GARY SYKES will fight for a vacant British title before the end of the year, according to trainer Julian McGowan.
On Wednesday Matchroom Sport chief Eddie Hearn revealed how current super-featherweight champion Stephen Smith would not be making a first defence of his crown against the Dewsbury fighter.
And as a result, the Liverpudlian is expected to be stripped of his Lonsdale belt in the coming weeks.
Sykes, 29, had originally agreed to step away from a proposed final eliminator clash, providing he would face the winner of Smith and former champion Gary Buckland.
An agreement was made by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) and Smith went on to defeat Buckland back in August.
‘Five-Star’ Sykes has been waiting for his shot ever since, however it seems he will now not face his former England amateur teammate in December.
The BBBofC are understood to have told Smith he will lose his title unless he fought Sykes before the end of 2013.
But having recently parted company with manager Frank Warren in favour of a move to Hearn’s Matchroom, Smith no longer wishes to appear on his former boss’s December show.
Hearn claims Smith was willing to battle Sykes on November 23, but Hearn claims the BBBofC are preventing that from happening.
“The situation is quite simple as I see it, Stephen Smith will not be fighting Gary Sykes on December 7,” he said.
“I never confirmed the fight with Gary Sykes, he has an obligation to fight Gary Sykes. We were happy to meet that on November 23.
“It is up to the board, but Stephen never signed an agreement for that fight.
Clearly the Sykes fight won’t be happening, but we have some interesting announcements to make.
“He has made his feelings known to the board and he won’t be boxing on December 7.”
Regardless of Smith’s immediate future, McGowan is adamant his man will get his shot inside eight weeks.
And he has revealed to The Press how Sykes’ manager, Steve Wood, is now working towards securing one of three date.
“It is clear now that Stephen Smith and Gary Sykes will go their separate ways.
“We will fight for the vacant title and it will be this year, there is little doubt about that.
“I have spoken to Steve Wood who has three dates in mind, but there are dependencies.
“Smith has to formally vacate or actually fight on November 23 before the board can strip him.
“The board then have to mandate another challenger. Who knows who it will be, but Gary is the best super-featherweight in Britain and we fear no-one in the division.
“All we can do is keep sharp. The three dates range from the end of November to late December, so we have a window to get ready.”