The light-heavyweight scene in Britain at the moment is as good as it has been for a long time, with the likes of Joshua Buatsi, Anthony Yarde and Callum Johnson all leading the way. On this Friday's latest offering from Queensbury Promotions, there is another domestic clash which is sure to put another name into that mix of fighters as Lyndon Arthur 16-0 (12 KOs) defends his Commonwealth title against the former English champion Dec Spelman 16-3 (8 KOs).
Before the Coronavirus pandemic, Lyndon Arthur was due to face Anthony Yarde 19-1 (18 KOs) in what looked to be a mouth-watering clash, however as we know, since the lockdown came into force the fight was then cancelled. For Dec Spelman it has now presented a huge opportunity to not only cause an upset but become the Commonwealth light heavyweight champion in the process, a challenge he is relishing.
“It is a massive fight for me and when we got the call proposing the bout I had to take it because these opportunities do not come around very often. Ideally, I could have done with more time to prepare myself for the fight as I have only had a few weeks, but I would not have taken it if I was not confident that what I have can beat what Lyndon has”
Spelman is no stranger to the pressure of a big fight, in his last outing, he lost to Shakkan Pitters 13-0 (4 KOs) in his first defence of the English title that he had picked up by beating Kirk Garvey in May 2019. The fight with Pitters was a rematch of their bout in the final of the 2018 Ultimate Boxxer light heavyweight tournament which because if its format was only a three-round bout. Although he lost the rematch, it was evident that Spelman was more than capable of holding his own against the more highly regarded names of the division.
The fact that we now have boxing shows for the next four to six weeks consecutively is celebrated by the majority of fans, fighters and officials alike, but it was never a certainty that we would even see another show in 2020, which for the competitors of the sport has been an extremely difficult time. It has been the same for Spelman as it has been for many others, a lack of sparring and gym time has hampered progression throughout the last four months, yes you can keep fitness levels up in other ways, but nothing can replicate that important period of time in a gym for a fighter and Dec explained how he has managed over the last few months.
“I normally train in Newark which is over an hours travel time for me, so there was no gym for me to go and train the way I normally would. I did not even have anywhere at home I could hang a bag up at first so I ended up having some scaffold put up in my garden just so I could have a heavy bag to train with. I have been able to keep myself ticking over, but it's not been with the same focus as usual because I had no fight date nor did I think I would be fighting at all this year. When Carl Greaves was able to reopen the gym a couple of days a week I was back in there getting myself ready in case we got a fight”
Before receiving the call to fight for the Commonwealth title, Spelman was offered the opportunity to fight on the “Kold Wars” show promoted by Al Siesta which is pitting twelve British fighters against twelve Russian fighters in a tournament format which is due to start on July 30th and is Dec is no stranger to tournaments.
Spelman opted initially to take the opportunity before then receiving the call from Frank Warren with the proposed headline bout of the 31st July which is taking place behind closed doors, which is unprecedented circumstances for the sport but something Spelman looks forward to.
“I got the call to fight on the Al Siesta show in Belarus, which was also sanctioned to be for the WBA inter-continental title, so of course I thought that was great for me and my career. Carl then got the call from Frank asking if we would fight Lyndon in his first defence of the Commonwealth title. We were actually contacted about fighting Lyndon before the lockdown happened which of course we said yes to, but then they announced the Yarde fight which left us a little confused, so for it now to have come back round was a bit out of the blue.
“At first when I took the fight, I thought I had nothing to lose, but the more and more I have been training and thinking about it the more I have realised that if I win this fight and the Commonwealth title it's not only a chance to become a champion again but I can also go full time with boxing because at the moment I still work to support myself and my family and that is massive for me and I have used that as my drive in training.
Not only would it potentially lead to a contract with Frank Warren it could lead to me being able to facilitate boxing on a full-time basis which would do wonders for my career”.
Many pundits within the media rate Lyndon Arthur as a fighter to watch, who is going all the way to the top of the division, but for Dec Spelman, he is very much aware of what Arthur brings to the table and has been keeping a close eye on his progress over the last couple years knowing that potentially their paths would cross, and whilst he is respectful about his opponent, Spelman certainly pulled no punches when it came down to how he feels there are flaws there to exploit in Arthur.
“I rate Lyndon, I really do, but I feel that I have the ability to be able to get close and put the pressure on throughout the fight. At times in his previous fights, he has looked a little lazy and took his foot off the gas, which is where I believe I can exploit that and take over the fight and what I bring to the table is going to be too much. I am going to break him down and stop him late in the fight
Whilst there are people that will disagree with Spelman’s prediction for the fight, it is certainly evident that he is more than ready to bring his educated pressure style into the biggest fight of his career against a fighter many believe will go on to be in some pretty big domestic showdowns over the next eighteen months.