“I HURT my right hand on his head early in the fight,” Lyndon Arthur said immediately after outpointing the hard as nails Dec Spelman over 12 rounds. It’s a quote that summed up the contest perfectly.
The contest for the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title was sold as Arthur’s vehicle to a showdown with Anthony Yarde – a bout agreed before and then postponed during lockdown – with Spelman cast as the dangerous hole in the road. Truth is, Arthur saw it coming all along.
Scunthorpe’s Spelman’s tactics, to smother and pressure Lyndon Arthur and fire the right hand over his low left, were fine in principle but difficult to execute. One could make a case for Spelman winning the opening round but Arthur moved up a gear in the second, gliding to his left and pinging out his jab with increasing purpose.
In rounds three, four and five Arthur looked relaxed in the extreme. Spelman would move forward, do his best to cut off the space, before being punished by that left lead and the right hand. The right uppercut in particular was an excellent punch, particularly when one considers that Spelman and his trainer Carl Greaves were well aware of the danger that blow presented long before the opening bell.
To say it was completely one-sided, though, would be unfair to Spelman, who gave this everything. He had sporadic moments of success with single punches, his clumping right was perhaps his most accurate weapon yet at times – as Arthur leaned back on the ropes and swatted away his rival’s blows – this looked like an extravagant pad routine.
Yarde knows those routines all too well. He watched the contest on a laptop in his gym down the road from Stratford, where this bout was staged in the BT Studios.
“Everyone wants to be entertained but I was bored,” was Yarde’s assessment. “Lyndon won every round but Spelman wouldn’t last 12 rounds with me.”
It was a harsh overview. BN noted in round six that Arthur was barely throwing his right hand yet he controlled things with his left. As Spelman walked to his stool at the halfway mark, his right eye was damaged and blood trickled from both his left eye and his nose. Yet still he plundered forward. Gutsy in the extreme, Spelman’s head was regularly clumped backwards but it wasn’t until the last few rounds he moved it effectively himself.
Wearing the name of Scott Westgarth on his trunks, the fighter who died after outpointing Spelman in 2018, Dec’s courage and unflinching desire to win made several rounds close yet Arthur’s class was evident throughout. BN agreed with judge Terry O’Connor and scored the bout 119-109 for the champion though the challenger’s incessant pressure persuaded John Latham (116-113) and Mark Lyson (116-112) to be more generous. Both scores were justifiable.
Arthur’s trainer Pat Barrett, once a spiteful and talented puncher himself, implored his man to step it up – at times one sensed the Mancunian could have stopped his man if he did so, particularly with Spelman marking up – but was ultimately satisfied with Lyndon’s efforts.
For Arthur, it nicely sets up the clash with Yarde in October providing Anthony comes through a proposed warm-up this month. Spelman, meanwhile, cemented his reputation as one of the bravest fighters in the land.
On the undercard, middleweight Caoimhin Agyarko – from Croydon but based in Belfast – enhanced his burgeoning status when he dropped Harrow Weald’s Jez Smith, who boxed very well at times, on three occasions before forcing referee Lyson’s intervention 47 seconds into the ninth.
Kingsbury’s Jerome Campbell towered over Nick Ball but struggled to keep the Scouser off him. Ball said afterwards he hadn’t done himself justice – a common theme of boxers’ appraisals after they’ve boxed behind closed doors – yet he did well to stay on top of his unbeaten opponent throughout their eight-rounder.
Ball, trained by the excellent young coach Paul Stephenson, scored a knockdown in round seven before winning 79-72 on Lyson’s card.
There were wins for more promising Liverpool fighters, in the shape of featherweight Andrew Cain (when Blackpool’s Ed Harrison retired on his stool after three) and super-bantamweight Brad Strand who whitewashed Evesham’s experienced Brett Fidoe, 40-36.