GARY SYKES must use his speed and fitness to retain his British super-featherweight title against Carl Johanneson at Huddersfield Sports Centre tonight.
That’s the message from his manager and co-trainer, Chris Aston, as 26-year-old Sykes goes toe to toe with his old friend from Leeds in a mandatory second defence of the Lonsdale belt which Johanneson, 33, once held.
It’s live on Sky TV – doors open at 5pm and filming begins an hour later – and Aston is hoping Sykes, from Dewsbury, can provide the highlight in what is a sell-out occasion for the fight game in this area.
“The key for Gary is to box and move,” explained Aston, who also has Tyrone Nurse and the rest of the Huddersfield stable in action.
“Johanneson is a big puncher, we know that, so Gary has to use his sharpness to good effect and we know he’s in great shape for the fight.
“Gary is the younger man and, if he can get some good rounds in the bank early on, maybe Johanneson will fade a bit, because this is one sport where age really does catch up with you in the end.
“The pace of the fight, therefore, could be crucial and what we do know is that Gary has tremendous speed and fitness and we believe that can be a telling factor.”
The two men weighed in for the 9st 4lb division clash at the Sports Centre yesterday, with Sykes tipping the scales at the ideal measure for him.
It’s a big occasion for Nurse, too, the 21-year-old taking on tough Welsh ace Damian Owen in a bid to extend his unbeaten record to 16 fights.
Aston said of British Masters light-welterweight champion Nurse: “It’s a ‘coming of age’ fight for Tyrone, who has just gone 21.
“We have tried to put Tyrone in once or twice and match him quite high, but people have pulled out.
“That’s not the case with Owen, who has had eight weeks to prepare, the same as any World Champion would have.
“We know he is a dangerous opponent who has been in with some good boxers and has a heavy punch, but Tyrone has been sparring with Ricky Burns and his preparation has been excellent.
“If he does the business like we know he can, and on Sky TV, then that will be something special and the boxing fraternity will really sit up and take notice.”
Also in action from Huddersfield are Burt Warren, Jason McCalmon, Jason Thompson and Michael Smith.
Warren faces Aberystwyth’s Jamie Ambler, lightweight Thompson looks for a first career victory against Craig Dyer, whose fellow Swansea fighter Chris Brophy is opponent for unbeaten light-middleweight Smith.
Super-middleweight McCalmon aims for a third successive win against Sheffield’s Dean Walker.