BOXING manager Steve Wood is carefully planning a route back to the top for Dewsbury’s Gary Sykes, writes Andrew Hunt.
The 28-year-old from Dewsbury Moor racked up the 20th win of his professional career against Dean Mills in Hull last Friday and Mr Wood is determined to get Sykes another shot at the British super featherweight crown.
Mr Wood said: “The plan is quite simple. Get Gary another fight at this level, then move him up to the British title level once more.
“I will look to get Gary instated as the mandatory challenger to whoever is British champion and try to get him the Lonsdale belt back.
“I’m also looking into the possibility of putting on a show in Dewsbury perhaps, in May or June.”
Cardiff’s Gary Buckland, who snatched the British title from Sykes in a thrilling clash last September, successfully defended his crown with a comprehensive victory over Middlesbrough’s Paul Truscott in Sheffield last Saturday.
Promoters are already talking about Buckland meeting Manchester’s Steven Foster-Jnr next and the Sykes camp would be happy to have another non-title fight before stepping back into the championship mix.
Sykes’s trainer Julian McGowan said: “We got exactly what I expected from Gary on Friday and there is still work to do.
“When Gary boxes like he did in the fourth and fifth rounds against Mills, he is lovely to watch and he has the ability to beat anyone in the division.
“Many people’s conception is that Gary’s work- rate wins him fights and many think the volume of punches he throws will be enough to win every time but sometimes work-rate can go against you.
“The way Gary boxed Buckland in rounds four and five was what we wanted and had he fought the entire fight like that, it would have been an easy win.
“We again saw glimpses of that against Mills but Gary is still very much a work in progress.
“People may think I’m harsh but I’d give Gary’s performance a C-plus last Friday. When I watch the fight, I am not looking at it as Gary Sykes, I am looking at a championship calibre fighter.
“Had a novice boxer put in that performance, I’d have given him an A-minus but these are the high standards Gary has set and we are working hard to get to where we want to be.
“It was fitting to see Gary get a first win fighting out of the Central Boxing Club. People have put in a lot of hard work into the gym and we hope this will be the first of many successes for the Central.”
Last Friday’s clash was officially at lightweight but Sykes has no immediate plans to make the step up permanent and sees his future at super featherweight.
Despite last year’s heartbreaking defeat to Buckland, Sykes still only needs to win one more British title fight to capture the Lonsdale belt outright.