BOXER Gary Sykes says he has not taken his previous victory over British title opponent Jon Kays for granted in his preparation for his latest shot at the belt.
Sykes overcame Kays on points in the defence of his English title last year and he now faces the Ashton under Lyne boxer for the Lonsdale belt tomorrow (Sat) at Dewsbury Sports Centre.
The super featherweight British title shot has been a long time coming for the Dewsbury fighter, after he lost the belt to Welshman Gary Buckland in Sheffield back in 2011.
Since then he has clawed his way back into contention with a series of impressive victories – including a win over previously unbeaten boxer Gary Hooper for the English title and Anthony Crolla in the Prizefighter
However, the local fighter has also had his share of disappointment along the way – picking up the title of most avoided fighter following a series of high-profile fighters withdrawing from bouts.
One such withdrawal saw American hot prospect and WBO world champion Adrien Broner pull out of a world title fight in Las Vegas.
But the focus now switches from the glitz and glamour of the fight capital of the world to Dewsbury – and Sykes says he would have it no other way.
“In my home town to win it outright I can't think of anything better,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to getting out in front of my home crowd but I will be sure to not let the occasion get to me, I’m just going to enjoy it.
“I can’t picture it any better, for that belt in my home town, I’ve fought in Huddersfield but when it matters I am fighting in my home town.”
And Sykes admits he is focused completely on claiming the belt outright, rather than on his opponent.
He said: “It has been a great camp, I’ve beaten Jonny Kays before but we haven’t taken it for granted.
“We have gone out of our comfort zone, we have been sparring with Lee Selby in Wales, so we haven’t taken it as a given that we are going to win.
“We have trained hard and I had my last 12 rounds on the pads on Monday and I was on fire. So everything is really perfect and really on course.
“I don’t see it as boxing Jon Kays I see it as boxing for that British title so that is the main objective, getting that title.
“Hopefully all the hard work will pay off, I just have to put it all together on fight night.
“If or when I win you will probably see some tears from me, even when I think about it I get tingles on my body so I can’t even explain what it is going to be like.
“For the Broner fight I was in outstanding shape and for this one I think I’m up there with that one.”
Trainer Julian McGowan says that this is the best he has ever seen Gary and he was left speechless by Syke’s impressive display on Monday in his final pads session.
He said: “This is where it matters really, previously he had the chance to win the Lonsdale belt outright against Gary Buckland and it was a lot of pressure fighting a guy who had already beaten him.
“But the reality is that Gary was still only 26/27 so he still had time to come back if it didn’t go right.
“Whereas now at 30 years old and after being kept out for so long we don’t have time to get this wrong, we can’t afford to get this wrong.
“Gary has been avoided – that is not a boastful claim it’s a statement of fact – when he was British champion we struggled to get defences.
“When he lost his title we had to go on the road and it has been painful, long and frustrating.
“We have had a cancelled world title fight pulled away from us, an unlucky decision in Prizefighter, we’ve fought in fighters backyards and kept busy just to get this opportunity.”
Meanwhile, Tony Aitcheson will be aiming to continue his unbeaten run in the professional ranks as he takes on Dee Mitchell on the undercard.
Mitchell, 37, is a veteran journeyman who has fought in 69 professional bouts and lost 59 ñ with only two of those coming by stoppage.
The fight is likely to be early on the fightcard as trainer Julian McGowan has to be in Aitcheson’s corner before he takes his place in Sykes corner for the main fight.
Any remaining tickets will be on sale at the official public weigh-in today (Fri) at Dewsbury Town Hall at 1pm.