29 May 2010 – By Leonard Gunning
Belfast battler Kevin OHara 17-6 (5KO) failed in his latest attempt to garner a boxing accolade for himself as he dropped to a unanimous points defeat against British super-feather champion Gary Sykes 16-0 (4KO) at the Huddersfield Leisure Centre, Yorkshire on Friday night, May 28.
A confident OHara, who lost his three previous title attempts, came flying out of the traps scoring telling shots. Belfasts Sweet Pea out worked and pressured the local fighter delivering left hooks and landing overhand rights with accuracy flush on the cheek of the static Sykes.
The plot remained the same in the second as OHaras movement disrupted an unsettled Sykes’ efforts. While Sykes was throwing more punches the telling shots came from the Irishman. Buoyed by his early success OHara came out for the third round by literally chasing Sykes across the canvas but the Dewsbury native soon began to establish his jab which warmed the until then quietened crowd.
The fourth and fifth became a little rougher on the inside as the momentum swung the way of Five Star Sykes. Sweet Pea continually pushed forward but was met by ramming right crosses from his quickly developing foe. Worryingly, OHara appeared to shake out his right arm as he returned to his corner, consisting John Breen, Eamonn Magee and Neil Sinclair, and would later reveal a hand injury.
The following four rounds were a procession as OHara seemed devoid of ideas to combat the Yorkshire fighter’s intensive work rate. The slicker, quicker, taller, leaner fighter used his physical advantages to keep OHara at bay and teed off with an increasing volume of unanswered straight shots. Whilst the majority of these attempts landed against OHaras gloves and arms they had the effect of demoralising the shorter Breen’s Gym fighter.
The 28-year-old former Ulster amateur champion regained his composure following a stern motivational minute with Breen and Magee prior to the tenth round. Although now sporting a nick to the right eye, he forced the fight and applied pressure to Sykes who soaked up the fresh onslaught and pushed the brave Belfastman back in what was becoming an all too regular feature of the fight. In a repeat of the tenth round OHara came out looking to deliver an equaliser which he simply didnt posses and for his trouble picked up a deep laceration over his left eye from a stiff countering right hand by Sykes.
Magee worked the cut as Breen geed his man up for on final throw of the dice, but it landed with snake eyes. OHaras work was ragged in the final stanza as a fresh Sykes glided effortlessly around the ring almost circling his prey like a vulture picking out his fresh cadaver ramming home his right hand thrown through OHaras guard.
There was resigned acceptance in the away corner as referee Richie Davies raised the home fighters arm in victory. A clear victor winning by a margin of 119-109 on the card of Howard Foster with Victor Loughlin and Dave Paris scoring it 118-111. For the record my card read 118-110.
After the fight a naturally disappointed OHara described how he felt the contest went, I started the stronger guy but I was six months out of the ring and I didnt really have enough sparring. I trained hard but maybe I needed more rounds sparring and also the inactivity, I havent been in the ring for over six months. He (Sykes) was much fitter and is becoming a seasoned pro because Frank (Maloney) has been keeping him busy. I felt I was much stronger, every time I hit him I was hurting I just couldnt get my shots going. Every time I hit him with the right hand I felt him whinging, I just couldnt let them go.
We knew he was vulnerable for a right hand over the top and the right uppercuts but tonight I couldnt land those. He changed his gameplan after the third round and started boxing off the back foot and then was jabbing me and I was falling short every time.
I hurt my hand in the fifth round, I hit him on top of the forehead and I felt it and it was sort of in my head from then on and the pain kept shooting up my right arm. I kept hearing John (Breen) saying throw the jab but I couldnt let it go because I felt very sluggish. He never hurt me once apart from a good right hand to the body but he really used his boxing skills and was very fit and snappier. He wasnt outmaning me or anything and I felt the bigger man in there but he has been a lot busier than me this year and good luck to him, admitted OHara.
Looking forward Sweet Pea was hesitant to commit to what his next step will be. I hit the post the last and this time I was just beat by the better guy on the night. I dont know where I go from here now. Ill just take a holiday and then make my mind up. Maybe an Irish title, we will wait and see, there is only really two super-featherweights in Ireland and that is me and Eddie (Hyland) and he refused to fight me the last time but like I say Ill take the holiday and wait and see.