Sporting gestures of champion teams

A member of the Walsh team raises Gary Sykes' arm in front of the sell out crowd. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images
A member of the Walsh team raises Gary Sykes' arm in front of the sell out crowd. Picture: PA Wire/Press Association Images

In an age when trash talking and bad blood are used to sell fights it was humbling to see two boxers and two teams with the upmost respect for each other.

Gary Sykes and Liam Walsh showed nothing but praise and admiration towards each other before last Saturday’s double title showdown and although they produced a gruelling 12-round war in the ring, the respect was apparent immediately after.

Respect was also shared between the two corners and if there was an award for true sportsmanship, Walsh, Sykes and their respective teams should win it hands down.

Speaking after the fight, Sykes’ trainer Julian McGowan said: “What a superb team the Walsh’s are.

“I know Liam has given the Lonsdale belt to his brother and trainer Michael and what a lovely gesture that is.

“They watched us wrap hands and we were having banter. Graham Everett, Liam, Michael and Ryan Walsh, what a great set of lads and a great team and we absolutely wish them all the luck in the world.

“At the stages they are at in their careers, Liam is a better fighter than Gary and that is the top and bottom of it.

“Ryan Walsh has said to us what an absolute amazing team you have there. That boy (Sykes) had no right to stand up to 12 rounds of that.

“Gary getting through surprised them but it didn’t surprise us as he is just too brave. You will never keep him down and, as always, I am very proud of him.”

McGowan also reflected on Sykes appearing on the huge ExCeL Arena show, which saw four British title fights staged on the same bill for the first time in history.

He added: “People have said this was the best bill we have seen in some years.

“There might be one or two bigger individual fights but from the bottom of this bill to the top, this was the best bill in British boxing for some time and what you saw out there, between Sykes and Walsh, was a real trade fight.

“I’ve always said Gary is a fight fans fighter and a warrior. That’s how he boxed as an amateur and how he has boxed as a professional and we haven’t tried to change him.

“When we walked down the streets of London and to the ExCeL Arena there were people saying ‘that’s Sykesy’ and you could hear them and that is because Gary is recognised by the hard core boxing public.

“We give plaudits to BoxNation for showing Gary, for coming to Dewsbury and giving him some coverage when others haven’t and good on them for that.”