Birtley boxer Pat McCormack handed hardest draw for Olympic debut in Rio

England's Pat McCormack
England's Pat McCormack
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Pat McCormack has been handed one of the hardest draws imaginable for his Olympic debut.

But do not back against the gifted Washington boxer!

I have high hopes for Pat, he’s an amazing talent.

Rob McCracken

Great Britain boxing’s performance director Rob McCracken has described the 21-year-old as one of the best light-welterweights in the business ahead of his entrance onto the fray in Rio.

McCormack opens his U64kilo campaign on Thursday evening against Ablaikhan Zhussupov, from Kazakhstan in the round of 32 (start 10.15pm BST).

If he beats that great ‘Scrabble’ name he must face the number two seed, Yasniel Toledo López, from Cuba on Sunday night.

But McCracken says given the season the Birtley ABC star has enjoyed - 12 wins from 13 contests - he has “high hopes” in Rio.

McCormack has been unbeaten in the World Series of Boxing competition and his form helped Britain reach the final, while he struck gold at the World Olympic Qualifier in Baku in June.

“Pat has been fantastic,” McCracken told the Echo.

“He’s been every where and performed tremendously well.

“His reputation is right up there with the best of them.

“He never lost a round in the qualifiers, I have high hopes for Pat, he’s an amazing talent.”

Like Wearside neighbour, Josh Kelly, McCormack could benefit from getting a bout under his belt in the round of 32, providing of course he wins it.

Cuban ace López received a bye into the round of 16 and the Washington fighter has the chance to dust off any ring rust.

Kelly is in action as well on Thursday night, meeting another Kazakhstan boxer, Daniyar Yeleussinov, in the welter round of 16 (11.15pm BST).