New challenges ahead for Sykes

Gary Sykes v Gary Buckland. British super featherweight title clash at Ponds Forge Leisure Centre in Sheffield. 'Sykes lands a cracking shot to the jaw of Gary Buckland. 'Pictures: Javed Iqbal.
Gary Sykes v Gary Buckland. British super featherweight title clash at Ponds Forge Leisure Centre in Sheffield. 'Sykes lands a cracking shot to the jaw of Gary Buckland. 'Pictures: Javed Iqbal.
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GARY Sykes is relishing the prospect of a new challenge in 2012 as he bids to win back his British super featherweight title.

Contrary to some reports, Sykes and long time trainer Julian McGowan, are as close as ever and are carefully plotting their route back to the top.

The pair have spent much of Christmas revamping the back room of Dickies Gym in Batley, where Sykes will continue to be based.

The gym has been completely decorated and has new, improved lighting, while new boxing equipment will be bought, as McGowan embarks on a very exciting project, which could see some of the top professionals in British boxing travelling to spar with Sykes and stablemate Mike Smith.

Sykes is preparing for a gruelling schedule in the new year as he aims to win back the British title, following defeat to Gary Buckland in September.

The Dewsbury Moor star said: “I will be going at it hammer and tongs, it will be a new year and a new me.

“I’ve been going to the gym and ticking over with Julian but it is usually quiet over Christmas.”

Although a fight for the English title, against Crawley’s Ben Jones has been mooted, nothing is finalised and it is likely Sykes will face a six-round non-title contest next month.

Sykes added: “I’m looking at fighting in February and then I really want to get back in the mix.

“If that means a crack at the English title then so be it but my goal is get the British title back.”

McGowan also has a dream of guiding Sykes to more title glory and remains confident his charge could go beyond domestic level.

McGowan said: “Gary is the most exciting fighter in Britain. Three of his four British title fights were considered for fight of the year and there are few other fighters who can say that.

“Our promoter, Frank Maloney, knows how marketable Gary is and is eager to bring him back fighting for titles soon.

“The goal for us both is winning the Lonsdale belt outright for Dewsbury and then look at our options, which could involve getting a shot at the European title or moving up to lightweight and trying to become a two-weight British champion.

“Much of our time has been spent travelling to other gyms to find sparring opponents but with the new facilities at Dickies, it should attract top boxers to come to us.”

McGowan is meticulous with his planning and preparations and has been quick to point out the progress of a former Sykes opponent, Anthony Crolla.

McGowan added: “Crolla’s only two defeats came against Dewsbury fighters, Gary and Youssef Al Hamidi, but he is now hoping to fight Ricky Burns for the WBO lightweight title.

“Incredibly, 12 months ago Crolla couldn’t even get a British title fight, now he will challenge for world honours.

“Something many people don’t realise is, despite losing to Buckland, we are still only two fights away from a world title shot.”