DEWSBURY boxing champion Gary Sykes has warned rival Gary Buckland ‘lightning won’t strike twice’ when they clash for the British super featherweight title at Ponds Forge, Sheffield, tomorrow.
Sykes was knocked out by Buckland in the Prizefighter competition last November but although he is considered a big underdog, the 27-year-old from Dewsbury Moor is confident of retaining his British crown.
Sykes said: “Lightning is not going to strike twice and Buckland will see a completely different Gary Sykes. I have trained differently for this fight and I know I’ll be bringing my belt home for good.”
With Ricky Burns deciding to vacate his world title to move up a division to lightweight, Buckland is ranked as the number one super featherweight in Britain, while Sykes is third behind Manchester’s Stephen Foster-Jnr.
However, Sykes is unfazed and added: “I’m glad Buckland is number one as it adds a little bit extra to the fight. We know the winner will be Britain’s best super featherweight.
“People are saying I’m the underdog and that has helped catch people’s imagination but that doesn’t bother me and I’m going to prove everyone wrong.”
Sykes held a public work-out at Dicky’s Gym in Batley on Monday when around 80 fans saw him put through his paces.
Former Commonwealth and WBF World welterweight champion James Hare attended and both fighters posed for pictures and signed autographs.
Hare, from Roberttown, Liversedge, retired in November 2006 following a glittering 37 fight career, which yielded 33 wins.
He successfully defended his Commonwealth title four times before becoming World Boxing Federation champion.
Hare, who fought for the British welterweight title but suffered defeat to Manchester’s David Barnes in November 2004, said: “I had many highlights in my career. Winning the Commonwealth title and fighting for the WBF title at the MEN arena.
“Some of the less prestigious titles I fought for gave me as much pleasure and in some cases I fought better in those fights, which was nice because I proved to myself that I could do it.
“I’ve been to see Gary fight in Huddersfield a couple of times and I see the excitement that surrounds him.
“Against Carl Johanneson Gary had a great local following and it was a fantastic atmosphere.”
There will be another crackling atmosphere in Sheffield tomorrow and Sykes will be backed by around 300 supporters, all eager to see him win the Lonsdale belt outright.
Big fight special: Pages 35-38.