Wearside will send three boxers to London this weekend for the biggest amateur boxing night in Great Britain so far this year.
Sunderland’s Josh Kelly will join the McCormack twins in the British Lionhearts line-up for the semi-final of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) on Thursday and Friday in Bethnal Green.
Luke and Pat McCormack have starred in the 2016 WSB series, which has seen the GB side sweep aside all put before them.
But the task in front of them at the famous York Hall is huge as they face the defending champions, Astana Arlans, the team of one of the world’s premier boxing forces, Kazakhstan.
The Lionhearts head into the biggest match of the season on the back of a superb 8-2 victory over the Ukraine Otamans in the quarter-finals.
It featured an outstanding performances by Luke McCormack, who was named Boxer of the quarter-finals, a perfect bounce back from the Washington boxer, who missed out on a place at the Olympic Games.
This week’s match does not count in the Olympic process but certainly a good performance would boost the fighters’ confidence for the task ahead.
There is the WSB Qualifying event in, Sofia, where Pat McCormack is eligible to box, though not Kelly because he will only have one World Series bout and two are required.
Kelly is eligible for the final World Olympic qualifying event in Baku, from June 7-19.
“That will be my first and last chance but there are five places for Rio on offer there and I should be able to do that,” said the the 22-year-old.
“All my injury problems are behind me and I’m flying in the gym and sparring well.
“I feel as though I am the GB number one again and now it’s up to me to step up to the plate and show that.
“All my problems are in the past and now I just want to get in there and box again.”
Kelly goes into the weekend boosted by the addition of a sponsor, Port of Call, the Sunderland restaurant.
“I have a few backers from outside the area but not much from around here, so it’s nice to have a Sunderland sponsor,” he said.
“To compete at the top level is not easy and sponsors like Port of Call make a massive difference.
“I can’t thank the Dickman family enough for giving me Port of Call’s support.”