DEWSBURY’S gARY Sykes says he is out to demonstrate his British and Commonwealth title claims loud and clear in Leeds this weekend.
English super featherweight title holder Sykes will take on Bradford’s Femi Fehintola as part of a stellar night’s boxing at the First Direct Arena tomorrow evening.
The card is highlighted by Stuart Hall’s IBF World Bantamweight title fight against South African Vusi Malinga but Sykes has a British and Commonwealth fight of his own coming up in February.
Thirty months have passed since the popular Yorkshireman lost his British title to Gary Buckland but in two months’ time the Dewsbury Moor ace will meet Liam Walsh in London for the British and Commowealth super featherweight title.
And fired-up 29-year-old Sykes wants to show Cromer-based Walsh exactly what he’ll be facing by showcasing his talents in Leeds.
“I want to end the year with a bang and give Liam Walsh something to think about before we meet,” said Sykes.
“I want to try and get away from being the forgotten man and perhaps I’ll start to become a bit more noticed.
“I want to send a statement of intent out with my performance, although I am not looking past Femi and I have trained for this as though it’s a title fight.
“Basically this is a title fight in all but name.
“The fight has been set at 9st 7lb, just above the super featherweight limit, we will weigh-in the day before the fight as we would if it was for a title and it is being shown on telly.”
The weigh-in for tomorrow’s fight takes place at The Hilton Hotel, Leeds, today at 1pm and is open to the public.
And Sykes is hugely excited about tomorrow’s fight at a stunning new venue and in front of his very own passionate Yorkshire fans.
Sykes – unbeaten in 2013 and preparing for the 25th bout of his professional career – revealed: “I’ve just about sold out of my £30 tickets for this fight, which has surprised me so close to Christmas.
“But already there has been huge interest in the Walsh fight even though it’s in London.”
Fehintola – Sykes’ opponent – also spent a short time training out of Sykes’ base at the Central Boxing Club in Batley, which has added spice to the derby showdown.
The Bradford man has a decent record of just two defeats in 26 fights, but both his losses came in title fights.
Sykes won and successfully defended the English super featherweight title earlier this year, with victories over Kevin Hooper in Cleethorpes and Jonny Kays at the Sheffield Arena.
He also won a non-title six-round bout against Mark McKray in September and is chasing a fourth win of 2013 before turning his focus to the biggest night of his career in February.
Sykes’ fight is part of a fantastic night of boxing, with 2007 World Amateur Boxing Champion Frankie Gavin also on the card, and defending his Commonwealth title against Joseph Lamptey.
Also in action are local boxers Lewis Taylor, Dave Allen, China Clarke and Steve Mennell.
Hall – heading the card – is from Darlington and bids to become only the second-ever world champion from the North East.