Pat McCormack is likely to be one of the hot targets for professional promoters at this year’s Olympic Games, but the 26-year-old has a warning for any likely suitors. If they want to sign him, they will have to sign his twin brother Luke too.
Both Pat, the welterweight, and Luke, the lightweight, will be competing in Tokyo. Pat, the No 1 seed, will be at his second Games, but is a strong favourite for gold this time. Luke does not have a seeding and also had a tough draw, as if he gets past India’s Manish Kaushik in his opening bout on Sunday, he will be facing Cuba’s double world champion Andy Cruz.
“We 100 percent come as a package,” Pat said. “But I am not thinking about the pros, I am thinking about winning this medal, then everything will sort itself out.”
During the long break between the Olympics being postponed and a genuine belief that it would go ahead this year, Pat had plenty of offers to do something else. As the most gifted of a team considered by many as the most talented that Great Britain has ever sent to the Games, there were plenty of temptations from professional promoters. But he was going nowhere without his twin brother Luke.
“I would have been going pro as an Olympian and he wouldn’t have been,” Pat said. “I just think it would be better to do everything together.”
The 26-year-olds from Wearside tend to do things as a pair. They started boxing together at Birtley ABC, the were elevated to the Great Britain squad together, they went to the Commonwealth Games in 2018 together.
“We always share rooms,” Pat said. “We fight better when we are together.”
The wait paid off. Pat not only qualified for his second Olympics at the European qualifying event in Paris last month – which Pat won to secure the No 1 seeding - Luke made it too at lightweight.
“It’s going to be unbelievable and it’s time for the twins to take over Tokyo,” Pat said. “We’ve been all around the world together fighting in all these different tournaments.
“When it was Luke’s qualifying fight I was more nervous than when I was fighting, and when he qualified I was buzzing more than when I won the tournament.
“His is the only voice I hear when I’m boxing. I remember when I was in the final, he was shouting, ‘how much do you want it?’ I just felt this rush of energy and I made sure I got the win.
“My family are over the moon. We had a little party when we got back but then it was straight back into training.”
Luke is used to being in Pat’s shadow, but he has had his fair share of success, including a silver medal at the European Championships and a bronze at the Commonwealth Games.
But along with Lauren Price, the middleweight, it is Pat who is the British banker for a medal. In the final of the qualifying tournament in Paris, he beat Andrey Zamkovoy, a Russian who had controversially beaten him in the final of the World Championships in 2019 in Russia.
“That win was massive for me,” Pat said. “He had been on my mind since I lost to him in Russia, when we had a head clash, he cut my eye open and the fight was stopped. I have been dying to get him back and I have thought about him in training.
“To finally get him back and to put it on him in the last round, it was like I was taking over the throne. I thought I was winning the fight, but I wanted to make sure and I left it all in there.”
The seeding means he gets a bye through to the last 16 stage, meaning he must only win two bouts to be guaranteed a medal. In his opening bout, on Tuesday, Pat will face Belarussian Aliaksandr Radzionau. A win there, would see him face either Bobo-Usman Baturov, of Uzbekistan, or Rohan Polanco, of the Dominican Republic.
A medal might not be enough for Pat in Tokyo, though, gold is what he has on his mind.
“I’ve been to three World Championships, three Europeans, the Commonwealth Games twice as well as an Olympics,” he said.
“I will be going as No 1 seed so hopefully I will bring back the gold medal. I’ve beaten world champions, I’ve beaten Olympic medallists, I’m ready to take that home. If you name the top fighters at my weight, I have beaten them all, so I think I am the man to beat.”