A NIGHT OF HIGH DRAMA SEES YARDE BACK IN POLE POSITION
By Frank Warren
I WAS THRILLED with the night of boxing delivered to a packed house at the Copper Box Arena on Saturday.
It was edge of your seat stuff across a quality card and it was telling how many fans were in their seats before the TV fights started and remained in place right to the finish.
It was Anthony Yarde applying the big finish on this occasion and he really looked back to his old self and got his tactics spot on in his rematch against Lyndon Arthur.
He has recovered the ground he lost in the original fight a year ago and will regain his spot at the top of the charts with the WBO, putting him right in position for a shot at the winner of the big Joe Smith jr v Callum Johnson world title fight on January 15.
I have to be honest here. If Anthony had fought in this fashion a few fights ago he would have been world champion. Fighters need to play to their strengths and Anthony did depart from the approach that served him so well in working his way towards his first world title shot against Sergey Kovalev.
He got it just right against Lyndon and put it on him, as most expected him to, right from the first bell. It was a spectacular encounter and there is nothing quite like it when a big fight lives up to expectations.
Anthony is right back in business and again looks like the fighter we threw our weight behind from the beginning. Lyndon will have to come again but it is far from over for him in what is a booming division in this country.
I would like to clear up one matter I am told has been brought up on social media where it has been said I have been harsh by releasing Lyndon following his defeat.
As many people will be aware, it was a struggle to get this fight over the line and ensure that signed contracts were adhered to. Unfortunately, previously strong relationships have been strained.
The fact is, if Lyndon had won the rematch he would have been pushed forward in the same way Anthony will be now, no question about it. However, his team requested that, in the event of defeat, he be released and we agreed to this.
He has not been cast aside just because he lost, this is what Lyndon and his team wanted from this outcome.
I rate Lyndon as a fighter and as a person and wish him every success for the future.
Now, a rejuvenated Anthony can head into 2022 with renewed optimism safe in the knowledge that a second world title shot is firmly on the horizon.
A big talking point on the night emerged from the chief support fight between Hamzah Sheeraz and Bradley Skeete. This step-up fight presented a big learning curve for young Hamzah, who people should not forget was taking part in just his 14th fight and is only 22 years old.
I know the eighth round is proving a big bone of contention and how it was dealt with was solely in the hands of the referee, Steve Gray, who deducted a point from Hamzah and gave Brad time to recover. It was an incident within a fight that was down to the officials to apply the laws as they saw fit.
It had nothing to do with favouring the home fighter or promoter, as has been suggested. When fighters step into the ring they fall under the jurisdiction of the appointed officials and there are no external influences.
That said, Hamzah is someone who wants no question marks over his career ascent and has offered Bradley a return fight via social media. I’m proud of Hamzah’s stance and as such we have obliged and offered the rematch to Bradley and his team.
On Saturday night we also witnessed excellent performances from a number of our top notch young prospects in Sam Noakes, who won a first title belt, Dennis McCann, Karol Itauma, Charles Frankham and Masood Abdullah.
All of them show why the future of the sport in this country is in very safe hands and it is exciting to imagine where these young men will be in a couple of year’s time.
Unfortunately, Dennis banged up his knuckle while letting his hands go early in the fight, but then showed great wisdom and poise to see it through on points without any alarms.
Sam delivered a really mature performance to win the WBC International Silver title and building him and fellow lightweight Mark Chamberlain in parallel before they ultimately meet is a tantalising prospect. Ideally, I would like to get them both to around 12 fights and increase the magnitude of what will surely be a domestic cracker. We will get Mark started in title fights when he returns to the ring early next year after missing out on a pre-Christmas fight due to a recent illness.
Karol, Charles and Masood all showed why they will be battling for live TV time very soon and why the introduction of our ‘Prospect Shows’ is such an important development for them moving forward. On this platform they will really be able to make their moves and show the public what they are all about.