Boxers Pat McCormack and Josh Kelly look to book Olympic Games places for Great Britain
Wearside boxing will be looking to book two fighters on the plane to Rio in the next couple of weeks.
Talented fighters Pat McCormack and Josh Kelly have been named by Great Britain in their team for the final World Olympic qualifying event in Azerbaijan, from June 7-19.
McCormack, from Washington, is favourite to go through at U64 kilos, with Sunderland star Kelly tipped for success at U69 kilos.
Five boxers go through to Rio from each weight division so the local heroes both have good chances.
For Kelly, it is his final crack at qualifying, North-East neighbour and rival, Cyrus Pattinson, having been picked for the European Olympic qualifying competition in Turkey in April.
Pattinson fell short at Samsun and now Kelly, who represented GB with aplomb at the 2015 European Games and World Championships, has regained his place.
McCormack also missed out at the European Olympic qualifier having been expected to be one of the first GB boxers to book his spot.
To say the 20-year-old’s loss to Armenia’s Hovhannes Bachkov was a shock would be an understatement.
But McCormack is confident there will be no mistakes this time. His path has been cleared, to a degree, by the fact that many of the Olympic places have already been claimed.
“A lot of the top names have already qualified,” he told the Echo. “The top five go through so I’ll be looking to qualify in Baku, definitely.
“Going out at the European qualifier has definitely sharpened my focus.
“I’ve trained harder and I feel back to my old self.
“I think I just had an off-day in Turkey – I was too tense, I wanted it too much and I think I ended up trying to force it instead of letting my boxing do the talking.”
McCormack, though, is in good nick, as highlighted by the fact he was named Boxer of the WSB series and helped GB reach the final by defeating Kazakhstan’s Samat Bashenov in the 7-3 semi success at the York Hall in London at the weekend.
“He was a good kid and I think he was unbeaten in two years,” said Pat. “It was a good, convincing win, I feel on top form and I’m looking forward to Baku.”