Sykes steps up pace ahead of English title showdown

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Gary Sykes has upped the tempo ahead of his English super featherweight title defence against Jonny Kays in Sheffield on April 27.

The Dewsbury star will be aiming to put on a sparkling display against Kays, which is on the undercard to Amir Khan’s clash with Julio Diaz, and has sought the best possible sparring in preparation.

Sykes and his team travelled to Doncaster for sparring with Jamie McDonnell, who will fight for the IBF bantamweight title against Mexico’s Julio Ceja at the Keepmoat Stadium a fortnight after Sykes defends his English crown.

Sykes has also been put through his paces by Adil Anwar at his Central Boxing Club base in Batley as the Leeds light welterweight prepares for his British title showdown with Darren Hamilton, while he will also meet Doncaster lightweight Maxi Hughes.

Sykes said: “It was a really good spar against Jamie and although I’m heavier than him, he was really fast and it was a high pace.

“We did six rounds as I am a couple of weeks ahead of him in my preparations but we are going back for another spar this Sunday.

“I’m sparring Adil, who will challenge for a British title and Maxi Hughes, who is training to meet top prospect Scott Cardle.

“Since the new year I have really knuckled down. We have the Central gym on our doorstep and are no longer travelling 45 minutes for each training session and I am really enjoying my boxing.”

Kevin Hooper, who Sykes defeated on points last month to capture the English crown, has also been in touch with the Dewsbury man offering sparring sessions in the future.

A limited number of Sykes tickets for the Kays fight at the Motorpoint Arena on April 27 are available from Julian McGowan at the Central Club.

n Ashley Vanzie, fighting out of the KBW Gym in Savile Town, Dewsbury, will meet Ricky Crotton of Hoddesdon in the final of the Senior ABA’s at the Rainton Meadows Arena, in Sunderland, on Saturday April 20.

Vanzie earned a unanimous points victory over Dean Laing from Birtley in last Sunday’s 81kg semi-final in Liverpool.

Vanzie produced some beautiful combination punches which drew blood from Laing’s nose in the first round.

Vanzie maintained the pressure throughout and was too much for the Birtley man to handle as he went a step further than last year, when he was beaten semi-finalist.

Gary Sykes remains Dewsbury’s only Senior ABA title winner following his success over Michael Robinson (Tower Hill ABC) at the Excel Arena in London in 2005 before turning pro.