THE RING’s No. 3-rated junior lightweight Adrien Broner will defend his WBO crown against England’s twice-beaten Gary Sykes on the May 19 undercard of the HBO-televised rematch between IBF/WBA junior welterweight beltholder Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas, Golden Boy Promotions CEO, Richard Schaefer, informed RingTV.com on Thursday.
“Golden Boy has worked very well with England and its fighters, and we like to give British fighters the opportunities and this is just another example of giving a British fighter an opportunity to bring a title home from the United States. Whether he’s going to succeed or not, it’s about giving him the opportunity, and Gary Sykes has that,” said Schaefer.
“It’s the perfect fit with Amir Khan, who is England’s best and most popular fighter fighting on May 19. You have one of the greats of the sport in Amir Khan based on ticket sales. There are going to be a lot of Brits coming to the Mandalay Bay. Now, with the addition of Gary Sykes, I think that we’re just adding another reason for the Brits to come to Las Vegas.”
A resident of Dewsbury, Yorkshire, in the United Kingdom, Sykes (20-2, 5 knockouts) is coming off a six-round decision over Dean Mills last month that helped him to rebound from his second loss to Gary Buckland, of Wales, by 12-round unanimous decision last September.
The setback ended a three-bout winning streak that had included two stoppage victories by Sykes, 28, who had been stopped on cuts, previously, by Buckland in the first round in November of 2010.
“I know I’m a big, big underdog and I would love to see the odds against me winning but I think I’ve earned this chance and I deserve to be in there with him. I have never gone into the ring thinking I’m going to lose and I never will. Broner is a genuine world champion and it’s Las Vegas,” said Sykes in his local newspaper, the Batley and Birstall News.
“I’m going to enjoy it, but you have got to be in it to win it. I’ve been told if I beat him, I will automatically become a superstar. I have also been criticized by some for taking this fight. People have said I’m going to get slaughtered, but I’m realizing the dream of every young boxer by fighting in Vegas against the best in the world, and not many can say they have done that.”
For Sykes, Broner represents the most exposure he will have ever received.
“So it’s an opportunity for Gary Sykes twofold. To fight for the world title, and to fight in the fight capitol of the world, Las Vegas. And to be on the same card as Amir Khan is obviously an added incentive, because he knows that it’s going to be a card that is going to be truly watched in his home country of the United Kingdom,” said Schaefer.
“Gary Sykes has a record of 20-2, and he’s obviously been waiting for this opportunity to fight for a world title, and as the Brits are, they don’t fear anyone. He’s going to be trying to capture the moment and to capture the opportunity, and he’ll be trying to derail the Adrien Broner freight train.”
A personal friend to Peterson (30-1-1, 15 KOs), Broner (23-0, 19 KOS) was on hand in Peterson’s native Washington, D.C. when he dethroned Khan (26-2, 18 KOs) by disputed split-decision in December.
Broner, 22, is coming off a HBO televised fourth-round stoppage of previously unbeaten Eloy Perez (23-1-2, 7 KOs) in February, and has been compared, style-wise, to WBC welterweight titleholder, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
“With Adrien Broner, you have one of the most exciting fighters in any weight class. He has the skills inside the ring and the charisma outside of the ring, and don’t forget the brush. I think that Adrien Broner is the future of boxing and that he is an amazing, amazing talent,” said Schaefer of Broner, whose out-of-the ring antics include being rapper, “AJ Da Problem” in Youtube videos, and having his father brush his hair in the ring after fights.
“To bring him back so quickly after his fight makes me very excited. I get a lot of e-mails and calls from fans asking when Adrien Broner is going to be back, and to have Adrien Broner back on this big night of the much-anticipated rematch between Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan and to be opening up the telecast on HBO World Championship Boxing is just a very, very exciting addition.”
But Sykes’ trainer, Julian McGowan, told the Batley and Birtsall News that he has developed a gameplan for Broner after having studied tapes of his fights.
“We are going to take Broner into the trenches, to places where he has never been before. He may have a massive entourage and back-slappers,” said McGowan. “But when everyone else gets out of the ring, there will be just two men left and everything else is irrelevant. Broner is going to have to be on top of his game, and that’s exactly what we will be preparing for.”
In victory, Broner could return to the ring in his hometown of Cincinnati on Aug. 18, Schaefer told RingTV.com last month.
“People see Broner as this fearsome undefeated world champion,” said McGowan. “He may have been brought up in the ghettos of Cincinnati, but Gary Sykes is a tough kid, and if Broner thinks we are going there to survive and get through the early rounds, he is badly mistaken.”
Broner’s biggest win prior to facing Perez was in March of last year, a disputed unanimous decision over former world titleholder, Daniel Ponce de Leon, before de Leon’s partisan fans in at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
Two months later, Broner scored a first-round stoppage of Jason Litzau, followed by November’s third-round knockout in his last fight against Martin Rodriguez that earned the WBO’s vacant belt and ended the former titleholder’s unbeaten streak at 13-0-1, with nine knockouts.
The triumph over Rodriguez was accomplished before Broner’s partisan crowd at the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati, the last time Broner fought in his native Ohio.
Perez entered the fight with Broner as THE RING’s No. 9-rated junior lightweight, and was coming off his second straight knockout victory, having stopped Ira Terry in the sixth round in October in the wake of September’s second-round stoppage of Daniel Jimenez that ended a run of three straight wins.
Perez’s signature victory had been a 10-round decision over Dannie Williams (21-2, 17 KOs), whose unanimous decision loss to Henry Lundy last month ended a streak of nine straight wins, six of them by knockout, since falling to Perez in September of 2009.
“Boxers dream of fighting in Vegas and we now have the chance. But we are not going to Vegas to get autographs and shake hands with [Golden Boy Promotions President’ Oscar De La Hoya,” said McGowan. “We are going there to cause a huge upset – even if that means we will be the most unpopular men in Vegas on the night.”
Due to initial concerns over work visa issues with Sykes, Monty Meza Clay (32-3, 21 KOs), of Rankin, Pa., is considered a back-up plan and potential replacement. Clay, 31, has won four straight, two of them by knockout, since falling by unanimous decision to Fernando Beltran in June of 2009.
Photo by Tom Hogan, Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org