McGowan - Defence was key

TRAINER Julian McGowan claims “flawless defence” was what saw Gary Sykes to English super-featherweight title success over Kevin Hooper.

Sykes, 29, demonstrated an ability to prevent whatever his opponent threw at him from landing during last Friday’s triumph in Cleethorpes – the 23rd of his pro career.

A ‘double-block’ had been at the centre of everything behind Central Boxing Club’s closed doors during ‘Five-Star’s’ gruelling 12-week training camp, which stemmed from the collapse of last year’s world-title bout with Adrien Broner according to McGowan.

“He did as he was told,” he said. “He was picking out the shots we have worked on and his defence was absolutely superb.

“We have worked on nothing more than the double block in the gym and it all started from training for (Adrien) Broner.

“I knew that one slip against him would have seen Gary get knocked out, so by looking at Broner allowed me to pick up on the glaring mistakes which an elite fighter would have capitalised on.

“Kevin failed to land the majority of his shots, but Gary’s defence was behind that. It left him relatively untouched ahead of the closing rounds. And that allowed us to really push, finishing Hooper off.”

“I heard people whispering that they had the fight much closer, but Gary was by far the most dominant fighter.

“The crowd made a big difference, but Gary was a clear winner.

“The belt is nice, but it more about confirming his place at the top of the rankings and remaining relevant.

“We have sent a message out with this. We have beaten a top-eight ranked lightweight, for a title, in his own back yard. How many people are prepared to do that on non-television shows and for very little cash.

“Gary could have earned what he has here against a journeyman in a six-rounder and that is what a lot of people are doing these days. That is not what we are about.”

Meanwhile, McGowan has heaped praise on co-trainer John Tallant. Tallant, Sykes’ strength and conditioning coach, worked tirelessly in order for the Dewsbury fighter to come in just below the 9st 4lbs super-featherweight limit last week.

And without his efforts, McGowan insists his fighter could have be facing an entirely different outcome.

“The condition that John has got him into has been absolute superb.

“John will hide away, but he deserves a heap of credit. Without his presence, Gary would be nowhere near the fighter he was in Cleethorpes.”

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