ON April 11, at the O2 Arena in London, Lyndon Arthur will step through the ropes to fight Anthony Yarde. He will be anxious to perform, he knows precisely what victory would mean for his career. But he won’t be afraid. For Arthur boxing has always been a sanctuary. When he first walked through the doors of Collyhurst and Moston, the boxing club was therapeutic for him. “A boxing gym is like a school of everything. You learn sacrifice in there. You learn dedication. You learn routine. It’s good for the mind. You know how to defend yourself if you ever need to. Boxing’s just an all time great sport, whether you’re going to fight or you’re just going to train,” Lyndon tells Boxing News. “I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
It could all have been very different. As a teenager he was dealing with grief, dealing with anger, when Pat Barrett, his coach till this day, took him under his wing. “I was 17 years old. Pat took me weight training at first. Then said why don’t you come to the boxing gym,” Arthur recalled. “I was either going to go into boxing or I was probably about to go down a path that wasn’t ever going to get me here. I was probably going to mess about. Whether it was sell drugs or do dumb s**t, I’ve changed my life completely around and I have to thank boxing for that.”
His brother was killed when Lyndon was just 10 years old. Arthur lived close by the place where he died. It was a constant reminder. “He got shot, he got killed. Round where I live, 30 seconds’ walk probably from my house,” Lyndon said. “So that’s what I mean, when I got a bit older and I now live here, 30 seconds away from where my brother died all the time. That probably got the better of me at the young age of 16, 17 and I was probably upset and angry.”
“I lost my best friend when I was 16 as well. He got stabbed. I’m not saying it was the worst place to grow up but that kind of stuff was happening. You can say that to people and they wouldn’t even understand,” he continued. “Growing up where I’m from, I’m not saying it’s the worst of places but there was people getting shot and drugs getting sold, on a daily basis. A stolen car was fun, like it is for every estate kid. I’m not saying I’m any different to anyone, but I’m saying that was just the norm. So it’s probably hard to grow up there and not go into that routine of that being the norm. I just went a separate way and like I say changed my life around.”
It wasn’t Barrett who immediately spotted his talent for boxing though. Brian Hughes saw that Arthur could be good. “My best punch was the jab, automatically. Then Brian Hughes said to Pat, ‘He can be good.’ He can be good. Pat couldn’t see it at the time because I was just a little messer, smoking weed messing about doing stupid nonsense stuff, what teenagers do,” Arthur remembered. “Brian’s seen something in me… He must have seen a spark in my eye, or something in my jab or something in my boxing stance that nobody had seen. He put a bit of belief into me.”
Arthur did become an excellent amateur. He won a place on the GB squad, he boxed and lost to Joshua Buatsi in the ABA final in 2014. “Look how decorated as a pro Joshua Buatsi is. As an amateur, bronze Olympic medallist, so a million percent he’s probably the best person I faced,” Lyndon said. “It was a great fight and I’m sure it was a close fight. It’s a fight I’d like in future. A rematch would make a great fight also, as this one [the fight against Yarde] is.”
But this fight coming up on the undercard of Joe Joyce versus Daniel Dubois will be the defining moment of Arthur’s professional career. Yarde has been to world level, losing to Sergey Kovalev in Russia. Winning at the O2 would put the victor in line to become the mandatory challenger for the WBO light-heavy title.
“Yarde’s a great opponent, powerful, good boxer, respect him one million percent in regards to boxing. So I know I have to be on my absolute A game. It’s going to be an amazing fight, one which I’m confident that I’m going to win,” Arthur said. “It was a gallant performance. He did well [against Kovalev]. He got beat most of the fight. Okay in some rounds, had a good eighth, had a good three minutes of a fight and then got stopped. But still when you go into the lion’s den, in the background of Kovalev’s Russia, you’re against it from the off. From when he accepted the fight, he was against it. So fair play to him. He went there and he did it. He did his thing. He tried. He went out on his shield basically. He threw punches until he couldn’t throw no more punches and was exhausted. I don’t know whether that was because of the nerves or just not going that many rounds before. It could have been many things.
“He did 100% the most he could have done. He didn’t win but he tried and he’ll always be respected for that. It was great, I’m guessing, for him. It’s risen his stock a lot.”
But Arthur warns that no one should write him off in this contest. “I don’t care too much for people’s opinion, bookies what they’ve got it as, what boxing pundits have it as. They are not in the ring fighting with me. They’re not in the ring fighting with Yarde. They can’t tell me that I’m going to lose. Nobody can tell me that. Nobody can tell me that I’m not good,” he says.
“I’ve put too much into boxing.”