Lyndon Arthur says he would rather move towards a world title fight rather than have his rematch with Anthony Yarde later this year.
Arthur beat Yarde for the Commonwealth light-heavyweight titles last December in what many viewed as an upset. Arthur, from Manchester, largely outboxed Yarde, who failed to land many punches until he caught Arthur in the final round.
Both are joint headlining a show at the Royal Albert Hall in London on July 10 - Arthur boxing unbeaten Italian Davide Farachi and Yarde facing Germany’s Emin Atra – ahead of a rematch between the pair later this year.
The return fight is contracted, but Arthur says he has other targets. He is now ranked No 1 contender to the WBO title, held by Joe Smith Jr, but is unlikely to get that chance before a Yarde fight, which could be set up as a final eliminator by the WBO.
“They are trying to push the Yarde rematch, I am not too bothered,” Arthur, 30, said. “I want a world title fight, I want to move on, so we’ll see what happens.”
The win over Yarde was widely seen as a shock and while Yarde seemed surprised by the verdict, Arthur, who had injured his right hand warming up in the changing room before, picked Yarde off with the jab throughout.
It not only extended Arthur’s unbeaten record to 15 fights, but it was a huge boost to his profile, having been little known among mainstream sports fans before.
“People acknowledge me a bit more,” Arthur said. “I put my name in the mix for the best light heavyweight in Britain, but the goal still remains the same.
“It wasn’t a shock to me what happened. I didn’t do anything that I didn’t think I was going to do. It was only a shock to people who didn’t believe in me or didn’t know about me. I asked for that fight the first day I walked in Frank Warren’s office.
“I only thought it was a close fight because of the last round. In the moment, in the heat of it, I remembered the last round. I got caught with a good body shot and then a good right hand. I was never wobbled, so I don’t know why people say that he nearly knocked me out, because that never happened. I never thought ‘sh!t, I’ve been caught, I need to hold on’ and I never held on. If I needed to hold on, I would have held on. I didn’t.”
The win was also a boost for the gym where he honed his skills in a rough part of Manchester. Arthur credits the Collyhurst & Moston gym as his salvation from a life of drugs and gangs, having been only 10-year-old when his brother was murdered. Many of the young boxers in the gym who come from similar tough backgrounds as Arthur, see him as a role model.
“It’s good for them, because it is nice for them to have someone to look up to in a sense,” Arthur said. “We come from Collyhurst & Moston, it used to be a great gym and now it is on the way back because there are some good fighters coming through. I guess a win like that gives them a bit of a push.”
If the return fight with Yarde does happen, Arthur has not doubt about who he thinks will win, even if Yarde learns the lessons of the first fight and adapts.
“I can adapt, too, so it makes no difference to me,” Arthur said. “If we do rematch, I’ll win.”
Ron Lewis is a senior writer for BoxingScene. 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.