Buckland claims victory in Sheffield

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Gary Buckland dethroned British super-featherweight champion Gary Sykes with a unanimous points win over 12 thrilling rounds in Sheffield.

Buckland, whose career record moves to 24 wins and two defeats, dealt Sykes the first loss of his career with a first-round knockout on his way to becoming Prizefighter champion last year, and he once again had the Dewsbury fighter in trouble under early fire.

Sykes (19-2) showed greater resilience this time around, although an impressive rally in the middle rounds could not prevent him from dropping a 116-113, 115-113 and 115-114 verdict on the judges’ scorecards.

As expected Buckland flew out of the blocks, landing hooks with both hands and staggering the champion with an overhand right in a dominant opening round.

Sykes strained to get into a rhythm, but Buckland’s more concussive work was still finding a way through.

In the third the Welshman was the sharper to the jab - a thudding overhand right and right uppercut his reward - while in four a short left momentarily wobbled Sykes at close quarters.

Despite regrouping in the following three minutes, round six brought more problems for the Yorkshireman as a winging right hook drew blood from his nose.

Sykes then enjoyed some success in a frenzied period of inside trading, but when the action opened out Buckland remained the man in charge with his sharper head shots.

Round eight produced thrilling back and forth action as Buckland continued landing with authority and Sykes put his quickfire combinations together effectively.

A left-hook to Buckland’s chin was the 27-year-old’s best moment of the contest and he controlled the ninth as a furious pace appeared to take its toll on both men.

The challenger reasserted himself in the next stanza with some punishing hooks to the head before Sykes stopped him in his tracks with an overhand right and ended the round with a flourish.

Buckland responded with a fizzing left right combination to leave his opponent reeling in 11, only for a slip to halt the assault.

Sykes snapped his foe’s head back as the final round began and Buckland was left hanging on when a right cross thudded into his jaw,

In the chief support, Leicester super-bantamweight Rendall Munroe (23-2) fought to a comfortable 10-round points win over Japan’s Rhuta Miyagi.

Munroe’s southpaw left was the dominant feature in the first half of the bout as numerous precise headshots found the target.

Miyagi responded with a flush left hook of his own in the closing moments of round six, but Munroe - who dropped a unanimous decision to WBC champion Toshioka Nishioka last October - did more than enough to close out a 98-92 verdict in the eyes of referee Howard Foster.

Afterwards, Buckland said he had been spurred on by the exploits of gym-mate Lee Selby, who upset the odds to claim the British and Commonwealth featherweight belts against home favourite Stephen Smith in Liverpool last weekend.

“I think I was a little bit jealous that he had titles, but the two of us have them now and we have to move on together and keep doing well,” he said.

“I’m happy. I’ve got this Lonsdale belt and it’s just like winning a world title.

“I want to move on and go for the European title then hopefully we can clean things up.”

Buckland also moved to play down the influence of his Prizefighter success on this more gruelling triumph over the championship distance.

He added: “It was a totally different fight. I had some good success early on, but Gary Sykes, fair play to him, he’s as fit as a fiddle. But I just think I had his number.”

Local competitors: see Monday’s Star.

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