Sparring partners are most avoided

Avoided fighters: Dewsbury's Gary Sykes and Manchester's Terry Flannigan during last year's Prizefighter tournemant.' Picture: Javed Iqbal
Avoided fighters: Dewsbury's Gary Sykes and Manchester's Terry Flannigan during last year's Prizefighter tournemant.' Picture: Javed Iqbal
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Boxing trainer Julian McGowan believes his charge Gary Sykes and Manchester’s Terry Flannigan have become the most avoided fighters in Britain.

The former Prizefighter rivals have been sparring as Dewsbury star Sykes prepares for a shot at the British super featherweight title.

Flannigan defeated Sykes on a split decision in Prizefighter 12 months ago but like the Dewsbury Moor man he has struggled to secure lucrative big fights.

McGowan said: “I believe Gary and Terry are the most overlooked domestic fighters at the moment and if you had seen them spar you would know why. The sessions have been competitive and just like real fights.

“Terry can’t get a fight for love nor money. He is an excellent fighter and unbeaten and is the same position as us, where he seems to have become avoided.

“When Gary and Terry got to the Prizefighter final, they beat the two pre-tournament favourites — Derry Matthews and Anthony Crolla — but it is those two who have gone on to have the big fights.”

Sykes will have had four brutal sparring sessions with Flannigan by this weekend as the 29-year-old builds towards his shot at the British super featherweight crown.

Sykes is the mandatory challenger to Stephen Smith’s Lonsdale belt but there was a further twist surounding that bout this week when the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) stepped in regarding contractual arguments.

Smith’s first title defence against Sykes is due to be held at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on December 7 but the holder had hoped to fight on the Carl Froch v George Groves undercard in Manchester on November 23 after apparantly switching promoters from Frank Warren to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport.

A statement issued by the Board this week read: “The British Boxing Board of Control have decided that British super featherweight champion Stephen Smith will not be allowed to defend his title on any promotion other than that of Frank Warren, which is scheduled for Saturday December 7 at the Liverpool Echo Arena against Gary Sykes.”

Robert Smith, General Secretary of the BBBofC, stated on Monday that until the Board has heard the dispute and made a decision, Stephen Smith “will not be able to appoint another person to act on his behalf as manager nor will he be able to negotiate with others on his own behalf. It follows that, the Board will not allow him to participate in a contest arranged by a third party.”