Boxing

It's a sin that either me or Luke McCormack won't win Commonwealth medal says Sean McComb

Sean McComb faces Luke McCormack at Oxenford Studios tomorrow for a place in the light-welterweight quarter-finals. Picture by Hugh Russell
Neil Loughran

SEAN McComb admits it is “a sin” that either he or Luke McCormack will leave the Gold Coast empty-handed as they prepare for tomorrow’s Commonwealth Games face off.

English light-welter McCormack saw off Uganda’s Kavuma Ssemujju to book his place in the last 16, where he will renew acquaintances with McComb 10 months after they last shared the ring at 2017 the European Championships.

On that occasion the Birtley fighter took a controversial split decision win over the Holy Trinity southpaw, the judges giving McCormack the nod even though McComb appeared to control rounds two and three.

Tomorrow’s fight, which is scheduled for around 11.15am, has already been billed as the de facto final at 64kg, with the loser walking away with nothing while the winner moves into Tuesday’s quarter-final.

“It’s a sin that one of us won’t win a Commonwealth medal, but that’s boxing for you,” said McComb.

“If you’re going to win gold, it doesn’t matter who you fight or when. Look at Michael Conlan in Glasgow four years ago – you could call it a bad draw in terms of the fighters he got, but it’s not really a bad draw if he beats them all, is it?

“He drew the Indian [Shiva Thapa], who was higher than Mick in the world rankings at the time, then he drew Sean McGoldrick who won gold at the previous Commonwealths.

“The way I look at it, if you’re going to win gold, then it’s only a bad draw for your opponents.”

McComb was at Oxenford Studios on Thursday to run the rule over McCormack, and feels the 21-year-old was holding back against a game but limited opponent.

“He wasn’t great, he was very flat, but I think he wasn’t showing much. He was just going through the motions by the looks of things.

“The guy he was fighting kept coming, he had a bit of heart about him but he wasn’t up to much. He wasn’t up to the level of McCormack and McCormack sort of knew that as well.”

Sean McComb v Luke McCormack in last year's European Championship quarter-final

With anticipation building ahead of the match-up, McComb isn’t getting caught up in any talk of a revenge mission - though even now he feels that European Championship quarter-final defeat was a huge opportunity that passed him by.

The Belfast fighter had looked like the favourite for gold after defeating reigning world champion Vitaly Dunaytsev in his first fight, but exited the following day, punished for a slow start.

Tomorrow, insists McComb, he won’t make the same mistakes tomorrow.

“It was my first ever time in the ring with him so it took me a while to get a feel of him, but now I know what he’s about,” added the 25-year-old.

“I was coming down off a massive win against Dunaytsev, I was buzzing after that and I probably dropped down a level.

“It took being hit with a couple of stupid wee shots to sort of say ‘hold on, what am I playing at here? I need to treat this like a fight against a world champion too’. When I got going, I felt I won the last two rounds handy enough.

“It doesn’t matter now, this is a completely new me."

John Conlan wasn’t in Kharkiv last June, and McComb says having the Ulster High Performance coach in his corner can only help his cause.
 
“John and Zaur [Antia] are similar in how they work with us, their plans are very similar, but John gives you wee reminders all the time about the basics and that can make the difference. 
 
“Zaur’s really technical and sometimes when he’s giving you technical instructions – which I think are brilliant by the way – you can forget the basics, the fundamentals of boxing and sometimes they’re the most important things."

Steven Donnelly got Team NI off to a winning start at the Commonwealth Games yesterday, and faces Gibrilla Kamara from Sierra Leone in the middleweight last 16 tomorrow. Photo by Sportsfile

DONNELLY GETS THE BALL ROLLING AGAIN WITH VICTORY OVER JONES

AT the Rio Olympics two years ago, Steven Donnelly got the Irish ball rolling with a win – and he repeated the dose yesterday by battling past Welshman Kyran Jones.

The Ballymena middleweight, boxing at his third Commonwealth Games, controlled the opening two rounds before tiring in the last, with Jones landing a couple of eye-catching shots.

But Donnelly had already done enough by that stage to take a 4-1 split decision, and advance to a last 16 showdown with Gibrilla Kamara tomorrow between 5am and 6am.

“It was a very hard fight, I had to dig in but I was always in control,” said the 29-year-old, a bronze medallist four years ago in Glasgow.

“The first fight’s always the hardest but once I progress and the competition goes on, I get better and better and you’ll see that now.

“We were in training camp before we came here and I did a test match with him - he’s very good and tricky, and young too, so it’s a good win. I caught him with the cleaner shots and hurt him a couple of times as well.

“That’s a good positive start but we’re not finished yet, there’s another four fights for me.”

Elsewhere tomorrow, in between the last 16 action featuring Donnelly and Sean McComb, Kristina O’Hara has the opportunity to secure Team NI’s first medal.

The St John Bosco light-fly faces Lynsey Holdaway of Wales in the 48kg quarter-final, while in the early hours of Monday morning St George’s lightweight James McGivern gets his campaign under way against Thadius Katua of Papua New Guinea.

SCHEDULE

Today

56kg last 16: Kurt Walker v Jack Bowen (Aus) (3.30am approx)

69kg last 16: Aidan Walsh v Gul Zaib (Pak) (5am approx)

Tomorrow

75kg last 16: Steven Donnelly v Gibrilla Kamara (SLe) (5.30am approx)

48kg quarter-final: Kristina O’Hara v Lynsey Holdaway (Wal) (9.30am approx)

64kg last 16: Sean McComb v Luke McCormack (Eng) (11.15am approx)

Monday

60kg last 16: James McGivern v Thadius Katua (PNG) (5am approx)

52kg last 16: Brendan Irvine v Jabali Breedy (Barbados) (10.30am approx)

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