Gary Sykes had to pick himself up off the canvas to retain his British super-featherweight title against Carl Johanneson at Huddersfield Leisure Centre on Saturday night.

The Yorkshire derby between Sykes from Dewsbury and Johannson from Leeds didn’t disappoint in what was a gritty display from both boxers producing a classic match-up.

Sykes was made to call on all his reserve to keep at bay the spirited challenge from Johannson, eventually taking a unanimous decision on the judges scorecards 116-112, 115-112 and 115-113.

The champion started the fight very well, boxing behind a good jab, he was using the ring and giving Johannson lots of angles catching the slower challenger with good combinations.

Johanneson was able to catch-up with Sykes though in round four and got off some goods punches of his own that knocked Sykes out of his rhythm and Johannson began to have his own successes, notably a big right in round six that rocked Sykes and the former champion continued to pushed forward not taking a backwards step.

Sykes retains Lonsdale Belt
Sykes’ work though was always that little bit sharper and his volume of shot accuracy was catching the judges eyes. Then in the ninth a big right hand landed on Sykes jaw sending him crashing to the floor. Visions of last years ‘Prizefighter’ knockout loss to Gary Buckland flashed before us. But Sykes recovered well from the hard knockdown, regained his composure and after a stern dressing down from his corner came out in the tenth to take the fight back to Johannson.

The knockdown seemed to had spurred Sykes on and gaining his second wind he jumped on Johannson pushing back his challenger and taking any play away that the Leed’s man had gained in the ninth.

It was now Sykes backing up Johannson and he was able to take the final rounds with some good counter punching and his desire to hang onto his Lonsdale belt.

Both fighters embraced at the end of what had been a fantastic fight between the two former sparring partners and Johannson can be proud of his efforts, but it was Sykes who just had the edge in the end.

Speaking after the fight, an elated Sykes told Sky Sports: “To beat him means the world to me.

“When I first sparred with him I never thought I could last 12 rounds let alone beat him.

Johanneson added: “He outboxed me and fair dos. I thought I had him but he recovered well and fair play to him.”

Unbeaten Commonwealth middleweight champion George Groves knocked out Ghanian southpaw Daniel Adotey Allotey in round four on the undercard, as he waits to face British champion and rival James DeGale later in the year.

Groves had a relatively easy nights work against Allotey and picked apart his man before a big right hand in the fourth spun Allotey around and a follow up right dropped him.

Allotey got up at eight but another right from Groves felled him again and the referee waved it off at 1.53 of the round.

It looks now, that Groves will eventually meet James DeGale in an all British fight that promises to be one of the biggest domestic dust-ups of the year.

“I’m very happy. I was aiming to put a few things I have been working on in the gym into the ring. It was the perfect opponent, very awkward, very gangly, long arms, very strong, exactly what we needed and I’m very happy.” Groves told SkySports afterwards.

“It would have been stupid not to get a southpaw in with the James DeGale fight coming up.”

On the DeGale fight Groves added. “It will be a Groves win.

“Whether it comes by knockout or points, I don’t really care. He knows that I’ve got his number and he’s going to struggle to sleep in the preparation for this fight because he is going to have to be on his brain all the time.”

Trainer Adam Booth added: “The fight has to happen. I have been speaking with James’ people on a daily basis and we are very close to making an announcement.”

Belfast’s Carl Frampton boxed a controlled fight from centre ring to stop hardened Venezuelan Oscar ‘El Sapo’ Chacin in the 4th round.

The super-bantamweight prospect managed by former world champion Barry McGuigan, controlled the fight in the early rounds from a tight solid defence, and opened a cut on his opponents left eye in the 3rd round.

Chacin proved to be a game foe for Frampton and his persistence and durability gave the unbeaten Irish man a good fight, before his bravery turned to pain and he had to succumb to Frampton’s heavy digs in the fourth. Referee John Keane was forced to step in and call a halt to proceedings towards the end of the round.

Good things are being said about Frampton and he didn’t disappoint in this is latest outing which took his unbeaten run to 9 fights. He was calm and composed in everything he did although the fight did get a little messy at times and the ref had to warn both.

A bloodied nose to Frampton seemed to spur him on to finish the job and his hard hooks to head and body of El Sapo’ were taking there toll and the grimace on the Venezuelans face and with the bad cut over his left eye the end looked nigh. It was and ref Keane had another look at the cut and waved the fight over.

Tyrone Nurse

Local favorite Tyrone Nurse was pushed all the way over six rounds by Swansea battler Damian Owen but eventually took the fight on points 58-57.

Nurse 21, is a tall rangy light-welterweight with a good long reaching jab and this in mind Owen tried to rush him early and rough him on the inside but Nurse used his tools to good effect and controlled the fight from the outside while looking to throw a swift right uppercut as Owen came in.

Owen, who had not fought since July 2009, looked in very good shape despite his layoff and as a result was able to fight on the front foot at a good pace. Owen continued to stalk and call his man in, and when in range whacked away at Nurses head and body, but the Huddersfield stylist covered up well, showing improved defensive skills.

Tyrone Nurse (left) and Damian Owen

In the 3rd round a good right hand bounced off Owen’s head, sending the spray out of the ring, which then got the Tyrone Nurse Barmy Army fans in full voice cheering him on. But Owen, who had come for a good old Yorkshire tear up himself was inspired and his very good left hook to the body hit Nurse hard as Owen came on.

In the fourth round Owen was able to draw Nurse into his fight and both stood toe to toe, Nurse with his back to the ropes traded with the Welshman in his version of the rope a dope, the round finished with both trading meaty blows.

Nurse went back to his more effective boxing stance and a double jab right hand, knocked the head back of Owen who was always willing to be in fighting range.

Nurse you felt would have been more effective throwing combination punches more often, but he was content to throw single jabs and one twos, they were scoring but the good long jab he has can open up an opponent, where he must then take advantage and not admire his work.

Owen was able to knock Nurse out of his comfort zone at times, but both finished the fight strong and Nurse had done enough good work in the fight with cleaner shots to see the referee raise his arm to the frustration and objection of Owen, who thought he had won the fight.

Tyrone Nurse is a good prospect with plenty of skills a good long jab that he must sting his opponents with and use it to his advantage, working on his combination punching and throwing more shots can improve his unbeaten 9 fight run and is a very interesting addition to the British light-welterweight party.

Alastair Warren

Huddersfields Alastair Warren drew over 4 rounds against busy Latvian Pavels Lotahs, the referee had it two rounds a piece 38-38.

Lotahs hurried and pushed the 23 year-old Yorkshireman for every minute of each round, but Warren was able to land his own decent shots, showing a good punch variety inside.

In the last round Warren was looking to land a big right hand as Lotahs came marauding in. Warren was never able to find the shots to deter the Latvian and he deserved his draw on away ground in a good competitive fight.

Middlesbrough’s Paul Truscott had his first fight of the year, winning comfortably over 6 rounds – 60-55 against Hungarian Zsolt Nagy.

other undercard results to follow

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