Anthony Yarde shook off seven months of ring rust with victory over Dec Spelman at the York Hall, Bethnal Green, stopping his opponent in the sixth round with a precise and powerful assault.
The Londoner is rebuilding his career after losing last November in his first world title fight, against Sergey Kovalev in Chelyabinsk, Russia. In that fight he came within a whisker of stopping the impressive champion, known as ‘Krusher’, but was stopped in the 11th round, through inexperience and exhaustion.
The 29-year-old was in total control against Spelman, however, in promoter Frank Warren’s headline event in East London. Yarde is now set to fight reigning Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion Lyndon Arthur on the undercard of the highly anticipated heavyweight battle between Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce on October 24 at the O2 Arena.
Spelman showed his toughness for five rounds against the heavy-handed physicality of Yarde, but the volume of body and head shots in the sixth dismantled the Lincolnshire fighter, who took a knee after one assault. Referee Michael Williams gave Spelman a standing count but then waved the fight off.
Spelman remonstrated with the official, but it was a good decision, marking the first stoppage in his 21-fight career.
“This win meant a lot,” said Yarde. “I felt sharp. It’s all about experience. As everyone knows, I’ve had 12 amateur fights. This was my 21st pro fight, so I’m still inexperienced. I’ve knocked out a lot of my opponents. It’s not the fact I was looking to go longer in this fight, it’s about being patient, looking for my shots. I’m just going through the gears.”
Yarde is also seeking fight against fellow Londoner Joshua Buatsi, the Rio Olympics bronze medallist. Both 175lb fighters are highly ranked with the world’s sanctioning bodies.
“It’s definitely a fight we want," Tunde Ajayi, Yarde’s trainer, told Telegraph Sport. “They have to hold world titles first. We are the A-side. We have built up a following and a resume. Buatsi hasn’t got there yet. I spoke to [manager] Freddie Cunningham and this was the year they were going to build him up but then Covid happened. If he keeps performing as I expect him to and Anthony continues to perform as I know he will — what a mega fight we will have. But it’s about the timing for both men.”
Earlier on Saturday night, the ringside bell was rung at the York Hall for Alan Minter, the former undisputed world middleweight champion who died on Wednesday aged 69.
An eliminator for the British middleweight title, between Mark Heffron and Denzel Bentley, was won on points by Heffron.