Tunde Ajayi discusses Light-Heavyweight monster Anthony Yarde
“Anthony, for his weight class and his size, is definitely one of the best I’ve worked with.”
If anyone has an eye for talent then it’s Tunde Ajayi. Mr ‘Stamina for Sale’ has trained some of the very best down the years including undefeated two-weight world champion Harry Simon and former British and Commonwealth champion Kevin Mitchell .We caught up with Tunde at the famous Peacock Gym to discuss his latest prodigy; Anthony Yarde. The big-punching Ilford man takes on Bulgaria’s Tzvetozar Iliev on Saturday 30th April at the Copper Box Arena, exclusively live on BoxNation.
4 big knockout wins in his first 5 professional fights. There’s a lot of hype around Anthony and justifiably so by the looks of things. How do you deal with the praise being thrown his way?
“In terms of the hype it’s very important, especially for me as a coach, that we stay level-headed and grounded. Anthony only had 12 amateur fights and going into his first six professional fights he’s still relatively a novice. Thankfully he’s had good sparring and good experience; I took him to America a few years ago. I think it’s a case of baby steps for Anthony. I can’t really focus on the hype and the praise being thrown his way because I understand the sport; we’re talking about a global sport. Even at British level it’s very difficult, there’s some good fighters at this level. I just want to continue to develop Anthony step by step.”
What do you think his best trait is? He’s clearly got the power and the speed. Anthony has previously said you spend a lot of time in the gym focusing on timing.
“For four years it’s always been timing for us. Even in sparring, you can see he can spar with light guys, much lighter guys than himself. We never focus on the power; it’s all about speed and timing. As we progress it has to be about his timing.”
A lot of people are of the opinion Anthony could already storm through the domestic light-heavyweight scene. Where do you want him to be by the end of 2016, pushing for his first title?
“I think I’m just going to let things take their course. I know what his potential is and I know his ability. Sometimes you can really upset a boy’s career if you push them too fast or you have too high an opinion of them. If you look at James DeGale, I remember he fought for a WBA International title in his seventh fight, by his tenth or eleventh fight he was fighting for a Commonwealth title which he lost. Did he really have to lose at that stage? Yes he’s gone on to become a world champion but I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I’d rather Anthony didn’t lose. We all get excited too quickly and rush. There’s no need to rush; he’s 24 years-old.”
Frank is the best promoter there is in my opinion. I always sit down with Frank and we discuss the best way to develop Anthony. He has experience in developing the best British boxers that have ever come out of this country. So I would say by the end of the year maybe a Southern Area or an English title.”
The fights are coming thick and fast for Anthony. April 30th will be his sixth fight since last May. How much of an impact does that have on his training?
“To me, you learn best in the ring. A busy and active fighter is a good fighter. He needs to be learning before we start going into title fights. Anthony is totally dedicated to his training; he lives for it. This guy could probably fight every night of the week if he wanted to.”
Are you finding Anthony’s fearsome reputation from his amateur days has followed him into the professional ranks?
“In only his second fight Andy Ayling told me he’s a nightmare to match. I thought ‘wow’. He only had a short amateur career but the reputation has definitely followed him into the professional ranks. Sometimes I wonder if that’s justified or warranted because no disrespect to his opponents, but there’s a number of guys in the top 20 in this country that probably could have done the same job. The next opponent that he’s due to face is a much tougher test for Anthony. He’s a step up so hopefully he doesn’t go inside one round.”
He’s taken his man out inside the opening round in his last three fights. Would you rather someone came in and took him the distance for experience?
“To be honest with you, if you look at Mitch Mitchell before Anthony fought him he was a tough durable opponent who took most people the distance and Anthony blew him away in the second round. His last opponent had only been stopped once or twice. What I know is that he will find his level where his opponents actually tough it out and start being a bit more durable. He’s learning in the gym and the step ups will come.”
You’ve worked with some top boxers over the years. It’s still early days but where does Anthony rank at the moment in terms of ability and potential?
“I’ve trained some good fighters. Harry Simon was right up there, a two weight world champion and still undefeated to this day, the experience I had with him was invaluable. I’ve been all around the world but I’m going to stick my neck on the line here and say that in terms of temperament, which is very important at the highest level, I think Anthony is number one. I’ve never seen somebody so calm and composed. Sometimes even I get bit agitated and Antony just tells me to relax. Skill wise, not very many people can beat him at this stage of his career. Anthony, for his weight class and his size, is definitely one of the best I’ve worked with.”