Anthony Yarde vows to return to form against Lyndon Arthur in rematch after brutal defeat

Boxing

Anthony Yarde has vowed he will return to winning form in Saturday’s rematch with Lyndon Arthur, after admitting a combination of tactical mistakes in the fight and dealing with the loss of four family members led to a brutal defeat to his bitter rival.

Across 2020, four of Yarde’s family members died of COVID-19 — his father and three of his grandparents — before he took to the ring in December for a British light-heavyweight fight against Arthur.

Arthur beat Yarde by a split points decision and is now ranked No. 1 and No. 3 with the WBO and IBF world governing bodies, with the victor on Saturday moving closer to a world title shot in 2022.

While Yarde (21-2, 20 KOs), 30, from Ilford in east London, believes he should have got the verdict over Arthur (19-0, 13 KOs), 30, from Manchester, a year ago, he concedes that he made mistakes that led to his second career defeat, as well as coping with grief in the background.

“I’m a knockout artist and made bad decisions in that fight,” Yarde told ESPN. “He was doing things to make me fight the way I did and I was also not there mentally in that fight either.

“I would say it’s highly possible it [deaths of family members] did affect me. I lost both my grandparents and my dad in one go. It got too much for my family, so I didn’t talk much about it.

“In terms of my mentally, when it came to fight week, it just hit me. I was losing weight without even trying and everything was just very, very different. I felt low in terms of my energy.

“When I fought Sergey Kovalev I lacked experience and ran out of gas. With the Arthur fight, I was thinking the winner will get a world title shot and I thought I was going to press for a knockout later in the fight.

“Against Kovalev I was f—ed after ten rounds. So, when it got to round nine against Arthur I decided to box him until the 12th round and that was a terrible decision.

“After I had all the tragedies I had, with no break, I just carried on working. People were putting their arm around me and saying are you alright, and I was saying ‘yeah, are you alright?’ Then I went away with my family for two weeks to Mexico and while I was there I got back to myself, and I was ready to get back into the ring. I was thinking negatively before that.

“I don’t blame nobody but myself for that but now I’ve got the chance to right my wrong.”

Yarde told ITV news this week that after his father and grandparent died earlier on in the year, his family felt the media attention was “too much.

“Because of the media attention it got, there was a lot of family members saying ‘we don’t want to tell everybody anymore, because it’s too much’. So I left it and dealt with it in silence,” he said.

“People in my team knew about it, but it was one of those things when I just said ‘be a professional.

“In the sport of boxing no-one cares, no-one cares what’s going on in your personal life, you’ve got to go out and perform.”

Yarde has already challenged for a world title belt and had Sergey Kovalev worried in the eighth round before fading and get stopped by the Russian for the WBO belt in the 11th round in August 2019.

The Londoner hopes avenging defeat to Arthur at the Copper Box Arena in Stratford, east London, will put him back into world title contention and has added former European super-middleweight champion James Cook to his corner. Cook is working with Yarde’s trainer Tunde Ajayi.

“People are expecting me to be on the front foot but I could be on the backfoot or centre of the ring, that doesn’t matter I’ve knocked out people going backwards,” Yarde said.

“I just have to have the right mindset, and I have this time.

“James Cook has a lot of experience and has brought another set of eyes, an unbiased opinion, whether it’s me or Thunde.

“I’ve learned my lesson, I was a bit of a hypocrite before saying I’m thinking of just one fight at a time. When I fought Kovalev, I was already thinking about my next world title fight.”

Arthur will have to silence Yarde’s home crowd to preserve his unbeaten record and continue his upward momentum in what promises to be an entertaining encounter.

“It’s huge because it’s the win that brings world titles,” Arthur said.

“I guess Yarde and myself are the same sort of people and whenever I have met him there isn’t any animosity. He is in my division, so we have to fight.”

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