Wearside Olympic boxing hopefuls Kelly and McCormack face Middle East fighters

Olympic hopeful boxer Josh Kelly (right) with sponsor Port of Call. Manager Adam Dickman (L)
Olympic hopeful boxer Josh Kelly (right) with sponsor Port of Call. Manager Adam Dickman (L)
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Olympic hopefuls Josh Kelly and Pat McCormack know the hurdles they must clear if they are to reach Rio.

The Wearside boxers are in Baku for the World Olympic Qualifying event, which got under way yesterday.

Both received byes in the round of 64 and will start their campaigns at the weekend in the round of 32 with Middle East opposition.

Houghton ABC star Kelly will be the first of the duo into the ring, taking on Iran’s Amin Ghasemi in the welterweight section on Saturday evening.

The 22-year-old, from Sunderland, has been seeded number two at U69 kilos, and could face a major test in the semi-finals, where he is scheduled to face number three seed, Juan Pablo Romero, from Mexico.

The other two seeds, number one, Eumir Marcial, from the Philippines, and Belarus’s fourth seed, Pavel Kastramin are in the top half of the draw.

McCormack, boxing at light-welter, will have opposition from Qatar in the round of 32, facing Thulasi Tharumalingam on Sunday evening.

There are only two seeds listed in the U64 kilo division and the 20-year-old, from Washington, is due to meet number two seed, Aly Mohamed at the semi stage.

McCormack, who represents Birtley ABC, has had a superb season and is one of the favourites to progress at the Crystal Hall.

Should the Wearsiders reach the semi-finals in the Azerbaijan capital they will be guaranteed places at Rio.

There are five Olympic places on offer in each of the divisions.