GARY SYKES will face Bulgaria’s Valentin Stoychev at Huddersfield Sports Centre on Saturday in the first of two warm-up bouts ahead of his big British super-featherweight title defence against Gary Buckland in October.

The 27-year-old Dewsbury star, who may have to hand home advantage to Welshman Buckland after Hatton Promotions won the purse-bids battle, will also be in action on a Sky Sports bill at Doncaster on September 3.

Huddersfield trainer Chris Aston, who is Sykes’ fight manager, saw Stoychev first hand when he suffered a points defeat by home fighter Steven Hale in Doncaster in March and predicted: “He’s a natural lightweight who will give Gary a good work-out.

“We’ll be keeping Gary in the gym between now and the Buckland fight, and two six rounders combined with the work he does out of the ring should keep him nice and sharp for a fight we’re all looking forward to.”

Beating Buckland would earn Sykes a Lonsdale belt outright as well as a possible European title tilt, and the man whose three previous British title fights have all been in Huddersfield said he isn’t worried at having to travel.

“It’s a shame for my own fans, because I wanted to box here in West Yorkshire, preferably in Dewsbury but if not Huddersfield or Halifax,” said Sykes, whose only professional defeat was by Buckland in Sky’s Prizefighter competition.

“But on the positive side I will be going down there without the pressure of fighting at home and winning the belt outright is a huge incentive.”

While Sykes will be seeking a 19th win in 20 outings on Saturday, light-welterweight Tyrone Nurse will aim to stretch his 100% record to 18 bouts at the expense of Ben Lawlor, the former soldier from Skegness.

His fellow Huddersfield fighters, super- middleweights Burt Warren and Jason McCalmon, will face Sheffield’s Dean Walker and Ashington’s Ian Turnbull respectively.

Tickets are available from Aston on 07917 881114, with fans invited to the after-show party at the Barking Spider in the town centre.