Disappointment for Washington’s McCormack brothers, but they should be proud of their European Championship efforts

Pat McCormack lands a punch
Pat McCormack lands a punch
0
Have your say

So near, yet so far.

There was European Championship heartbreak for the McCormack twins who fell agonisingly short of glory in the Ukraine on Saturday.

Luke McCormack (red) gets stuck in against his final opponent.

Luke McCormack (red) gets stuck in against his final opponent.

The Wearside boxing brothers were confident of making history by striking gold in Kharkiv.

Alas, Luke and Pat were part of a distressing day for GB Boxing, who took the top position on the podium in only one of seven finals they contested.

The 22-year-olds from Washington were two of the six who ended with silver medals.

Both were involved in exciting, explosive finals, losing on close points decisions – Luke to Armenia’s aggressive Hovhannes Bachkov at U64 kilos, just minutes before the same fate befell Pat at U69 kilos against relentless German Abass Baraou.

When the bitter disappointment fades of missing out on the European title, the Birtley ABC stars can draw enormous positives from their week’s work in Kharkiv, and their season’s efforts.

Make no mistake, the McCormacks have achieved in a tournament third in the degree of difficulty stakes behind the World Championships and Olympics.

Throw in the fact that both have just completed their first seasons at a new weight – Luke at light-welter and Pat at welter – then you can see what they did was a big deal.

Of course there will be frustration in the McCormack household, coming as close as they did. But there is much to build on and look forward to.

They have qualified for the World Championships in August.when they will be joined in Germany by Birtley ABC team-mate Calum French, who clinched bronze in Kharkiv.

Don’t rule out the McCormacks challenging for the podium in Hamburg on the evidence of their displays at the Lokomotyv Sports Palace.

Luke, in his debut European Championship, was the first of the brothers into the ring on Saturday, losing to a hardcase opponent at his third Euros.

Bachkov was awarded a 5-0 result, but that fails to tell the complete story.

McCormack consistently beat his rival to the punch in the first round, but Bachkov showing fight rather than finesse responded by taking the middle three minutes.

The third round was an absolute belter, which started in a Rocky-style punch-fest with the excitement never dipping.

Luke got through with some good head shots and a sweet uppercut, with Bachkov letting both fists go in a furious approach.

The deciding last round was a case take-your-pick, almost a beauty or beast decision and all five judges scored it to the Armenian.

In fact, the Bulgarian official marked all three rounds to Bachkov, with the other four judges scoring it just as this reporter did, 29-28 to Bachkov.

Those scores indicated just how close the light-welterweight contest was.

You would be hard-pressed to find a more impressive boxer all week in the eastern Ukraine city, in any division, than Pat McCormack.

He had won all four of his contests leading up to the showpiece by a unanimous decision.

In a sport where some judges can go totally against their colleagues, Pat had united the ringside observers all week.

His form had been imperious, his movement, his timing and ability saw him come in and land a scoring blow or blows before going out of his rival’s range was a joy to behold.

There was certainly an element of that in the first round of the U69 final with Baraou.

He did use his feet well and scored with the hand which had served him well throughout the tournament.

But, from the second round, he could not keep Baraou off him, the German ploughing forward, landing with both gloves

Baraou set an unrelenting pace again in the last and, while McCormack displayed tons of fight and bottle, the zip which had dazzled his rivals all week was not there.

For all Abass’s incredible work-rate, Pat had landed plenty of scoring shots and it was tremendously close.

The Turkish judged scored it two rounds to one for McCormack, but the officials from Bulgaria, Lithuania, Iran and Kazakhstan all went 29-28 to his opponent who triumphed 4-1.

It was not an unfair scoreline, though it was a shame that one of the tournament’s best boxers did not end as a champion.

But there was a silver lining for Pat and Luke.