Boxing: Sykes is fired up for double title challenge

Gary Sykes (red) in action against Femi Fehintola.
Gary Sykes (red) in action against Femi Fehintola.
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DEWSBURY ace Gary Sykes says he determined to make the most of now as a 2013 double-title belt looms.

Sykes held the British super featherweight championship belt from March 2010 until September 2011– a period in which he was 26 and 27 years old.

And as he now nears his 30th birthday, the Yorkshireman is relishing the opportunity to fight for both the Commonwealth and British titles in the new year.

Sykes will fight Liam Walsh for both belts in London on February 22 – just nine days after his 30th birthday.

But Sykes showed that he is arguably as good as ever when defeating Femi Fehintola at Leeds Arena only last weekend.

The fourth decade of the Yorkshireman’s life is approaching and the popular fighter is intent on making the most of every available opportunity.

“I’m nearly 30 now, so I need to be taking these fights when I can,” said Sykes, who defeated Fehintola on points last weekend,

“Like in any fight it would have been nice to have got the stoppage but I think I gave him a bit of a beating in there to be honest.

“I showed what level I am at, which is a level above Femi.

“He came in and thought he was going to gatecrash my shot at the British and Commonwealth title but there was no way I was going to let that happen.

“I take risks, I’m a boxer and have always stepped up. I’ve been in Prizefighter twice and was going to box (world champion) Adrien Broner.

“I’ve shown that I’m always in a good fight and I’ll do that again when I meet Liam Walsh, I’ll do whatever it takes to win that fight.

“I was in really good shape for an eight-round fight but when I box Walsh it is for two titles and over 12 rounds, so I’m determined to be in the best shape ever.

“We didn’t want to get caught out for this fight by thinking too far ahead and looking to Liam Walsh.

“Now this is out of the way we can just concentrate on Walsh and getting the tactics right.”

Following last weekend’s victory, Sykes’ immediate thoughts were on Christmas and spending some quality time with his daughter Layla. But there was scant time for over-indulging with Sykes set to begin a gruelling eight-week camp beginning on January 1 in readiness for his fight with Walsh.

Sykes said: “I’ll tick over during Christmas week and go on a few runs to keep my fitness level up and be ready for the new year.

“I am able to enjoy a half of shandy but the new year is when it all starts and we will be in the gym on New Year’s Day ready to go.” A mini rest of sorts is also being enjoyed by Sykes’ trainer Julian McGowan, who admits preparing his man for such battles takes its toll.

However, McGowan is already relishing Sykes’ next battle with the trainer also having warm words for his fighter’s fans.

McGowan said: “The fans are great.

“This last fight was four days before Christmas and people don’t have a lot of money but they have come out and followed Gary again and I’m immensely proud of them. They are part of the team.

“I can now relax and enjoy the Christmas period after what has been a stressful few months with boxing, work and family life.

“I haven’t taken the shots but I feel like I’ve done eight rounds with Sykes.

“We’ve three or four days off but we’ll be back in the gym on New Year’s Day as we prepare for a tricky box of tricks we have in Liam Walsh.”

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