Kelly and McCormack hoping to make an impact at World Championships

Josh Kelly.
Josh Kelly.
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Pride of Wearside Josh Kelly and Pat McCormack are ready to take on the world.

The talented fighters are in Doha for the World Championships which get under way this evening.

McCormack, from Washington, is the first of the local heroes in the ring in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

The 20-year-old takes on Moldova’s Dmitri Galagot in the U64 kilo preliminaries.

Kelly, from Sunderland, make his entrance tomorrow night with a match against Nathan Webber, from Australia, in the first stage of the U69 kilo section.

Not only are the two talents chasing glory there is the not-so-small matter of Olympic places up for grabs as Kelly is all too aware.

“It’s brilliant for our area and the North-East to have two boxers in the Worlds,” said Kelly.

“Pat has done great this year and brought a silver medal back from the European Championships.

“I got a bronze at the European Games and I feel pretty confident.

“There are Olympic places to be won as well so it’s a huge tournament.

“The North-East scene is looking good and there’s more talent coming through, we have real strength in depth.”

While the future might be bright, the present is what matters most.

Both McCormack and Kelly have reason for optimism, despite difficult draws.

McCormack, who represents Birtley ABC, was unlucky to miss out on gold at the European Championships, losing to Vitaly Dunaytsev in the light-welterweight final.

The stylish Pat landed a number of great punches and made the Russian miss numerous times, only for the judges to side with Dunaytsev.

Should McCormack see off Galagot today, he will meet his nemesis in the second round after the 23-year-old received a bye.

Pat is in the same side of the draw as number one seed, Yasniel Toledo Lopez. Should they both make progress, they would meet in the semi-finals on Sunday.

Kelly has the number two seed in his half of the draw.

Mohammed Rabii, from Morocco, could await in the quarter-finals, should the Houghton ABC boxer beat Webber tomorrow and New Zealand’s Josh Nyika on Friday night.

Kelly qualified for this competition courtesy of his semi-final place at the European Games in Baku in the summer.

Like McCormack, the judging was not kind to Kelly, who was outpointed by Parviz Baghirov, who was representing the host country.

But the 21-year-old is one of the fancied men at the World Championships – so much so that his face adorns billboards in Doha promoting the tournament

“I thought I was unlucky in the semis,” he said. “Perhaps I was not that well known on the international scene before the European Games and may be that helped me.

“I beat some good lads and got to the last four.

“I am confident I can do well here and would love to get among the medals.”

Three boxers from U64 and U69 kilos qualify for Rio 2016 in Doha, but if neither Wearsider makes it through in the UAE, there are three further qualifying events with 11 spots on offer.