Light heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde returned with a somewhat rusty performance, but got an arguably early stoppage win over Dec Spelman today at York Hall, setting up a Commonwealth title shot against Lyndon Arthur.
Yarde (20-1, 19 KO) hadn’t had a serious fight since Aug. 2019, when he went to Russia and lost in a WBO title fight with Sergey Kovalev. He did fight in February, but it was against a total no-hoper in Spain, and the fight was over in two rounds.
Here, the 29-year-old Yarde faced a solid domestic operator in Spelman (16-5, 8 KO), who did have a bit of success in the fight, using a double jab early to keep Yarde from getting any rhythm going. After five rounds, in fact, we had this just 48-47 for Yarde, with Spelman having won the first and fifth rounds on our card.
But Yarde did turn up the heat in the sixth round, throwing hammering right hand blows and laying on some pressure. Spelman, 28, had never been stopped before, and was furious when referee Michael Alexander stopped the fight at 2:42 of the sixth round after a knockdown.
You could argue Alexander could have let Spelman keep trying, but you could also argue that nothing was going to get better for Spelman.
“This win meant a lot. I was sharp, everyone knew about last year with the Kovalev fight, everyone knows my ambition,” Yarde said after the fight. “I’m still inexperienced. I’m being more patient, being defensively responsible. When I want to open up I can, but it’s about learning in the ring — working the jab, getting back into defensive position after the shots.”
Yarde had been ready to fight Lyndon Arthur earlier this year, but the pandemic shut that down and postponed it. It’s now planned, but with no specific date reported yet. Arthur also beat Spelman on July 31.
“I’m ready to fight whenever,” Yarde said. “Obviously (coronavirus) has impacted everything and we’re hearing about a second wave. I’m just staying in the gym, staying ready.”
In the co-feature, Mark Heffron and Denzel Bentley fought to a rare unanimous draw over 10 rounds in a British middleweight title eliminator where nobody was eliminated.
All three official cards were 95-95, while Bad Left Hook had it 95-94 for Bentley (13-0-1, 11 KO), with a second round knockdown of Heffron (25-1-1, 19 KO) the difference on our cards. But as we are American-style, even rounds rarely come into play on our cards, and European judges use them far more often, which accounts for how we wound up at 95-95 across the board here.
It was, indeed, a very close fight, with the 28-year-old Heffron having moments where his aggression was effective, and the 25-year-old Bentley moments where his movement and slicker boxing worked out in his favor. Bentley did sometimes back himself into the corners as much as Heffron really drove him there, which is where Heffron did some of his better work. The knockdown in the second round came when Bentley switched to a southpaw stance and just landed a nice, clean, well-timed straight left hand that put Heffron on the canvas. It wasn’t a huge knockdown, but it was a real one.
There’s a good chance these two may rematch, which would be fair enough and fine. The two both felt they’d won, Bentley feeling he’d out-worked Heffron, and Heffron believing he’d landed the cleaner shots.
- Amin Jahanzeb PTS-6 Jamie Quinn: Quinn, 30, is now 7-104-2 (0 KO), but he goes the distance again. He’s only been stopped three times. Jahanzeb (8-0, 2 KO) is a domestic level junior lightweight prospect, 24 years old and all the hallmarks of that kind of guy, not someone with massive potential but a tidy boxer.
- Ekow Essuman UD-10 Cedrick Peynaud: The 31-year-old Essuman is a decent domestic welterweight, but this fight displayed a lot of limitations despite being pretty one-sided. He probably has no hope at all of being a real world-level operator, which is fine, not everyone can be, but even at the domestic level he may struggle against better foes. Peynaud (8-8-3, 4 KO) is tougher than his record makes him seem and can be a pain. Essuman (14-0, 5 KO) pretty much shut him down, which is good, but a lack of pop will limit him and it’s not like he’s an exceptional talent; he’s a pretty good talent. Scores were 98-93, 98-92, and 100-90. BLH had it 99-91 for Essuman.
- Josh Frankham PTS-4 Kevin McCauley: This was the pro debut for Frankham, a junior middleweight cousin of Tyson Fury, and he got to mix it with a durable old pro in the 40-year-old McCauley, who loses for the 208th time as a professional, with Frankham getting a 40-36 score from the referee. McCauley (15-208-12, 0 KO) hasn’t won a fight since 2017 and is currently on a 54-fight losing streak, and is 0-6 in 2020 despite the pandemic and all. Frankham actually hadn’t fought for three years, reportedly, and was signed by Warren on Tyson Fury’s recommendation/insistence/whatever. Frankham said he was pleased with his performance and paid respect to McCauley, calling him “one of the toughest journeymen in the game,” which he is. Yeah, he’s been stopped 14 times, but that’s 7 percent of his losses.
- Ed Harrison PTS-4 Mohammad Ali: Referee’s score was 39-37 for Harrison, a 26-year-old club fighter who’s now 2-4 (0 KO), a notable upset win over the 24-year-old prospect Ali (4-1, 1 KO), who was looking to make a name at 135/140. They did announce the wrong winner at first. Here’s a great post-fight interview talking about that and the result: