World-class boxing is coming to the North-East in 2018 - and it will star Washington's Pat McCormack.
GB Boxing announced today that the British Lionhearts will take on Croatia in the World Series of Boxing in Gateshead on Friday, February 16.
McCormack, the reigning European Championship silver medallist will be joined in the Lionhearts team on the night by his Birtley ABC team-mate, Calum French, who won bronze at the Euros.
Gifted weltwerweight McCormack has a 100% record in the WSB competition and he can't wait to make it six straight wins in Gateshead.
“I love competing in WSB and cannot wait to finally get the chance to box for the Lionhearts in the North-East in front of my family and friends," said the 22-year-old, speaking in his home gym of Birtley ABC.
"I have a great record in WSB and was voted Boxer of the Season in 2016 so am hoping to continue my unbeaten run in the competition.
“The WSB events are much more like a professional show with a weigh-in the day before, face-offs and a ringwalk on the night so it creates a really great atmosphere.
"As a member of the GB Boxing squad I usually compete overseas and it is more than six years since I boxed in the North east, so to be able to box at home and in a WSB event is going to be brilliant.
"I've loved boxing in the York Hall, I've won all three of my WSB fights there, but being able to box at some is something special."
WSB is a global team boxing competition contested by the world’s leading amateur boxers, with each bout contested over five rounds rather than the amateur championship distance of three.
French too also boasts an unbeaten run in WSB and is excited to be fighting the Croatian Knights in his home town.
He said: “I have only ever competed in WSB either overseas or in London so to have a match right on my doorstep in Gateshead is going to be fantastic.
"WSB is a really great format of boxing and I hope that fight fans in the region get behind it and come out to support the team which will contain a strong North East contingent.
"I've taken 30 people down with me to London to box at the York Hall and I'm hoping to have 10 times that number for this show."
Hosting a WSB match in the North East is part of a decision by the British Lionhearts to move the team out of London and around the country for the group stages of the 2018 season. The other matches will be in Liverpool in March and Newport in April.
Matt Holt, Chief Executive of GB Boxing, which oversees the British Lionhearts team, explained: “We have made the decision to move the team around the country so that more boxing fans will have the opportunity to experience WSB and see boxers from their hometown competing in this format.
“We are very pleased to be taking WSB to such strong boxing areas as Liverpool, South Wales and the North East of England.”
Early bird discount tickets for British Lionhearts vs Croatian Knights are on sale now, priced £15, at www.gbboxing.org.uk/tickets.