Sykes title opponent Smith is suspended

Gary Sykes overcame Kevin Hooper to win the English super featherweight title in March and, finally, hopes to get a shot for the British.
Gary Sykes overcame Kevin Hooper to win the English super featherweight title in March and, finally, hopes to get a shot for the British.

The scheduled opponent for Gary Sykes’ British super feathweight title fight has been suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control.

Liverpool’s Stephen Smith has been suspended pending a hearing following contractual wranglings between the boxer and rival promoters.

In a further twist Smith, who won the British title with a one-punch knock-out over Gary Buckland in August, has relinquished his belt.

The BBBoC had ordered Smith to make the first defence of his British title against Dewsbury’s mandatory challenger Sykes and the bout was sanctioned to take place at the Liverpool Echo Arena on December 7 on a bill promoted by Frank Warren.

That would have been a history making night of boxing as Stephen’s two brothers, Paul and Liam, were due to defend their respective British super middle and light middleweight titles.

Last month, Smith’s solicitors announced that he had parted company withWarren’s Queensberry promotions, putting a potential title showdown with Sykes in jeopardy.

Smith subsequently announced he was teaming up with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport and was due to fight on the Carl Froch v George Groves bill in Manchester on November 23.

The Board backed Sykes and his team and insisted Smith must defend against the Dewsbury man on December 7, a decision which prompted him to vacate the belt.

Smith will now not be allowed to fight until a hearing resolves the promotional situation and the Board could step in to put forward another fighter to challenge Sykes for the now vacant super featherweight strap.

Among the favourites to be put forward to is unbeaten Cromer fighter, Liam Walsh, who is the current Commonwealth super featherweight title holder.

Walsh won that title by beating Maxwell Awuku in October 2010 and successfully defended the crown against Jon Kays and Paul Appleby.

A spell of inactivity followed for the Norwich man before he stepped up to lightweight to win the WBO European title.

He was back down at super feather in September when he edged out Joe Murray in a majority points decision to again defend his Commonwealth crown.

Sykes has spent two long years getting himself back in a position to challenge for the British super featherweight belt he lost to Buckland in September 2o11 but he will be hoping a deserved shot will be just around the corner.

Gary Sykes has fought seven times since losing his British title to a narrow points decision against Gary Buckland in September 2011.

The Dewsbury Moor man returned to the ring with a points victory over Dean Mills in Hull in March 2012 and then stepped up to lightweight to compete in that October’s Prizefighter tournament in Liverpool.

Sykes overcame then unbeaten fighter Tommy Coyle in Prizefighter and beat Anthony Crolla before losing a split decision in the final against Terry Flannigan.

Sykes won the vacant English super feathweight title in March this year, beating another unbeaten prospect Kevin Hooper, in Cleethorpes and successfully defended against Jon Kays in Sheffield.

Sykes beat Mark McKray in September and will now look to challenge for the British title.