Sometimes the best plans are the simple ones. Lyndon Arthur used his left jab and he used it a lot as he defused the threat of Anthony Yarde to win their long-anticipated light-heavyweight battle at Church House in Westminster.
That the decision was split was a mystery, courtesy of the card of Ian John-Lewis who somehow made Yarde a 117-111 winner. The other two, Michael Alexander and Marcus McDonnell made 115-114. Even that seemed generous to Yarde.
What made the performance even more remarkable was that Arthur injured his right hand during the warm-up. He hardly threw it but never needed to, one hand was enough, exploiting his massive reach advantage to prod a left jab into Yarde’s face all evening.
Arthur’s jab was a thing of beauty. When he landed it Yarde was a foot out of range. It caused him a problem early on but Yarde failed to adjust. He must have known his punches were falling short, but the message never seemed to factor in his decision making. He was slow with his feet, he didn’t move his head. When he did snap into action, particularly when he hurt Arthur in the last, it was all too late.
Afterwards Yarde was dumbfounded at the decision. Frank Warren, the promoter, told him to watch the fight and then decide.
The first two rounds was mostly a mass of feints and twitches, though Arthur did the better job of establishing his jab. Yarde was more aggressive in the third, but Arthur kept popping out his left hand.
Yarde did better leading off in the fourth, but Arthur was moving well on the retreat and landed a right as the bell rang to end the round.
There was little change by Yarde in the fifth, neither did he move his head. Midway through the sixth, he did catch Arthur with an overhand right, but Arthur smiled, kept moving and kept pushing out the jab.
Finally, in the eighth, Yarde set about Arthur with a bit of purpose, doubling up the jab and getting in range for the right hand.
The ninth was close, but the tenth snapped back into a familiar pattern – Yarde stalked Arthur but was usually out of range. Arthur threw only the left jab sporadically, but it found its target. The eleventh saw a few exchanges, but Arthur was landing the cleaner.
Finally, at the start if the twelfth, Yarde landed cleanly with two left hooks that seemed to knock Arthur backwards. Arthur responded with a good right, but Yarde walked through it, Yarde then landed a right that rocked Arthur who looked hurt and tried to hold.
Yarde kept on him, though, landing with powerful short hooks, as the fight finally got going. At the final bell, Yarde held up one hand as if he was confident of victory. All that confidence was misplaced it was Arthur’s hand that was raised by referee Victor Loughlin.