European Championship boxing: Calum French says Birtley ABC trio can strike gold

Calum French (right) has followed in the ringsteps of the McCormacks, Luke (left) and Pat, in Khakiv.
Calum French (right) has followed in the ringsteps of the McCormacks, Luke (left) and Pat, in Khakiv.
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Red-hot Calum French has "no doubt" he and the McCormack brothers can strike an historic triple gold at the European Championships.

French finally made his Euros entrance in the Ukraine tonight when he controlled matters from start to finish in his lightweight preliminary to beat Arslan Khataev.

His unanimous points success over the Finn in Kharkiv kept alive dreams of a Birtley ABC treble.

Luke and Pat McCormack had already reached the quarter-finals in the weights immediately above the 21-year-old and qualified for the World Championships in the process.

And victory for French on Wednesday night against Enrico Lacruz, from the Netherlands, would guarantee him a trip to the worlds.

Achieving that would be a feat in itself, but French believes the trio can go all the way to European glory.

"Definitely," said French, who boasts an unbeaten record stretching back to 2012.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we can get those golds.

"We've all won big tournaments already this year.

"Luke won the Under 22 Euros and me and Pat went out to the Strandja tournament in Bulgaria and won that.

"We've all had good tournament preparation and been away sparring with the Uzbeks

"We have to carry that form on into the majors where it matters.

"It would be great to get to Germany this year for the worlds but I am really concentrating on the Europeans first."

French dominated the scorecards against Khataev, the judges from Lithuania, Bulgaria and Turkey all marking it 30-27 with Italy and France's representatives scoring it 29-28.

That the Gateshead-born boxer triumphed should come as no shock - that is 16 straight victories in an international vest and 35 consecutive wins in total.

French said: "That gives me massive belief, hopefully I can carry that form on."

He is benefiting from a move up to the U60 kilo division, where friend and Birtley colleague Luke had previously campaigned.

Luke is now boxing at 64 kilos, Pat's former category!

French added: "It's a massive achievement for the three of us and the club to have been picked for the Europeans.

"Luke has moved up at the perfect time.

"I'm hoping that's the big man upstairs looking down on us saying 'go out and get gold at each weight'."

Luke is first in the ring on Wednesday, taking on Ireland’s Sean McComb in the afternoon session at the Lokomotyv Sports Palace for a place in the light-welterweight semis.

Pat has Russian opposition on the night when he meets Sergei Sobylinskii at U69 kilos.

Victory for the McCormacks would guarantee them a medal while a win for French over Lacruz would take him into the last eight.