Mancunian admitted the split decision could have gone either way, with Londoner describing result as a robbery
Lyndon Arthur produced the performance of his career to claim a 12-round split decision triumph over huge favourite Anthony Yarde and retain the Commonwealth light heavyweight championship on Saturday night.
Arthur, now undefeated in 18 fights, dedicated the victory to his late brother Zennen, who was killed in a gangland shooting when he was 10 years old.
The underdog won this second defence of his title with two judges scoring the fight to the Mancunian 115-114 with the third judge seeing the bout 117-111 in Yarde’s favour. It was a razor-tight, intense contest, with Arthur winning the battle of the jab, holding on through a torrid final round as Yarde finally made inroads, hurting the defending champion with his heavier punches.
The success elevates Arthur’s standings in the world rankings given that Yarde was ranked No 9 by the World Boxing Council, No 12 by the International Boxing Federation and No 5 with the World Boxing Organisation.
Arthur, who has a tattoo of his brother on his arm, explained to Telegraph Sport: “Boxing saved me, it got me off the streets. Where I grew up [in Moston], round there normal was stealing cars and selling whatever. Fighting was also the norm for an estate kid. I’m sure many boxers are just like me who got away from the estate.”
He added: “I’m not saying I would be dead but I might have been. The situations me and my friends got into. I’ve lost my friends, they’ve died, been stabbed, run over and murdered. My brother died not 20 seconds from where I live. He got shot. I’ve seen it. Growing up around that it becomes normality. My point is you can easily get led into those things. There are still kids out there getting stabbed and in gangs.”
Arthur wants his victory to deliver a wider message about the value of sport. “The boxing gym takes kids away from that [violence]. Whether they box or not, it gives them structure and discipline. Listening to a head coach, they learn to deal with authority better. Since I’ve been a kid no one likes authority. Life is about choices and if you were a teenager and you can choose to go to a gym, it can put you on a different direction. It saved me and I have huge respect for boxing. That’s my account. My brother would have loved to have seen this, but he will be looking down now thinking ‘wow, that’s my little brother.’”
Yarde, for whom this was a second defeat in 22 fights, labelled the split decision “a robbery”.
“I need to go back and watch it,” he said. “It’s boxing, you’re not going to go out there and be reckless. But from what I know happened in the ring, I was pressing the whole fight. I strongly feel that was a robbery. I don’t like to scream the word robbery, but I feel like I won the fight.”
Arthur concurred that it was a close contest. “I thought it was close. If the points would have went on his side, I wouldn’t have said it was a robbery. But it went to me, so I’m not going to say that either.”
Elsewhere on Saturday night, Errol Spence Jr made a winning return to the ring against Danny Garcia retaining his WBC and IBF welterweight belts via unanimous decision — 117-111, 116-112, 116-112 — in Arlington, Texas. Spence Jr was fighting for the first time since an horrific car accident in October 2019 which might have ended his career.