It was three years on Tuesday since Sykes became the first boxer from Dewsbury to win the coveted Lonsdale belt when he defeated Manchester’s Andy Morris in a thrilling super featherweight contest in Huddersfield.
Sykes subsequently defended his crown against Kevin O’Hara and Carl Johanneson before losing on points to Welshman Gary Buckland in September 2011.
Sykes remains just one British title win away from claiming the Lonsdale belt outright and creating a real legacy for the town but he must first concentrate on negotiating a tough English title fight against Kevin Hooper in Cleethorpes next Friday (March 15).
Victory over unbeaten Hooper would certainly put Sykes firmly back in the British title mix and Manchester promoter Wood knows what winning the Lonsdale belt means to all his boxers.
Wood said: “Gary Sykes was going great guns as British champion before he lost to Gary Buckland in 2011.
“Sykes is lined up for the English on March 15 and we’ll then look for a rematch with Buckland and a chance to win the belt outright.
“English featherweight champion is Josh Warrington from Leeds. His first defence is on March 22 and, after a couple more, he’ll be ready to move up.
“We (VIP promotions) started 2013 with three British champions in Brian Rose, Kevin Satchell and Kenny Anderson but should have eight by the end of the year, which is over half of what’s available.
“Of course, it’s going to be a real challenge, but at VIP Promotions we have one of the best stables in the country and with the quality in the camp I believe we’ll achieve our target.”
Warrington trains alongside Sykes out of the Central Boxing Club in Batley and there is real hope that the gym could house two English champions before the end of March.
Preparations have gone well in the Sykes camp for what is a must win contest against Grimsby’s Hooper, which takes place at the Beachcomber resort in Cleethorpes.
The following week (March 22), Warrington defends his English featherweight crown against Devon’s Jamie Speight at Leeds Town Hall on a packed show which also includes the return of Dewsbury welterweight Tony Aitcheson.
Trainer Julian McGowan will first head north this Friday as he takes a fourth Central boxer, James Ancliff, to Motherwell to face Sean Watson in a four round contest.