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Thursday, April 19, 2012
Adrien Broner to face Gary Sykes

By Dan Rafael
ESPN.com

With just a month to go before Adrien Broner is scheduled to make the second defense of his junior lightweight title, he finally has an opponent.

Broner will face England's Gary Sykes on May 19 (HBO) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told ESPN.com on Thursday night.

The fight will open the "World Championship Boxing" telecast headlined by the rematch between unified junior welterweight titleholder Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan.

Broner has been penciled in for May 19 for nearly two months since drilling Eloy Perez in the fourth round of his first title defense in February. However, the 130-pound weight class is not deep and finding an opponent was difficult.

"Man, no matter who it was, I am still going to make all work look like easy work," Broner said. "I'm taking over boxing. I'm the missing puzzle piece, flat out."

HBO finally approved Sykes (20-2, 5 KOs), 28, as well as Monty Meza Clay (32-3, 21 KOs), although it preferred Sykes. Schaefer said there was some concern that because the fight is only a month away, Sykes might not get his work visa in time. But he said the Golden Boy attorneys are confident it would not be an issue.

"The fight has been approved and we're all confirmed. We are ready to go," Schaefer said. "The visa attorneys are working on the visa. Obviously, they don't see any issues. He should get it in about 15 days. We informed HBO of the visa situation and they are aware the visa has to be processed and that it takes some time."

Sykes looks to be a massive underdog against the 22-year-old Broner (23-0, 19 KOs), one of the quickest, slickest and most powerful young fighters in boxing.

Sykes is untested against a top opponent, with both of his losses coming to Gary Buckland. Sykes was stopped in the first round of their first fight in November 2010. He rebounded to win three bouts in a row, including claiming the British junior lightweight title against Carl Johanneson in March 2011, before losing it via decision to Buckland in their rematch. Sykes returned from that defeat for a six-round decision win on March 23.

"We are bringing Adrien back quickly from the February fight and we were looking at different opponents, but some were not available and we zeroed in on Gary Sykes," Schaefer said. "You need to realize that when you call to ask people if they want to fight Adrien Broner, the other side doesn't say, 'Oh, great.' There is a hesitation. So it's becoming more and more difficult to find an opponent from a field that is already skim pickings to start with because the 130-pound division is not a deep division. You have guys like (Yuriorkis) Gamboa and (Robert) Guerrero who are top fighters but who moved up in weight."

If Broner defeats Sykes, he likely will return in August to fight in his hometown of Cincinnati against Golden Boy stablemate Vicente Escobedo, Schaefer said.

"Combine the talent, the charisma and the brush and he has superstar written all over him, so we want to keep him busy," Schaefer said, referring to Broner's habit of having his father brush his hair in the ring after his victories. "He is comfortable at 130 pounds. He'll probably have a few more title defenses before he goes up to lightweight. But if the right opportunity came along at 135, he would probably go up for that.

"There is no rush to leave 130, though. He's entertaining and one of the most exciting fighters and one of the most charismatic. So more power to him that he can capture the interest of the public in a division which lacks other big names."