The British Lionhearts are going on tour for the 2018 season of the World Series of Boxing (WSB) when the team will compete in Gateshead, Liverpool and Newport.
The decision to take the team out of London for the three group stage matches will give fight fans in the North East, Liverpool and South Wales an opportunity to see local favourites from the GB Boxing squad compete in their hometowns.
Team GB 2016 Olympian and two-time European championship silver medallist, Pat McCormack, and 2017 European championship bronze medallist, Calum French, who both box for Birtley ABC in Tyne and Wear, will compete against the Croatian Kinights at the Gateshead Leisure Centre on Friday 16 February 2018.
Reigning European champion and 2017 world championship bronze medallist, Peter McGrail of Everton Red Triangle, will box against Italia Thunder at The Auditorium at Echo Arena in Liverpool on Friday 2 March 2018.
The line-up for the match with the France Fighting Roosters at Newport Leisure Centre on Saturday 14 April 2018 has not been selected but will feature a strong Welsh interest.
Early bird discount tickets are on sale now, priced £15, at www.gbboxing.org.uk/tickets.
Pat McCormack said: “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 have a very good record in WSB and was voted ‘Boxer of the Season’ in 2016 so am hoping to continue my unbeaten run in the competition.”
Peter McGrail, added: “I love competing in the WSB and I cannot wait to finally get the chance to box for the Lionhearts in my hometown in front of my family and friends. 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.”
The British Lionhearts team is supported by UK Sport and largely comprised of men from the GB Boxing squad along with a small selection of international boxers. All the coaches are provided by GB Boxing and the team is led by GB Boxing’s Performance Director, Rob McCracken.
Matt Holt, Chief Executive of GB Boxing, which oversees the British Lionhearts team, explained: “WSB is a very high quality competition and we have made the decision to move the team around the country so that more boxing fans will have the opportunity to experience it for themselves and see boxers from their hometown competing in this format.
“We are very pleased to be taking WSB to such strong boxing heartlands as Liverpool, South Wales and the North East of England. The local authorities in each of these three areas have been extremely enthusiastic about hosting the Lionhearts and we are looking forward to working with them on these events and putting on a great show for boxing fans in the area.”
Councillor Angela Douglas, Council Member for Culture, Sport and Leisure, Gateshead Council, said: “Gateshead Council takes enormous pride in welcoming such a prestigious sporting event to the area. The North East has a long heritage of developing outstanding boxing talent, and the inclusion of two local athletes in the British Lionhearts team clearly underlines this. We encourage as many local fans as possible to join us at Gateshead Leisure Centre in February, and hope to see this calibre of event become a regular feature in Gateshead.”
Councillor Wendy Simon, Liverpool’s Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Culture, Tourism and Events, said: “It’s a huge coup for the city and the award-winning venue, The Auditorium at Echo Arena, to host this showcase boxing event. The city has always prided itself on the huge amount of boxing talent honed in the city – from Olympic bronze medallist David Price to fellow Olympic boxer Natasha Jonas and the four Smith brothers who all hold titles in their own divisions to name but a few. This a fantastic opportunity to see the best of the best in action in what is sure to be a thrilling boxing match.”
Councillor Debbie Wilcox, Leader of Newport City Council, said: “Newport is proud to be hosting a great line up of sporting events over the next year. Boxing is very popular in our city and we have some great home-grown talent. I’m very pleased that with the support of our leisure partners Newport Live, local people will have the opportunity to take in the atmosphere of the World Series and watch top names compete.”
WSB is a global team boxing competition developed by the International Boxing Association (AIBA), made-up of 11 teams who compete in a league format in three regional groups. It bridges the gap between Olympic and professional boxing and participants compete without vests or headguards over five three-minute rounds using the 10-point-must scoring system. Each match is made-up of five bouts and a team that wins three or more gets the win.
All of the major boxing nations have a team in WSB which features some of the best boxers in the world from the Olympic format of the sport. Previous participants include Team GB’s Rio Olympic medallists, Joe Joyce and Joshua Buatsi, and the man many regard as the finest pound-for-pound boxer in the world, Vasyl Lomachenko, who competed twice for the Ukraine Ottamans against the British Lionhearts in 2013.
The Managing Director of WSB, Ken Crease, said: “There is no other competition in boxing like WSB, one look at the sporting and social commitment of the British Lionhearts and the response of its fans across the past Seasons shows the impact that it has had on the sport. We are very pleased to see them competing one more Season with us, and we wish them all the best in this eighth edition of WSB.”
Esther Britten, Head of Major Events of UK Sport, said: “It is fantastic that the World Series of Boxing will be staged across the UK so that sport fans will get the chance to see their local heroes from the GB Boxing team compete in their hometowns. Through the funding commitment from partners, including UK Sport, GB Boxing and The National Lottery, we are confident the great sporting cities of Gateshead, Liverpool and Newport will provide fantastic events and continue the momentum of hosting world class major events across the UK.”
More details on the British Lionhearts are available at http://www.gbboxing.org.uk/world-series-boxing/ and by following the team on twitter at @Brit_Lionhearts.