Golden wonders. That was the McCormack brothers tonight as they clinched glory at the European Union Championships.
Both Luke and Pat had medalled this year at the Commonwealth Games and Gold Belt but in Spain it was a case of twin gold – and rightly so.
Luke won the light-welterweight title with a unanimous points victory over Paulo Di Lernia, while Pat took the welter crown in the final bout of the competition with a 4-1 success against Spain’s Youba Sissokho.
The Washington double act won half of the English golds in Valladolid, but their Graeme Rutherford-trained Birtley comrade and friend, Calum French, had to settle for silver at lightweight, one of four runner up spots for the GB team.
Luke McCormack, too often for his liking, has been forced to settle for second or third place on the rostrum.
Not tonight. The 23-year-old struck gold with an excellent display against Paulo Di Lernia.
Boosted by a fine week in the historic Spanish city, where he saw off boxers from Austria, Georgia and Macedonia, he began with confidence.
Luke drove in five strong rights and later in the round delivered some sharp combinations.
McCormack found the mark in the second round with a short right to the body and with the cleaner work he remained in charge.
Di Lernia needed to chance his arm in the last and to the Italian’s credit he put in a strong finale, to the delight of his corner. The judges from Belgium and Finland scored it 29-28 for Luke, with the officials from Austria, Macedonia and Poland all marking it 30-27.
Pat McCormack’s U69 kilo contest with Sissokho was held until the climax of the show.
McCormack had just seen flyweight Will Cawley lose out in an England v Spain final to Mascu Escobar, but the Birtley bullet ensured lightning did not strike twice.
Round one saw Pat on the prowl with one great right down the middle, while the Spaniard flicked out long-range shots in reply.
McCormack took charge in round two with some superb close-range combinations and the home boxer had no answer to the Commonwealth Games welterweight king’s hand and foot speed.
Having dished out some stinging punches in the middle session, Pat was more measured in the last, but still scored impressively.
Sissokho lifted both fists at the final bell, with McCormack following suit yet it was the Wearsider who, deservedly, had his arm raised when the decision was announced.
The Romanian judge gave the first and third rounds to Sissokho in a 29-28 card in the Spaniard’s favour, but the French, Slovakian and Bulgarian officials all marked it 30-27 to McCormack with the Croatian observer scoring it 29-28 to Pat, pictured above.
Sadly there wasn’t to be triple gold for Birtley.
It was French v France in the lightweight final, where Calum had the misfortune to come up against the slick Sofiane Oumiha.
The Olympic silver medalist is a quality boxer and mover and while the Birtley boxer tried to set the pace throughout and landed several nice shots, Oumiha had the edge. The 23-year-old thought he was John Travolta in the later stages though this was a case of Sunday Night Fever as all five judges scored it in his favour, 30-26 (x3), 30-27, 30-25.
Despite the pain of defeat in the showpiece, overall it was a good week for French in Spain.
The southpaw beat the boxers from Macedonia, Belgium and Italy in the run up to the finals day.