By Shaun Brown
Gary Sykes 26-3 (5) will be looking for history to repeat itself when he takes on Jon Kays 18-3-1 (4) for the vacant British super featherweight title in Dewsbury, Yorkshire tonight. A bout that will be screened live and free on www.vipboxing.tv
Just over a year ago, Sykes defeated Kays to claim the English title with a UD10 victory after the judges scored it 97-94 (twice) and 96-95 to the 30 year old. Despite already having the better of tonight’s opponent, Sykes is taking nothing for granted.
“We’re not looking at like we’re fighting Jon Kays, we’re looking at more as getting the British belt,” he told BoxingScene. “I’ve had good sparring, we’ve travelled for sparring and not underestimated him at all. We’re not treating it as a given that we’ll beat him. We’ve worked hard and I’m probably in better shape this time. I don’t want to get complacent at all and I think they might be banking on that. That’s not going to happen, not at all.”
Sykes, who is looking to become a two-time holder of the Lonsdale belt at 130lbs (having won it originally in 2011) was beginning to feel like things had gone too smoothly in his preparation for the rematch with Kays.
“I’m a little bit paranoid because things are going too good! I’m a bit like ‘Oh it’s going too well, something’s gonna go wrong’. I get a bit anxious because in my career because of everything like fighters pulling out on me. I can’t really explain it.”
One of those fighters has been the unbeaten Commonwealth super featherweight champion Liam Walsh 15-0 (10). Both he and Sykes had been scheduled to fight each other earlier this year but was postponed due to a Walsh injury. The winner of tonight’s fight is due to face him as part of the Tyson Fury-Dereck Chisora 2 undercard on Jul 26 in Manchester. Sykes, however, wants a bit more reassurance that he will be fighting someone on that date.
“I hope there’s something down in writing that I get a replacement if something goes wrong. In my career I’ve had a lot of setbacks with people pulling out and it’s not fair when you’ve trained and put your body through all that so I hope something can be put down in writing for a replacement.
“I was meant to box him originally in 2011 before I fought in Prizefighter. I thought I was boxing him [this year] on Feb 15. Then that got put back till 16 Apr then that fell through. I’ve been down to box him so many times I just generally think that fight will never happen.”
The British scene at super featherweight is currently wide open and is waiting for someone, like tonight’s winner, to grab the division by scruff of the neck. Names such as; Joe Murray, Mitchell Smith, Ronnie Clark, Troy James and John Quigley are likely challengers to the new champion during the rest of 2014. But Sykes believes there is one other who isn’t at the level he maybe thinks he is.
“Stephen Smith is saying he’s above British level. I don’t think he’s proved that. He beat Gary Buckland (KO5) which was a great performance then he just jumped saying he was at world level. He hasn’t cleaned up really. My plan is to clean up. I’d love him [Smith] to get a version of the world belt. Then I’d be calling him out to try and get a shot at that.”
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