By James Slater: Tonight in Sheffield it was a case of repeat or revenge, as super-featherweights Gary Sykes and Gary Buckland met in a rematch of their shocking November 2010 meeting. Back then, in “Prizefighter,” Buckland upset the reigning British champ via 45-second KO. Tonight, with Sykes’ belt on the line, the man from Cardiff repeated his win, only this time on points.
Proving last year’s win was no fluke, 25-year-old Buckland prevailed tonight via close, exciting UD. Now 23-2(8), the new British champ can look ahead to some good, well deserved paydays. 27-year-old Dewsbury man Sykes, now 19-2(5) must go back to the drawing board.
The fight was all-action right from the start, and Sykes paid greater attention to defence this time around in light of what happened to him ten months ago. But Buckland, the stiffer puncher of the two, was still able to land with lefts and rights to the head. Sykes shoved his man off at times, a tactic he would use a lot in the fight.
Sykes used his fast hands in the 2nd, but he had to eat a right uppercut to the chin. Sykes landed some good body work. The pace of the fight was a brisk one, and both men were soon digging deep.
Sykes, showing a good chin, was able to take everything that Buckland landed on him tonight and come back with his own shots, but the challenger was landing the more eye-catching work. The two traded with gusto on a number of occasions, to the delight of the pro-Sykes crowd.
As Team-Sykes had expected beforehand, the majority of the early rounds belonged to Buckland; their plan being for Sykes to dominate with his better boxing in the second half. But Buckland never faded, he never tired and the two went at it hammer and tongs for all 12-rounds. Sykes did manage to shift the momentum of the battle by winning the last three rounds on my card (and on that of SKY pundit Jim Watt), but it was not enough to overcome all the early and mid-rounds work done by Buckland, who was all pressure tonight.
There were no knockdowns and neither guy was ever seriously wobbled. However, Buckland was stiffened by a sharp right hand to the head in the 9th – possibly Sykes’ best punch of the fight. In the final round, it was Sykes’ turn to be badly stunned by a right hand to the head. Both men wanted it so bad though, and neither guy was in the mood to go anywhere.
Both men thought they’d done enough at the bell, but Buckland deserved the win. The two had nothing but respect for one another after the terrific scrap.
Will we see a third installment?