Sykes hits the north to spar WBO world champion Burns

Gary Sykes with world Lightweight champion Ricky Burns.
Gary Sykes with world Lightweight champion Ricky Burns.

Gary Sykes headed north of the border this week for three days of sparring with WBO world lightweight champion Ricky Burns.

Two-weight world champion Burns will defend his WBO crown against Raymundo Beltran in Glasgow next Saturday and chose the Dewsbury boxer to provide him with the vital final rounds of sparring.

Trainer Julian McGowan made the 10-hour round trip to Scotland on Monday before leaving his charge in the capable hands of conditioner John Tallant for Tuesday and Wednesday’s sessions.

McGowan said: “Anybody in boxing will tell you, the most crucial part of sparring in preparation for a fight is the final week and the Burns camp chose Gary Sykes for that.

“Burns is ripped and ready for his world title fight and I won’t lie, at times the sparring was brutal, but I am proud of the way Gary coped.

“Burns is renowned for knocking out sparring partners but Gary stayed with him and Ricky spoke very highly of their sparring sessions — they said we would be welcome back anytime.”

Sykes has a shot at the British super featherweight title, against Liverpool’s Stephen Smith, in November and McGowan knows how important preparations for that fight will be.

McGowan added: “We will have some more quality sparring lined up for Gary and we will be hitting the road to find that.

“Gary is just starting his camp but we will leave no stone unturned as we look to win the Lonsdale belt outright.

“Stephen Smith is a top class fighter but my only concern is what Gary Sykes brings to the table come fight night.”

Purse bids for Smith’s first title defence against Sykes are due on September 11.

ykes will have a warm-up fight to his British title clash when he boxes at Elland Road on September 27 on the undercard to Josh Warrington’s English featherweight title fight.

Although an opponent for Sykes is to be finalised Mark McKray, a North London based Jamaican is being mooted.

Tickets are on sale from the Central Boxing Club in Batley.