Sykes faces Bulgarian in warm-up to Buckland

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BRITISH boxing champion Gary Sykes will be out to record a 19th win of his professional career tomorrow when he meets Bulgarian Valentin Stoychev in a six round non-title contest at Hudderfield Sports Centre, writes Andrew Hunt.

Although the boxing season will take a break for the summer after this weekend, Sykes sees tomorrow’s clash as the perfect way to start what he hopes to be a memorable 12 months.

The 27-year-old from Dewsbury Moor is set to defend his British super featherweight title against old foe Gary Buckland.

Hatton Promotions have confirmed that the mouthwatering clash will take place onSeptember 24 at Ponds Forge Leisure Centre in Sheffield.

Sykes knows that victory over Buckland would not only see him win the Lonsdale belt outright but it would also provide the springboard to possible European or world title shots.

Sykes said: “Although this is the end of the season, to me it is the opposite and I am just starting my season.

“I will take a few days off after Saturday, maybe go out for a meal, but I will be back in the gym on Wednesday when preparations will start straight away for the massive fight with Buckland.

“When I beat Buckland, I will have cleaned up all the best super featherweights in Britain, apart from Ricky Burns.

“I’ve already beaten Carl Johanneson, the man who defeated Burns, so after Buckland, I will be worthy to have at a shot at Burns’s world title, or at least the European title, which is also a great belt.”

Like many British boxing fans, Sykes was dismayed at the way Burns defeated Londoner Nicky Cook in last Saturday’s WBO world title fight in Liverpool.

Cook had fought just once in two-and-a-half years, ironically against another Dewsbury man Youssef Al Hamidi in May, but was given the title shot only to suffer a back injury after just six seconds of the contest. Scotland’s Burns went on to complete victory inside 93 seconds of the first round.

Sykes knows victory over Stoychev tomorrow, followed by success against Buckland, could set up another all British world title fight and the Dewsbury man would certainly provide a sterner test for Burns.

Stoychev has won two and drawn one of his 10 fights.

Dewsbury’s boxing solicitor Zahid Kahut is also on tomorrow’s Huddersfield bill when he takes on Preston’s Howard Daley for a third time.

Kahut has already beaten Daley twice and has won four, lost four, of his eight bouts and will look to complete a hat-trick of successes against the Lancastrian.

Tickets for tomorrow’s show are still available and Sykes fans should contact Mark Waters on 07890 071883.