Sykes camp ready for historic night

Team Sykes: Julian McGowan, Gary Sykes, John Tallant and Bob Shannon after Gary's victory over Jon Kays for the English title last April.
Team Sykes: Julian McGowan, Gary Sykes, John Tallant and Bob Shannon after Gary's victory over Jon Kays for the English title last April.

Gary Sykes will aim to write himself into Dewsbury sporting folklore on Saturday night by capturing the Lonsdale belt outright.

The 30-year-old from Dewsbury Moor admits it is the biggest night of his career and has says he’s never felt as excited before a fight.

It promises to be a special occasion for those attending, with Sykes and his close-knit team counting down the hours until the ringwalk.

Sykes said: “I’ve had people stopping me in the street and wishing me luck but I can’t let the occasion get to me as I know I have a job to do.

“The last time we fought I just ground out the win but this time will be different, in every minute of every round all I’m going to be thinking of is getting hold of that belt.

“The best Jonny Kays doesn’t beat the worst Gary Sykes and winning on Saturday will have made my career worthwhile and I will have achieved something special.”

Trainer Julian McGowan has seen a change in Sykes over the last 12 months and admits his charge is now in his prime.

McGowan, who leads Sykes into his seventh championship fight on Saturday, said: “When Gary was British champion before he didn’t live the life of a fighter.

“People mature at different ages and perhaps Gary wasn’t ready for the stardom that comes with a champion and an undefeated fighter.

“Gary has grown up and changed over the past 12 to 18 months and he now has what it takes to handle being British champion.

“Before the Femi Fehintola fight people were asking had Sykes seen his best days?

“He answered emphatically that his best days are not behind him and he is getting better and I think Gary is now in his prime.”

Sykes has had to take the hard route back to the top, winning and then defending the English title to earn his British shot.

He defeated a previously unbeaten Kevin Hooper in Cleethorpes and then beat Kays in Sheffield last April.

Convincing victories over Mark McKray and Fehintola followed at the end of last year and although proposed British title fights against Liam Walsh twice fell through, the Dewsbury man is now on the verge of capturing the Lonsdale belt outright.

McGowan added: “When Gary lost the belt to Gary Buckland, I asked was I partly to blame and did we get the tactics right. I’ve not settled since then and we have spent 32 months in the wilderness but I think Saturday will be a poignant moment for us all.”