Rotorua Daily Post sports reporter

Boxing: Knockout keeps Sykes' Olympic hopes alive

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Rotorua's Tyson Sykes is pictured with coach Mike Sykes (left) and manager Melissa Ruru.
Rotorua's Tyson Sykes is pictured with coach Mike Sykes (left) and manager Melissa Ruru.

Rotorua boxer Tyson Sykes has knocked out his latest opponent as he chases a spot at the Rio Olympics.

The light heavyweight fought in Auckland on Saturday to try to make the New Zealand boxing team heading to China in March for the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifiers.

Sykes, 26, knocked out his opponent Sloan Auckram (Perth-based) in the third round of their fight with a right-handed upper cut followed by a left hook.

The pair were the highest-rated light heavyweights in the country going into the bout.

Sykes' coach and father Mike Sykes said his son did enough to impress the national selectors and they hoped to be on a plane to China.

"Our whole camp is happy. Everyone who was up there was rapt, it is the best we have seen him fight," he said. "And the guy he fought was a tough cookie."

Fighters competing in Auckland at the weekend not only had to win their bouts, but prove to the national selectors they could compete on the world stage.

The team heading to China is expected to be named soon.

Mike said his son had been sparring with Commonwealth Games gold medallist David Nyika (Hamilton) during the summer, which had helped him improve.

"That helped heaps. When you spar with good sparring partners it is good for everyone involved. It was not just good for Tyson, but David as well," Mike said.

"This is the best shape I've seen Tyson in, and his whole attitude is really good."

Sykes and Auckram had fought before, during the nationals last year in Invercargill which saw Auckram win a tight contest.

Three Olympic spots will be up for grabs in Sykes' weight division during the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifying event in China.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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