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CLOSER TO FRUITION: McCormack Olympic gold plans on track

CLOSER TO FRUITION: McCormack Olympic gold plans on track

PA Martin Rickett

Pat McCormack ’s best-laid plans to wrap up his amateur career with Olympic gold and a bit of revenge into the bargain moved a step closer to fruition on Tuesday when he won his first bout in the men’s welterweight division.

The 26-year-old world number one scored a comfortable unanimous decision victory over Aliaksandr Radzionau of Belarus, although one of the five judges saw fit to award his opponent the opening round.

McCormack has made no secret of his intention to shed his amateur vest after the Tokyo Games and turn professional alongside his twin brother Luke, who also made it through to the last eight in the lightweight division on Sunday.

And he can think of no better way of doing so than a final win over Russian Andrey Zamkovoy, who beat McCormack on cuts in the world final in 2019, a perceived injustice that even McCormack’s subsequent win in the Olympic qualification could not entirely erase.

“There’s no bigger prize than Olympic gold and it is something I have dreamed of since I watched Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell in London and thought, ‘I can do that,’” said McCormack.

“This is the end of the amateurs and after that it’s on to the pros and the next chapter.

“The last time I beat the Russian I said to him at the end of the fight, it’s 1-1 and the next one is the Olympic final. Hopefully in my next fight I’ll get another win over him and finish my amateur career with a gold medal.”

Such a scenario would certainly raise McCormack’s bargaining power, although the way in which he has evolved into such an impressive force in his sport has long had professional promoters slavering over his potential.

The miracles worked by the twins’ club coach Graeme Rutherford at their gym in Birley have helped mould one of the stand-out talents not only of the current GB Boxing squad, but one who would stand tall among so many illustrious gold-medal winning predecessors.

McCormack has also acknowledged the dangers of being distracted from the task in hand, something that has become considerably less of a threat to his immediate ambitions given the strict quarantine himself and Luke have been forced to adhere to along with the rest of the GB team in Tokyo.

“I’m totally focused out here,” McCormack said. “I felt comfortable today. Obviously it’s better fighting with a crowd there, you catch someone with a good shot and they’re cheering and it spurs you on.

“But I’ve got my brother there and that’s all I need.”

Caroline Dubois marked her Olympic debut with a unanimous verdict over Kosovo’s Donjeta Sadiku in their women’s lightweight bout.

Afterwards the 20-year-old said she was able to relish the magnitude of the occasion despite having to compete in front of empty stands as a consequence of the coronavirus protocols.

Dubois said: “It’s definitely different to what I expected.

“I remember watching Katie Taylor and Natasha Jonas (at London 2012) and when they walked out the crowd went absolutely mental. The noise was unreal, I was just blown away by it.

“Here, there was no crowd. That atmosphere isn’t here, but the pressure is still there. This is the Olympic Games, this is what dreams are made of, or where they’re broke.”

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