Pat McCormack ready to turn professional after winning silver medal in Tokyo

·4 min read

Birtley boxer Pat McCormack has set his sights on turning professional after being beaten in the men’s welterweight final by Cuba’s Roniel Iglesias at Tokyo 2020.

McCormack, the top seed at 69kg who advanced to the Olympic gold medal match after Irish opponent Aidan Walsh withdrew from their semi-final because of a freak ankle injury, lost on all five of the judges’ scorecards.

There was no lack of endeavour from McCormack but his opponent’s outstanding footwork helped him control the distance while his rapid hand speed from a southpaw stance caught the Briton off guard on several occasions.

Pat McCormack, left, settled for silver at Tokyo 2020 (Adam Davy/PA)
Pat McCormack, left, settled for silver at Tokyo 2020 (Adam Davy/PA)

McCormack was satisfied with winning silver – one of six medals guaranteed for Team GB’s boxers at these Games, equalling their best-ever overseas haul – but he has signalled his intention to leave the amateur ranks behind.

“I was just up against a tough fighter from Cuba, a double Olympic champion,” the 26-year-old said of Iglesias, who also won gold at London 2012.

“I thought I won the first round and he just edged the second two. I’ve got no complaints, I lost to a very, very good fighter. It is what it is, I’m ready for the pro ranks now.

“It’s been a long time coming, obviously with the lockdown and everything, it got pushed back a year. I was hoping to be professional now but I’m an Olympic silver medallist, it’s a good platform to turn professional. I’m just ready for the pros.”

McCormack, left, had his moments but was ultimately edged out (Adam Davy/PA)
McCormack, left, had his moments but was ultimately edged out (Adam Davy/PA)

McCormack had his moments but was perhaps a touch fortunate to avoid a knockdown being called in the second round after he was caught flush by a left hook, with referee Tunisian referee Hichem Menchaoui ruling a slip.

His opponent was the busier fighter and McCormack acknowledged getting a bye into the showpiece – he did so because Walsh injured an ankle jumping up and down celebrating his quarter-final win – might have left him a touch rusty.

“I could have done with boxing,” McCormack said. “I haven’t done anything for four days, apart from a little bit of shadow boxing and a little bit of pads.

“I could have done with a fight to get my eye in, but it is what it is, he’s injured. I’ve got a silver medal and I’m going to go home happy.”

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McCormack’s silver adds to Karriss Artingstall’s bronze, while British compatriots Frazer Clarke, Ben Whittaker, Lauren Price and Galal Yafai will also take home medals, doubling the number of gongs they won at Rio 2016 and securing their best ever haul since the 1920 Games in Antwerp.

“I’m proud to be part of the team,” McCormack added. “We’ve broken all the records from the last squad and got the most medals here, so we’ll go down in history as one of the best GB teams ever.”

Birmingham’s Yafai ensured a medal with victory over Cuba’s Yosvany Veitia earlier on Tuesday, winning on four of the judges’ cards.

“It feels nice to get a medal, the sixth one for GB,” Yafai said. “I’m rooming with Frazer who is in the semi-final and Ben Whittaker who’s in the final – I didn’t want to go home with nothing, I had to make sure I got a medal.”

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London’s Caroline Dubois will not make the podium in the women’s lightweight category after an agonising split decision defeat in her quarter-final against Thailand’s Sudaporn Seesondee.

Meanwhile, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has rejected French super-heavyweight Mourad Aliev’s appeal against his disqualification from his super-heavyweight bout against Clarke for repeated use of his head.

Aliev staged a sitdown protest on Sunday, furious over the controversial ending in the quarter-final bout, after being thrown out by referee Andrew Mustacchio.

While CAS “did not rule out the possibility of a technical error by the referee”, the panel decided to allow the decision to stand as it took place during the fight.

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