British super-featherweight champion Gary Sykes returns to the ring on tomorrow night at Huddersfield Leisure Centre after taking stock of his first career setback last November, when Gary Buckland shocked the Dewsbury man in the first round of his Prizefighter semi-final.
The 27 year-old was 17-0 going into the tournament and heavy favourite to take the £32,000 cheque, before a lapse in concentration saw him badly knocked out within a minute of the opening bell, leaving him devastated at his first professional loss.
He now returns to defend his title against former Lonsdale belt holder Carl Johanneson (30-4) in a Yorkshire derby, which has all the makings of a classic and Sykes is confident he can get back to winning ways.
“I can’t wait to get back in the ring,” Sykes told World Boxing News.
“First of all to put that Prizefighter setback behind me, but mainly getting back into the 12 round format, because I feel that suits me down to a tee and I haven’t defended my title since May last year (when he defeated Anthony Crolla on points).
“Johanneson and Buckland are the two fights I wanted more than any. The Johanneson fight really excites me, when I turned pro, I signed with the same promoter as Carl and trained along side him a few times. I looked up to him at the time as he was British champion, so to get his scalp in a local derby would be amazing.
“The Buckland fight is one I want just to settle the score, I know it’s a fight I can win and should of first time round, but with it being three rounds, I rushed things, got caught and paid the price. So I really want both fights in any order,” added the British champion.
It looks like a busy year ahead for the Yorkshireman, with two victories almost certain to land him at least a European title shot by the end of the year, but with Buckland, seemingly already at European level at lightweight, he may not be willing to move back down for Sykes.
Phil D. Jay
Gary Sykes v Carl Johanneson is live on Sky Sports 1 from 8pm tomorrow night
Support bout: George Groves v Daniel Allotey.