BOXING champion Gary Sykes will now defend his British super-featherweight title against Carl Johanneson after things took another dramatic twist in the last few days, writes Andrew Hunt.
Sykes was due to meet Paul Truscott in his second title defence at Huddersfield Sports Centre on March 5 but West Yorkshire rival Johanneson approached the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) demanding he should be mandated to challenge for the crown.
After further negotiations earlier this week contracts were due to be signed for the biggest showdown the county has seen in many years.
Sykes fans had already begun snapping up tickets for the Truscott fight but it is expected that once the Johanneson bout is officially announced, it will sell out very quickly and fans are advised to act swiftly if they want to be there.
Sykes’s trainer Julian McGowan said: “I have been looking back and I am struggling to find a bigger all-Yorkshire fight than this. I can’t remember when the last boxing ‘derby’ was.
“James Hare was involved in some big nights locally, when he fought for various titles, but the excitement and interest surrounding Sykes-Johanneson will eclipse anything we have seen in the region.
“Gary has come in for a lot of criticism since his defeat in Prizefighter but March 5 will give him the chance to put all that behind him and I hope the cynics will give him the credit he deserves.
“Gary has never ducked any fighter, we have always wanted to go in against the best, and if he does beat Johanneson I hope he will receive recognition for beating a great fighter.”
March 5 will not be the first time Sykes has shared a ring with Johanneson as the two sparred on several occasions when the Dewsbury man was a novice and Leeds based Johanneson held the British title.
Sykes admits that this was the fight he always looked towards, saying: “When Carl was champion, I looked up to him and now the roles are reversed. If I could get this scalp on my record it would be great and take me to another level.
“My aim is still to fight in Dewsbury and hopefully if I win this fight, that can happen in my next defence.”
Sykes, who turned 27 last Sunday, will also announce a date next week when fans can watch him go through his final preparations in an open session at Dicky’s Gym in Batley.
Afterwards he will pose for pictures and sign autographs.
Tickets for March 5 are available from Mark Waters on 07890 071883 priced at £30 or £50.