McGowan predicts Smith chess match

Gary Sykes covers up well as McKray looks to counter attack during Friday's contest.. Pic by Javed Iqbal
Gary Sykes covers up well as McKray looks to counter attack during Friday's contest.. Pic by Javed Iqbal

Central Boxing Club trainer Julian McGowan is gearing up for a gruelling 10-week training camp as Gary Sykes prepares to meet Stephen Smith.

The pair clash for the British super featherweight title at the Liverpool Echo Arena on December 7 and McGowan knows Sykes must train harder than ever if he is to wrestle the Lonsdale belt away from Smith.

McGowan is renowned for being meticulous with his preparations and the camp for Smith will be no different as he plots a route for Gary to win the Lonsdale belt outright.

McGowan said: “Smith’s team are projecting a fight similar to when he beat Gary Buckland but I know (Smith’s trainer) Joe Gallagher very well and Gary knows Stephen Smith very well and they are not expecting an easy fight.

“They are preparing for a 12-round war and there will be elements of that which will be brutal and some elements will be a chess match.

“I think the fight will be won as much in the corners as it will be in the ring and it will be a case of which fighter can listen and work to the game plan more effectively.

“Smith has been knocked out and Gary has been knocked out and although people will be putting money on a 12-round war, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t go the 12 rounds.”

Sykes recorded the 25th win of his professional career, defeating Mark McKray on points at Elland Road last Friday but McGowan knows there is a good deal of work to do before the Smith fight nine weeks tomorrow.

McGowan added: “Gary was definitely under pressure and I feel more so than the Smith fight because he had to get there on Friday.

“I knew it would be tough, not so much as a tough, demanding fight, because McKray isn’t in Gary’s league but I knew he’d feel the pressure and would be under a lot of emotional and physiological pressure to get the ‘W’.

“I’d give him five out of 10 for performance but this is the level we are boxing at.

“He made seven or eight 
really bad errors in that fight and in the level we are at, 
against a puncher like Stephen 
Smith, we can’t make one 
mistake.

“The whole team will have a look at those errors but he got the win and regardless of the performance against McKray, Gary will be three times a 
better fighter come December 7.”