Washington boxer Pat McCormack one of the favourites at European Championships
Pat McCormack hopes to bury the anguish of his last European Championship appearance by striking gold in the Ukraine.
The Washington fighter is one of the stand-out boxers in the welterweight division for the Euros which start tonight in Kharkiv.
McCormack, unbeaten in the 2016-17 season, has mixed memories of his time at the 2015 tournament in Bulgaria.
Many observers felt the Birtley ABC star had done enough to defeat Vitaly Dunaytsev in the light-welterweight final.
Alas, the judges saw it differently, marking the Russian as a unanimous points winner.
McCormack consistently made his rival miss, while also landing the cleaner shots – to no avail.
“I’m looking forward to the boxing starting,” said the Olympian.
“I went at 64 kilos two years ago and I thought I won – everyone thought I won, so this time I aim to make sure I’m the gold medallist.
“I’ve moved up to 69kilos and I’m unbeaten at welter this season.
McCormack says he is stronger and more comfortable at welter, the weight at which Sunderland’s Josh Kelly competed in at the Olympics in Rio.
“I feel a lot better at this weight,” he said. “I felt like a boy at 64 kilos, now I feel like a man, I feel so strong at this weight and better.”
Big things are expected from Pat, especially after impressing at the Olympics.
He went out in the round of the last 16, edged out by a split decision against the number two seed, Yasnier Toledo, from Cuba.
McCormack said: “I’ve watched it back and it was close.
“I got a nightmare of a draw, but it is what it is – if you want to win gold you have to beat the best.
“I got beaten by a very close split decision, it could have gone either way.
“I’m up at my new weight now and undefeated this season, .
“I’m feeling really good and I can’t wait to get out there and show what I can do.
“I’m expecting the boxers from Russia and Ireland to be up there.
“But I’m at a new weight so I’m not that familiar with my rivals.
But I’ve been to one international tournament at 69kilos [the Stadndja Cup in Bulgaria], had four fights and won gold, so I’m feeling good.
“The boxers at welterweight are new to me but I’m new to them and they’ll be in for a shock.”
McCormack has his twin, Luke, for company in Kharkiv, the first time the brothers have been in the same team for an international competition.
Luke, the recently U22 European champion, will campaign at the Lokomotyv Sports Palace at Pat’s old weight of U64 kilos.
The 23-year-olds are part of a Birtley and North-East treble, alongside gym-mate Calum French, who will fight at U60 kilos, Luke’s former category.
The U69 division gets under way this evening in Kharkiv with the U60 and U64 sections starting tomorrow night.