Gary Sykes focussed on Stephen Smith ahead of British title showdown

Gary Sykes v Jon Kays'English super featherweight title defence. Motorpoint Arena Sheffield
Gary Sykes v Jon Kays'English super featherweight title defence. Motorpoint Arena Sheffield
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Gary Sykes will get chance to capture the Lonsdale belt outright when he meets Stephen Smith for the British super featherweight title.

Purse bids for the fight are due on September 11, although a deal between promoters could be struck before then and the fight must take place before the end of November.

Smith produced a sensational fifth round knock-out to snatch the British title from holder Gary Buckland in Cardiff last Saturday and his first defence will be against Sykes, possibly in Smith’s home city of Liverpool.

The Dewsbury boxer admits he was shocked at the result but is determined to grasp his title shot with both hands.

Sykes said: “I didn’t see that result coming but I’ve had a real spring in my step now I know who I’m boxing and everything we do now is geared towards the British title.

“I thought Buckland would win that fight and then vacate the title, which would have meant the Board mandating someone else to box me for the vacant title.

“That has not happened and we now know we’ll be boxing Smith, someone I’ve sparred with quite a lot.”

Sykes and his team are leaving no stone unturned as they aim to re-capture the British title and they will spend three days in Scotland next week sparring World lightweight champion Ricky Burns.

Sykes added: “Sparring Ricky will be a great experience for me. He will be sharp and in shape as he defends his World title on September 7 but we’ll go there on Monday and enjoy three days quality sparring.”

Sykes will return to the ring on September 27 with a warm-up fight on the Elland Road bill, headlined by stablemate Josh Warrington, but the 29-year-old admits everything they now work on will be in preparation for Smith.

Sykes added: “It will be good to fight in front of a big Yorkshire crowd but everything we do now is aimed at the British title.

“I’ve worked for two years to get the belt back and if I were to win it outright, I could retire a very happy man, whatever else I go on to do in my career.”

Tickets for the Elland Road bill on September 27 are available from Sykes’s base at the Central Boxing Club in Batley or trainer Julian McGowan on 07800 991292.