Luke McCormack feels “like a new fighter” and he is ready to shock the continent’s elite at the European Championship.
The 22-year-old, one half of the Washington boxing brothers, takes on Johan Orozco Ojeda in today’s last-16 bout in the Ukraine.
A victory over the Spaniard in Kharkiv would put the Birtley ABC star into the U64 kilo quarter-finals, earning him a spot at the World Championships in the process.
Both Luke and Pat have moved up a weight division this season and Luke says he feels better than he’s ever felt after switching to light-welter, brother Pat’s old category.
“Making 60 kilos was a bit of a struggle,” explained Luke. “I wasn’t boxing as well as I can.
“Since moving up it’s given me a new lease of life – I feel like a new fighter.
“I feel more comfortable, confident, strong, fit, everything.
“I feel all-round 10 times better.”
Luke had already tested the water, so to speak, at 64 kilos, winning the U22 European Championship in Romania in February.
Naturally, the competition is a little hotter in the Lokomotyv Sports Palace but the belief gained from that gold medal is inside the Wearsider as he proved in round of 32 bout.
That belief is being put to the test here, where he has had something of a rough draw.
He was matched against the Ukraine’s Mger Oganisian in the preliminary round, getting past the home hero via a split decision.
And should Luke defeat Ojeda, he could be coming up against the top light-welter on the continent, Vitaly Dunaytsev, who controversially beat brother Pat in the 2015 final.
“I only got a week and a half notice for the European Under 22s, so I wasn’t completely ready for it,” he said.
“But because I wasn’t killing myself with the weight then I felt good.
“Obviously there are more experienced boxers here, but I’m not scared of anyone.
“The way I feel now, I think I can beat anyone.
“I outgrew the weight, because I was struggling my head probably wasn’t right for my later fights at 60.
“But I feel 100% now at 64, 100% ready to take someone’s head off.”
Luke is up for the challenge at a major. He was in Rio last summer, but only as support for brother Pat, who was wearing the Team GB vest.
Luke missed out on selection but says there was never any hangover at missing out on the Olympics.
“I was bit down when I knew it wasn’t going to happen, but it soon passed,” he said.
“It had to be Joe [Cordina] at 60 kilos, GB couldn’t not send him, he was the European champion.
“I had the holiday of a life time out there so I can’t complain!”