Meticulous McGowan plots Sykes’ route to glory

Close bond: Gary Sykes and trainer Julian McGowan celebrate the Dewsbury man's British title victory in May.
Close bond: Gary Sykes and trainer Julian McGowan celebrate the Dewsbury man's British title victory in May.

Meticulous boxing trainer Julian McGowan will leave no stone unturned as he plots another night of glory for Dewsbury star Gary Sykes.

McGowan has painstakingly studied hours of footage from opponent Liam Walsh as the pair clash for the British and Commonwealth super featherweight titles at London’s ExCeL Arena on Saturday night.

The double title fight comes on, arguably, the biggest boxing show of the year with at least four top quality bouts on a stacked bill, to be played out in front of 20,000 fans.

McGowan said: “Walsh is a tough fighting man, a good boxer, big hitter and sharp shooter but he has been pretty inactive and has only had three fights in the last four years.

“I think ultimately the fight could come down to endurance and who has the better engine in the latter rounds.

“Domestically, Gary is vastly experienced, he has twice the number of fights than Walsh and you have to look at that as a key factor.

“You can’t name another boxer who has consistently fought the best opponents out there to get to where we are now.

“We forced the British Boxing Board’s hand to give us a shot at the British title by beating the best super featherweights out there — an unbeaten Kev Hooper, Jon Kays and Femi Fehintola.”

Sykes won the British title, and the coveted Lonsdale belt outright, by beating Kays for a second time in May.

The Dewsbury Moor man endured an injury ravaged few months, which saw the tip of a finger amputated, but he is now ready to make an explosive return to the ring on Saturday.

McGowan added: “Walsh has had a 14 week camp away in Tenerife, while Gary has trained for six or seven weeks once he was given the all clear from injury but he has worked intensively during the time we have had.

“We have sought the best sparring opponents, with Terry Flanagan, who I believe is the top European lightweight, and have also been to the Ingles Gym in Sheffield, who are notorious for producing switch hitting opponents, with good hand speed.

“I see this as a 12-round distance fight but if Gary can impose his rhythm, we are confident he will win the fight.

“Gary Sykes is a fearless fighter, we have come up against Anthony Crolla twice, Andy Morris, Kevin O’Hara, Carl Johanneson, Gary Buckland, Tommy Coyle, Kev Hooper and Jonny Kays — the best domestic fighters around.

“No one else has a record to match and that is why Gary is respected and admired by some of the biggest names in boxing.”

Saturday’s bumper bill is topped by the huge heavyweight fight between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora, with bitter middleweights Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank junior also clashing with three titles on the line.

McGowan admits his team will block out the occasion and concentrate on their own fight, saying: “The magnitude of the event, the size of the arena and the crowd are irrelevant.

“This is a big night in Gary’s career but victory could lead to even bigger things and our only focus is on Liam Walsh.”

Sykes and his team will travel to London early on Friday morning, ahead of the weigh-in at the Empire Cinema in Leicester Square.

The show is being screened live on specialist boxing channel BoxNation from 7pm and a half-hour documentary charting the career of Sykes will be shown on Friday at 10pm.

Around 150 Sykes supporters from Dewsbury are expected to be at the ExCeL Arena for the fight.