At this stage of Anthony Yarde’s career eight months is a long time to be out of the ring after a defeat, especially against a domestic rival you were expected to beat.
So Saturday’s clash with Alex Theran in Birmingham is a fresh start for Yarde, who saw bouts dashed in April and June that denied him a chance to get back in the saddle quickly.
Theran is not the stiffest test. It’s about the process, going through a training cycle and setting up the rematch with Lyndon Arthur after that shock defeat in December.
Light heavyweight is a division packed with talent and opportunity, domestically as well as world level.
It reminds me of the 70s and 80s when we had the likes of Eddie Avoth, Chris Finnegan, John Conteh and Bunny Johnson.
The combined defeats to Arthur and Sergey Kovalev stole Yarde’s momentum. He was the one earmarked for glory, but has seen Arthur and Joshua Buatsi move past him.
Kovalev was well worth the risk. I thought Yarde had him beaten and with more experience might have held on to be crowned world champion.
The loss to Arthur was more painful. Yarde is a world class talent but he has to show us something different.
He just tried to walk down Arthur and knock him out. He ran out of ideas.
Yarde has learned he can’t just knock people over. There has to be another dimension to his game. He needs to add stamina and be more adaptable.
If it isn’t working you have to pull something out of the bag. He couldn’t do that against Kovalev or Arthur and paid the price.
A rematch with Arthur is in the pipeline. So this is a run out, a sharpener.
To succeed against Arthur he has to be more effective with his jab, to switch from body to head and vice versa.
We are talking about subtle variations that come with fighting at elite level. He has to show more variety to get in closer so he can make use of his power.
So that’s what I’ll be looking for on Saturday, signs that he has taken a step and ready to shoot for the stars.
A final word on Manny Pacquiao. He got old in 36 minutes against Yordenis Ugas.
Those two years out of the ring were not helpful. He could not close enough to hurt Ugas.
Twenty six years at the boxing coal face is enough for any man. We doff our cap to an all-time great and hope he recognises it’s time to call it a day.
Follow Barry on Twitter at @ClonesCyclone @McGuigans_Gym @CyclonePromo
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