Lyndon Arthur retained his Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title, and claimed the vacant WBO Intercontinental belt, with a dour split decision win against Anthony Yarde at Church House, Westminster on Saturday.
Neither man threw a meaningful shot in the first round, as the pair sized each other up, but ‘King’ Arthur (18-0, 12 KOs) demonstrated his ramrod jab on a couple of occasions.
Yarde (20-2, 19 KOs) was looking for openings, but was finding Arthur’s jab a tough obstacle, and the second saw more cagey stuff.
There were rumours that the Manchester man had damaged his right hand in the warm up, and it did seem he was reliant a lot on his left, as he used it almost exclusively, but was still keeping his foe on the end of an excellent jab.
Yarde did have a brighter fourth, landing with a right hook, but it was still a quiet affair.
The 29-year-old upped the urgency after halfway, and Arthur, 29, confirmed to his corner at the end of the seventh that he couldn’t land his right hand, but his jab was still as potent as ever.
Yarde’s corner finally sensed that their opponent was troubled by his hand, and the Londoner was inching closer and closer, but ironically took a flush right hand from Arthur at the start of the ninth.
Still, there were no telling blows being landed and rounds were difficult to score, in what was scrappy stuff, and ahead of the final round, all outcomes were possible.
The champion was forced to trade shots with Yarde for the very first time, and the former world title challenger, who was stopped by Sergey Kovalev for the WBO crown in August 2019, landed a flush right hand that stiffened his opponent’s legs, and Arthur was starting to unravel.
However, ‘The Beast From The East’ had left it too late to force a stoppage, as the fight went to the scorecards.
Ian-John Lewis scored the fight 117-111 in Yarde’s favour, but Michael Alexander and Marcus McDonnell’s 115-114 cards ensured Arthur scored the upset win.
“I felt like I outboxed him, but he hurt me in the last round,” Arthur told BT Sport post-fight.
“I thought it was close, I wouldn’t have said it was a robbery had I have lost. Of course, I would give him a rematch.”
👑 ARTHUR EDGES PAST YARDE BY SD
📝 111-117, 115-114, 115-114
— Pro Boxing Fans (@ProBoxingFans) December 5, 2020
“The whole fight I pressed the fight, the punches he landed were only jabs,” said a bitterly disappointed Yarde.
“This sums up 2020 to me, I strongly feel that it was a robbery, I’m not taking that as a loss.”
Bourke blasts past Ramabeletsa
Chris Bourke again impressed, as the Streatham southpaw blasted out the usually durable Michael Ramabeletsa in two rounds to win the vacant WBC International Super Bantamweight title in their rescheduled clash.
English champion, Ramabeletsa (18-18, 8 KOs) was caught by a massive left hand that dropped him in the second, and he never fully recovered, as Bourke (9-0, 6 KOs) poured on the pressure upon the resumption.
The sheer volume and weight of punches from Bourke forced his foe to take a knee, and referee Ian-John Lewis waved the fight off while administering the count.
McCann marches on
Dennis McCann had a much needed learning fight, going eight rounds for the first time in his fledgling career, with a points win against Portugal’s Pedro Matos.
McCann (8-0, 5 KOs) didn’t have things all his own way, and had to take some stiff shots from Matos, (7-4, 1 KO) who was stopped in eight rounds by Sunny Edwards, but still impressed in the main to take a 80-73 win for referee Marcus McDonnell.
Itauma successful on debut
Karol Itauma made his professional debut on the bill, and the Slovakian born Light Heavyweight took all four rounds against the ever reliable Lewis van Poetsch (9-124-2, 2 KOs).
Itauma (1-0) was a Youth Olympic Gold Medallist, and looked good, as he displayed an array of punches to secure a 40-36 shutout.
Ali claims second win
The show opener came at Featherweight, where Muhammad Ali claimed his second professional win with a six round points victory over Jamie Quinn, a veteran of over 110 fights and who had only been stopped three times.
Quinn (7-106-2) gave 2016 Olympian, Ali (2-0) a good learning fight, but the Bury man ran out a 60-55 winner for referee Marcus McDonnell.