur will be the dominant force. 

Whatever happens Saturday we have a classic matchup. The boxer verses the puncher, the north versus the south. Two showmen, two great fighters, and a glittering stage upon which the next light heavyweight contender will be crowned. 

Ewan Breeze for SimBoxx

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