Lyndon Arthur sets up Anthony Yarde showdown as he cruises to victory over the gutsy Dec Spelman

Lyndon Arthur shows his class against a tenacious Dec Spelman to retain the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title

“I HURT my right hand on his head early in the fight,” Lyndon
Arthur
said immediately after outpointing the hard as nails Dec Spelman
over 12 rounds. It’s a quote that summed up the contest perfectly.

The contest for the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title was
sold as Arthur’s vehicle to a showdown with Anthony Yarde – a bout agreed before
and then postponed during lockdown – with Spelman cast as the dangerous hole in
the road. Truth is, Arthur saw it coming all along.

Scunthorpe’s Spelman’s tactics, to smother and pressure Lyndon Arthur and fire the right hand over his low left, were fine in principle but difficult to execute. One could make a case for Spelman winning the opening round but Arthur moved up a gear in the second, gliding to his left and pinging out his jab with increasing purpose.

In rounds three, four and five Arthur looked relaxed in the
extreme. Spelman would move forward, do his best to cut off the space, before
being punished by that left lead and the right hand. The right uppercut in
particular was an excellent punch, particularly when one considers that Spelman
and his trainer Carl Greaves were well aware of the danger that blow presented
long before the opening bell.

To say it was completely one-sided, though, would be unfair
to Spelman, who gave this everything. He had sporadic moments of success with
single punches, his clumping right was perhaps his most accurate weapon yet at
times – as Arthur leaned back on the ropes and swatted away his rival’s blows –
this looked like an extravagant pad routine.

Yarde knows those routines all too well. He watched the
contest on a laptop in his gym down the road from Stratford, where this bout
was staged in the BT Studios.

“Everyone wants to be entertained but I was bored,” was Yarde’s
assessment. “Lyndon won every round but Spelman wouldn’t last 12 rounds with
me.”

It was a harsh overview. BN noted in round six that
Arthur was barely throwing his right hand yet he controlled things with his
left. As Spelman walked to his stool at the halfway mark, his right eye was
damaged and blood trickled from both his left eye and his nose. Yet still he
plundered forward. Gutsy in the extreme, Spelman’s head was regularly clumped
backwards but it wasn’t until the last few rounds he moved it effectively himself.

Wearing the name of Scott Westgarth on his trunks, the
fighter who died after outpointing Spelman in 2018, Dec’s courage and
unflinching desire to win made several rounds close yet Arthur’s class was
evident throughout. BN agreed with judge Terry O’Connor and scored the bout
119-109 for the champion though the challenger’s incessant pressure persuaded
John Latham (116-113) and Mark Lyson (116-112) to be more generous. Both scores
were justifiable.

Arthur’s trainer Pat Barrett, once a spiteful and talented puncher himself, implored his man to step it up – at times one sensed the Mancunian could have stopped his man if he did so, particularly with Spelman marking up – but was ultimately satisfied with Lyndon’s efforts.

For Arthur, it nicely sets up the clash with Yarde in October
providing Anthony comes through a proposed warm-up this month. Spelman,
meanwhile, cemented his reputation as one of the bravest fighters in the land.

On the undercard, middleweight Caoimhin Agyarko – from
Croydon but based in Belfast – enhanced his burgeoning status when he dropped
Harrow Weald’s Jez Smith, who boxed very well at times, on three occasions
before forcing referee Lyson’s intervention 47 seconds into the ninth.

Kingsbury’s Jerome Campbell towered over Nick Ball
but struggled to keep the Scouser off him. Ball said afterwards he hadn’t done
himself justice – a common theme of boxers’ appraisals after they’ve boxed
behind closed doors – yet he did well to stay on top of his unbeaten opponent
throughout their eight-rounder.

Ball, trained by the excellent young coach Paul Stephenson,
scored a knockdown in round seven before winning 79-72 on Lyson’s card.

There were wins for more promising Liverpool fighters, in the
shape of featherweight Andrew Cain (when Blackpool’s Ed Harrison
retired on his stool after three) and super-bantamweight Brad Strand who
whitewashed Evesham’s experienced Brett Fidoe, 40-36.

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