Anthony Yarde returns

Anthony Yarde returns

Anthony Yarde must defeat Theran to secure Lyndon Arthur rematch but the best fights are elsewhere on the card, writes Matt Bozeat

FRANK WARREN says the Anthony Yarde-Lyndon Arthur rematch goes ahead on October 9 – unless there’s a surprise result in Birmingham on Saturday night (August 28). Anthony Yarde meets Colombian southpaw Alex Theran over 10 rounds on a busy night of boxing at the Arena. BT Sport televise.

For Yarde, it’s his first fight since that split points loss to Arthur last December. He has added James Cook MBE, the former British and European super-middleweight champion, to his coaching team to work alongside Tunde Ajayi and the hint is we may see more urgency from Yarde after he ran out of time to stop Arthur last December.

The Yarde way has always been to patiently break down opponents and, in fairness, only twice in his 22-fight career has the 30-year-old from Ilford got it wrong. Against Sergey Kovalev, Yarde emptied his tank trying to finish the accomplished veteran and Arthur was able to jab his way into a points lead and then hold him off. Yarde, 20-2 (19), has lost both times he’s gone past seven rounds.

Even allowing for Yarde’s ring rust and the fact he hasn’t faced a left-hander since Dariusz Sek, stopping him in the seventh three years ago, Theran, 23-5 (15), seems unlikely to make it into the later rounds.

The fight is given some credibility by Theran’s last result, a points win over Adama Osumanu, a 40-year-old version of the fighter who challenged Daniel Geale and Gennady Golovkin for alphabet belts at 160lbs. But the 30-year-old has been stopped in three of his last six.

Theran, who boxed in World Youth (2008) and World Senior championships (2009) as an amateur, won his first 16 in the pros before he ran into Arif Magomedov (10-0) and retired after three rounds. Yarde will surely finish him off around midway.

Anthony Yarde

Also in Birmingham, Gloucester southpaw Akeem Ennis-Brown defends his British and Commonwealth super-lightweight belts against Sam Maxwell. The fight was scheduled for March, but days before, Ennis-Brown pulled out and Liverpool’s Maxwell outpointed former Midlands champion Ben Fields (10-9-2) over eight.

Ennis-Brown and Maxwell, 15-0 (11), both had career-best wins only a few days apart last year: Maxwell was a points winner over former European champion Joe Hughes (17-5-1), overcoming a slow start to win by margins of six and three rounds (twice); four days later, Ennis-Brown landed the Commonwealth and vacant British titles with a unanimous points win over Philip Bowes (20-3) in an often messy clash of left-handers. The scores were 115-112 (twice) and 116-111 after Ennis-Brown finished strongly. Bowes was docked a point in the eighth and at times, he looked a bit sorry for himself.

Fighting Ennis-Brown is nobody’s idea of an easy night’s work. He has a style that’s his own – and it works. The 14-0 (1) record shows upset wins over Glenn Foot (20-1) and Chris Jenkins (19-2-1) and Ennis-Brown also handed Freddy Kiwitt (11-0) and Bilal Rehman (12-0) their first losses. “I have been brought in to lose,” the 25-year-old told Boxing News. “I have done it the hard way, the right way. The amateur pedigree won’t prepare him for this. I don’t think he’s ready.”

Maxwell turned over just before his 28th birthday after a lengthy amateur career that included Commonwealth Games bronze and as a pro, the Liverpudlian has gone into most of his 15 fights as a warm favourite. He had that scare against Frenchman Sabri Sediri (10-1) when he was down in each of the opening two rounds before pulling off the last-round stoppage and my feeling is that Maxwell boxes to the level of his opposition.
Hughes was – by some distance – the best he’s faced in his pro career and Maxwell found the answers with long, straight punches. The 32-year-old has since switched trainers to Steve Maylett and says the game plan is to “keep it tidy, land the eye-catching shots and not make mistakes.”

He can pull it off – just.

Warren said “fingers crossed” when announcing Belfast switcher Anthony Cacace (18-1) would defend his British super-featherweight title against Lyon Woodstock Jnr. The fight has fallen through three times over the past 13 months.

For Cacace, it is the first defence of the title he took off Ibstock powerhouse Sam Bowen at the same venue in November, 2019. Though Bowen was on the front foot for much of it, he couldn’t get on top of the Irishman the way he had got on top of his previous 15 opponents and Cacace nicked enough rounds with eye-catching singles to be ahead on two of the judges’ scorecards. Bowen was docked a point in the fifth.

Cacace, who waited until the seventh year of his pro career for that breakthrough win, says if he can deal with Bowen’s pressure, he can handle Woodstock.

The temptation is to think the 28-year-old from Leicester has found his level after Archie Sharp and Zelfa Barrett outpointed him, the latter result his last fight in June, 2019.

Woodstock says that after 24 amateur and 14 pro fights, he’s still learning. He believes Cacace is tight at 130lbs, possibly undermotivated and that he can outwork him the way Martin J Ward did. Now 32, Cacace knows to expect an honest 36 minutes from his challenger, but can Woodstock pin him down?

Woodstock has trouble with movers and box-of-tricks Cacace can keep his belt with a points win.

One of the better domestic fights we’ve this year was the clash between super-flyweights Ijaz Ahmed (8-2) and East Ham-based Afghan Quaise Khademi (8-1) in February. Ahmed won a split vote and gets home advantage when they meet again for the vacant British title. First time they met, Ahmed was the compact, front-foot fighter, Khademi the flashy switcher with the leaky defence who needed time and space to work. There was good back-and-forth action throughout, Ahmed getting the verdict with a strong start and finish. We go for him to win on points again.

The Verdict Solid matchmaking among the bouts for domestic titles.

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