BOXING’S domestic light heavyweight division could have fight fans packing out arenas across the land in 2022 if the leading protagonists sign up to engage in a shoot-out to prove who’s truly best of British.
With most holding out for the same world title chances and all being split across rival promotional and TV networks, disappointingly the chances of them coming together in unison are frustratingly unlikely.
The seven leading Brits at 175lb have a combined record of 135 wins against just six defeats, yet to date there has only been one fight between them, a fight we will get to see again on Saturday night.
Only Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde appear game enough to take on a leading domestic rival; make of that what you will.
Callum Smith, Joshua Buatsi, Callum Johnson and Craig Richards are all waiting on the same phone call rather than facing off against one another. Whilst new boy on the block, Dan Azeez, is now captain of the 12-and-a-half-stone who needs him club.
Back to this weekend and Yarde (21-2) must flip the script on Arthur (19-0) in order to get his career back on track at the Copper Box in east London.
The former world title contender was outboxed and outthought by his Manchester rival 12 months ago, but insists he’s made the necessary changes in his corner to reverse the outcome.
Yarde, 30, was a punch or two away from becoming world champion when he had Sergey Kovalev rocking in Russia in 2019. But the veteran pound-for-pounder recovered to score a late finish and return the Londoner home with a first career loss.
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After two set-up knockouts, Commonwealth champion Arthur was then teed up in a final eliminator for Yarde to return to world title action. But he failed to detonate his power shots, being routinely offset by the unbeaten Mancunian’s jab and counters.
‘King’ Arthur, 30, wasn’t supposed to win the first fight, which is probably why we are back here again. But if he can rubber stamp his biggest success by getting his arm raised a second time then it will be him that moves into bigger fights and Yarde returning to the drawing board.
Despite the split decision result first time around, Arthur won it fair and square. But this is prizefighting and you’re only as valuable the number of bums you put on seats or eyeballs on the TV. In that regard, Yarde starts a favourite.
The gameplans are obvious. Yarde has to be more aggressive and come out swinging. With 20 KOs in 21 wins he certainly has the power edge. He can’t allow Arthur to get into a rhythm like he did last time. He has to make this a dogfight.
Last time he looked as if he still carried the psychological scars from Russia, where he rolled the dice but punched himself out. He must overcome that fear to return to his destructive best.
Arthur too can’t afford to simply try and rinse and repeat. This fight is going to be very different from the 12 rounds they shared exactly 12 months ago. He too has to be more aggressive and leave no doubt this time around.