By Terence Dooley
Gary Sykes seeks to bury the ghosts of last November’s Prizefighter: The Super-Featherweights tournament later tonight when defending his British 130lb belt against Gary Buckland in Sheffield’s Ponds Forge Arena on a Hatton Promotions bill.
Sykes won his opening contest of Prizefighter, a decision over Scott Lawton, only to be wiped out in 0:45 seconds of the semi-final by a terrific right hand from Buckland. The Welshman won the competition by beating the resurgent Derry Matthews in the final; Sykes regrouped with a British title defence against Carl Johanneson in a bout that saw him hit the deck before taking a point’s win.
Buckland has looked strong since dropping down a weight in the wake of his May 2010 eleventh round stoppage loss to John Murray for the EBU and British lightweight crowns. Sykes, though, believes that he was the architect of his own misfortune last November and will put things right tonight.
“I had no fights so it was hard to get motivated so I decided to do it just to get me out but it backfired. I hadn’t been training, we got to know three weeks before but I don’t want to take nothing away from Buckland,” stated Sykes when speaking on the Main Event Boxing Show.
“I was flying, my head were in the clouds, I thought I’d walk through it and that right hand happened. I knew he’d given John Murray hard rounds but just thought I’d be too good for him over three.”
Indeed, the 27-year-old titlist feels that the chin checking knockdown against Johanneson has settled any questions over his ability to take a punch. “On paper Carl’s a harder puncher than Buckland,” insisted the 19-1 (5), Dewsbury-based boxer.
“I trained hard for Carl and would have probably got up against Buckland if he was in with me that night. Amir Khan got done by [Breidis] Prescott and you could see it switched him on in later fights, that is how I’ve got to be.”
‘Five Star’ won the 2005 ABA lightweight crown, his amateur and pro experience should have eased him to a win against Buckland, especially over the three-threes distance, only for Buckland, 23-2 (8), to live up to his ‘Dynamo’ moniker on that astonishing night.
John Murray was the last person to beat Buckland, he feels that the Cardiff-based brawler’s speed took Sykes out of his stride and could be a factor again come the first bell. “Buckland’s got fast hands, he caught Gary with a shot he didn’t see coming and that is why he got knocked out,” mused Murray.
“Gary was in my face all the time, he was so strong and is even stronger at super-feather. This fight is fifty-fifty. Buckland has the punch – it is about whether Sykes can adjust. Sykes was a very good amateur, I thought Prizefighter would have suited him but he got caught clean.”
He added: “Once Sykes gets in there it will hit him about what happened last time so it is about how he deals with the mental side of it.”
Sky Sports 3 and HD3 televise from 8pm tonight.
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