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Sykes slams mitchell treatment


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WINNING a British title eliminator should elevate a fighter to the championship class but in the case of Dewsbury super-featherweight Gary Sykes, it has caused his career to stall. The 25-year-old Yorkshireman, nicknamed “Five Star” because of his desire to be the best rather than a love of mid-1980s pop music, defeated Manchester slickster Anthony Crolla over 12 rounds in May and believed his next fight would see him share the ring with domestic champion Kevin Mitchell.


However things haven’t turned out that way for Sykes, 13-0 (4), and now he has to either cope with the frustration of waiting or consider taking his career down a different route. He also feels that Mitchell, who won the title 20 months ago, has been given special treatment by the board.


“When I beat Crolla I thought a fight for the British title was almost certain after but it seems to be getting further and further away from me now,” said Sykes. “It’s really frustrating because Kevin Mitchell hasn’t defended since he beat Carl Johanneson to win the title.


“It seems like with him being with a big promoter he can get away with it, but if it was anyone else they’d be stripped straight away. My trainer, Julian McGowan, told me about the that Scottish guy, Kevin McIntyre, who got stripped straight away when he didn’t defend and that’s probably because he didn’t have a big enough promoter behind him.


“But as long as I keep winning it will come. I’m not forcing it at the moment because I’ve only had 13 fights, which I think is the least in the top 10 in Britain. I think I need more experience to be honest, you know more long fights.”


Something else Sykes wishes to have when he eventually does challenge for the domestic bauble is a much longer and more dedicated training camp. At present his day job designing flowery greeting cards for a printing firm (“a bit different from being a boxer”), limits the amount of time he can spend in the gym.


“If the British title came up I’d like to give my day job up,” he revealed. “That way I could get my body stronger and harder because when you train full-time your body gets harder. Boxers who train full-time have big advantages.”


A way in which Sykes could obtain the experience he says he needs is to fight Thamesmead southpaw Ryan Barrett for the English 9st 4lbs crown. The board have already sanctioned the contest and Frank Maloney is set to promote, possibly at some point next month. Some would argue that given Syke’s status as next in line for the British title, fighting for the English belt is a step backwards but the amiable Yorkshireman said he would relish the opportunity.


“[My manager] Steve Wood said there could be a date in December,” he revealed. “At the moment I’ll take whatever is given to me because a title is a title. If I do go for the English [title] then at least it’s a bit more experience before I go for the British because there’s more chance of me losing to Kevin Mitchell than there is to Ryan Barrett.”


Mitchell could give up the British belt in order to pursue a match-up with Breidis Prescott, a contest Mitchell’s promoter Frank Warren has confirmed as a ‘world’ title final eliminator. This is something Sykes has considered and feels would suit him better.


“To be honest I’d prefer that,” he admitted. “It’d give me an easier route because Mitchell looks the hardest one in Britain, but if I do have to fight him I’ll take it because it will be a big occasion.”


He added: “I’d love to win a Lonsdale Belt outright. It’s a beautiful belt and it’s my big aim really. I think it’s realistic.”



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Mitchell does seem to have been fortunate in his treatment and IMO once he is fully fit and raring to go he is above British level. If he fights Prescott for a title then he should vacate.


Gary Sykes is a good kid. Good boxer and deserved his win over Crolla and deserved a title chance.


The article was done by andrew Wake, a good lad and good journo too

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