THE NEW ADDITION to Ilford’s own pride of Lions insists that Anthony Yarde has more than got what it takes to become a light heavyweight world champion.
James Cook MBE, the former British and European super middleweight champion, has recently been drafted into the camp to work with Yarde and his trainer Tunde Ajayi, to provide wise counsel and be an experienced eye on the team who work out of the Box Up Crime gym in the heart of Ilford.
Yarde, 29, who was challenged for the WBO world title against Sergey Kovalev in 2019, is back in the ring on July 10 at the Royal Albert Hall. However, the self-styled ‘Beast from the East is looking to put his marker down in the division once again after suffering a narrow points loss to Manchester rival Lyndon Arthur in December.
“I am the older lion!” said the Hackney legend with a chuckle. “I am just here, so if something goes wrong, I will try and correct it and tell Tunde. People might think I am here shouting, but it is not that; the whole idea is to see what is going wrong and look at what we can do better. I will tell them what I think.
“What I like about these guys is they listen; they are a young team who are willing to learn from someone who has been there and done it. So I am here to correct them and say, ‘you know what, this is what you do in this situation,” added the 62-year-old, who will bring both experiences and calm to punching proceedings.
“Definitely, because when you get that close to a fighter, you can get caught up in it and not see things. So I am here to guard against that because I have been there, and I can look for things they may not look for.
“The truth is essential for a fighter and, as I have said to people if they do not hear the truth, they hear nonsense. They are in there to survive, and you have got to be honest.”
Cook insists his remit includes a full license to speak his mind and say what he sees.
“When they spoke to me, I said if I am not that, then I won’t be here. Anthony is his own man, and I am the older man, so if I don’t speak the truth, this will never work. So I am here to make sure the truth is spoken.
“Anthony has all the heart in the world, and it is probably that calmness that he needs around him. When everyone is wrapped up in emotion, they probably miss that.”
And from his short stint bringing order to the lion’s den, Cook is convinced Yarde will, before too long, be a top cat of the division.
“Listen, he will definitely be a world champion. He fought for one before, and it was part of a learning experience where he will know what to do next time. He is definitely ready for a world title fight.”
Pictures from yesterdays media day with Cook, Yarde, and Tunde can be found here
Foster vs Cunningham for the EBU, British and Commonwealth Super-Bantam Titles; Cacace vs Woodstock for the British Super Featherweight Title; Ennis-Brown vs Maxwell for the British and Commonwealth Super-Lightweight titles.
Plus, the return of Light-Heavyweight Superstar Anthony Yarde, Stoke sensation Nathan Heaney and English Bantamweight Champion Liam Davies.
Tickets on sale next week.
BRAD FOSTER will face Jason Cunningham for the British, Commonwealth and European Super-Bantamweight titles at Utlilita Arena, Birmingham on Saturday August 28, live on BT Sport.
Their eagerly awaited triple title showdown heads a stunning night of action that includes two further British championship contests.
Other big names on the blockbuster bill includes Anthony Yarde and boxing’s biggest ticket seller Nathan Heaney.
British and Commonwealth champion Foster’s promoters Queensberry wiped out their rivals when purse bids were ordered for the showdown against European title holder Cunningham (29-6, 6KOs).
Foster (14-0-2, 5 KOs) lives close to the venue in Lichfield and promoter Frank Warren is backing his legion of fans to roar him on.
Warren said: “It is one of the most evenly matched fights anywhere this year, but we want to give Brad every advantage.
“The bill is outstanding and a big local crowd could be the difference come fight night. What a fight it will be.
“I expected Brad to be facing Gamal Yafai, but Jason was exceptional when he beat him. Brad has been in fantastic form since he signed with Queensberry and it’s hard to believe he’s only 23.”
Doncaster southpaw Cunningham caused a huge upset when he snatched the European crown from Yafai in May.
Foster last fought in March when he scored a shut out points win against Alvaro Rodriguez to pick up the vacant IBF International belt.
Former World Light-Heavyweight title challenger Yarde (20-2, 19 KOs) has a warm-up ahead of his likely rematch against Commonwealth champion Lyndon Arthur, who controversially outpointed him last December.
Akeem Ennis-Brown (14-0, 1 KO) will risk his British and Commonwealth Super-Lightweight championships against Liverpool’s former amateur superstar Sam Maxwell (15-0, 11 KOs).
The Gloucester man hasn’t boxed since winning his title in a points win against Philip Bowes last September.
He had been due to face Maxwell in March, but was injured and his challenger had to be content with a points win against late sub Ben Fields.
Belfast’s Anthony Cacace (18-1, 7 KOs) will finally get to defend his British Super-Featherweight crown against Lyon Woodstock (12-2, 5 KOs).
Injuries and illness has prevented the fight taking place since it was first scheduled last August, and it promises to be a cracking 12 rounder.
In a fourth title fight Telford’s Liam Davies (9-0, 4 KOs) will make his first defence of the English Bantamweight title he won so impressively against Sean Cairns last November.
Warren added: “Ennis-Brown v Maxwell and Cacace v Woodstock fights promise and will deliver excitement for those lucky enough to be there and BT Sport viewers.
“This is a card that no one can have any complaints about.”
Stoke Middleweight Heaney(12-0, 4 KOs) will have his raucous army behind him when he boxes a ten rounder in his third fight under the Queensberry banner.
Warren hopes that next summer, Heaney will be fighting on an open air show at the bet365 Stadium, home of his beloved Stoke City.
Northampton Super-Lightweight Eithan James (5-0) will box a six rounder on the bill.
Dublin’s Willo Hayden a training partner of Conor McGregor makes his professional debut in a four round Super-Lightweight contest.
Also in four round action is Nottingham Light-Heavyweight Ezra Taylor (1-0, 1 KO) and Telford debutant Super-Lightweight Macauley Owen.