There are a few names that keep getting mentioned as part of Anthony Yarde’s future, although he insists that he is not thinking about any of them right now. Only one man is in his sights, Dec Spelman, and had already publicly talked down Spelman’s threat, the pressure is on him perform.
Yarde, who unsuccessfully challenged Sergey Kovalev for the WBO light-heavyweight title, faces Spelman, the former English champion at York Hall in London on Saturday. Spelman has been a busy man post lockdown, having lost a one-sided decision to Lyndon Arthur last month.
With Arthur lined up to face Yarde next month, BT Sport got an instant reaction from Yarde who was watching at home. He was damning, accusing Arthur of being boring and asking where he should send the invoice for being forced to watch.
“Sometimes you just say what is on your mind,” Yarde said. “I just made the comment that I was very bored watching the fight, who do I send the invoice to. But all jokes aside, if it was me in there and Spelman was just walking forward taking shots, he wouldn’t have lasted that long.”
Arthur, the Commonwealth champion, had, according to Yarde, neglected his duty to entertain the fans.
“Based on the performance that Dec Spelman gave and based on the way Lyndon Arthur was boxing, it was a fight that was only leading one way,” Yarde said.
“At one point Dec Spelman’s corner was going to take him out because he was just taking shots. In that situation, the fans want to see a stoppage win or a knockout, they want some sort of entertainment. I know he is going to be playing it safe because he has got the fight with me, but at the same time this is an entertainment sport.”
He also believes that Arthur wasted a chance to get fans excited in a future fight against him, one which was originally scheduled for April but is currently due to take place in October.
“The way I saw it was, there is a fight happening between Anthony Yarde and Lyndon Arthur and they had this fight to showcase Lyndon Arthur, the skills he has and his knockout power to make the fight exciting, that is what the fans are going to buy into.,” Yarde said.
“He has a fight with me, but he has a job to do in terms of entertaining, so people can look at him and think ‘he could give Anthony some problems’. But I didn’t feel he did that and that’s not selling the fight. It’s a business as the end of the day and if I had been in that situation, I would have definitely gone for the knockout.
“Boxing is a sport that is so unpredictable, there are people who would have favoured Lyndon Arthur from the beginning, there are people who will favour him after that performance, there are people who will have changed their mind after that performance. It is just boxing. Some people will say he has a good jab and that will affect Anthony. The only way they will find out is if they tune in on the night.”
Arthur is not the only name Yarde had been associated with. Before the COVID-19 lockdown – during which Yarde’s father and grandmother both died from the virus – Yarde had been lined up to fight Joe Smith Jr for the vacant WBO title. Fellow unbeaten Londoner Joshua Buatsi is also an opponent that has been talked about, a fight he believes will happen, but not yet.
“I’m not overlooking Dec Spelman, he is my only focus right now,” Yarde said. “I’m not thinking about Lyndon Arthur, Buatsi or anyone else. I’ve got a job to do and I take it very seriously.”
After being stopped in the 11th round by Kovalev in Russia, last August, Yarde had a lowkey return to the ring in Spain in February but, despite criticising Arthur for not attempting to stop Spelman, he is not expecting a quick night himself.
“I haven’t boxed in a televised fight for over 12 months, so it is the biggest break in my career,” Yarde said. “I need all the experience I can get. I am not looking at Dec Spelman as if he is a fighter I can just walk through. I don’t go out looking for knockouts.
“The thing I learnt the most from the Kovalev fight, in all my other fights, when I hurt my opponent I was composed, but because this was such a big fight, I lost my cool, I started fighting with emotion instead of using my common sense and tactics to break him down.
“I’m not going out swinging recklessly and looking for a knockout early, I am just going to go and do what I do and I believe the knockout is going to come.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for Boxing Scene. He was Boxing Correspondent for The Times, where he worked from 2001-2019 - covering four Olympic Games and numerous world title fights across the globe. He has written about boxing for a wide variety of publications worldwide since the 1980s.