DEWSBURY’S Gary Sykes vas vowed to “dig deep” to become Commonwealth super featherweight champion by defeating Liam Walsh as part of a mouth-watering occasion in London tonight.
Chris Eubank junior faces Billy Joe Saunders with Tyson Fury taking on Dereck Chisora but Sykes is hoping to take his share of the limelight.
And while the Dewsbury star knows he’s in for an extremely tough assignment against unbeaten Commonwealth champion Walsh, the Yorkshireman says he will fight tooth and nail to add another prestigious title to his glittering career.
Sykes said: “Any belt I can get at the moment I am happy with. I’ve won the English and the British so to add the Commonwealth to that would be great. It makes you realise how big the bill is when you have a film crew coming and spending two days with you.
“This is bigger than the Amir Khan bill I fought on as there is much more depth in the quality of fights.
“I’m prepared for a tough fight but I’m willing to dig as deep as necessary to get the win.
“The track work has been good and sparring is going well. It’s always a hard spar with Terry Flanagan and I’ve been going across to the Ingle’s Gym in Sheffield. I’ve read the piece Walsh has done and he seems like a nice lad. He speaks very highly of me, which means I know he is not going to take me lightly. He’s been in Tenerife, so he’s had a really hard camp too.”
Walsh can boast former world champion Scott Harrison among his notable scalps but the Cromer boxer believes he faces the toughest fight of his career when he takes on 30-year-old Sykes.
Walsh has held the Commonwealth super featherweight title since October 2010 and, like Sykes, has had victories over Kevin Hooper and Jon Kays on his record and the Cromer man has also flirted with a move up to the lightweight division.
“This is definitely my hardest fight, bigger than Scott Harrison,” said Walsh.
“Gary is very much underrated. He works very hard, trains very hard and fights very hard.
“His only real loss has been the British title fight to Gary Buckland and that was pretty close. The other two were in Prizefighter and mean little.”
And Sykes’ trainer Julian McGowan believes tomorrow night’s winner will be on the verge of challenging for European, and possibly, world honours in 2015.
McGowan said: “If Gary beats Liam Walsh he becomes a very big player in the super featherweight division and in terms of prolonging his career, this is his biggest fight.
“A win certainly pushes Gary to the brink of a European shot and possibly a World title fight. Gary is ranked number three in the European rankings and would be next in line to fight for that title.
“Walsh is ranked no.9 by the WBO, with Gary at no.13, but victory would move him into the top.10. WBO title holder (Orlando) Salido looks set to vacate that belt, so the winner of Walsh/Sykes could get a world title shot.”
The double-title showdown forms part of the huge Dereck Chisora v Tyson Fury undercard and sees Sykes fight in front of the biggest crowd of his career with around 20,000 fans expected at the Excel Arena in London.
McGowan added: “He has consistently stepped up to fight the best domestic fighters put in front of him and that is why Gary has earned respect from the likes of Ricky Hatton, Carl Froch and David Price. There was never a doubt in Gary’s mind that when this fight was offered we would take it.”