Boxing fans across the country will have their chance to see the best amateur fighters in the world on their doorstep as the British Lionhearts go on tour for their 2018 season.
The World Series of Boxing (WSB), which previously saw the British Lionhearts hold their home fixtures at York Hall, East London, will travel to Gateshead, Liverpool and Newport for their group-stage matches.
February will see Rio Olympian Pat McCormack and 2017 European Championship bronze medallist Calum French – both hailing from Birtley – take on the Croatian Knights at the Gateshead Leisure Centre in front of a partisan home crowd.
“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,” said McCormack.
“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.”
While in March, Everton Red Triangle’s Peter McGrail will hope to show the form that took him to a world bronze medal in The Auditorium at the Echo Arena when the Lionhearts take on Italia Thunder.
“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,” added McGrail.
“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.”
And in April Britain’s best amateurs will take on the France Fighting Roosters at Newport Leisure Centre.
The Lionhearts have enjoyed recent success in the competition, making the 2016 final before eventually falling to the Cuba Domadores.
In 2017 they made the final four, where they were downed by eventual winners Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, and GB Boxing chief executive Matt Holt is excited by what is to come in 2018.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
British Lionhearts home fixtures – 2018:
February 16 vs Croatian Knights – Gateshead Leisure Centre
March 2 vs Italia Thunder – The Auditorium, Echo Arena
April 14 vs France Fighting Roosters – Newport Leisure Centre
Early bird discount tickets are on sale now, priced £15, at www.gbboxing.org.uk/tickets