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Just champion as duo clinch national crowns; birtley pair grab glory in hard-fought finals.

BIRTLEY produced two England senior champions and a runner-up in a mammoth box fest at the Magna Arena in Sheffield.

Luke McCormack and Tommy Hodgson were crowned England Boxing elite national champions while Joe Laws also made his final.

Luke became a two-weight champion like his twin Pat and justified his No.1 seeding at 64kg.

He first beat Ryan Hart of Mayflower ABC on unanimous points in the quarter-finals which took him into the semis to meet the well-fancied Elliot Whale from Nemesis, an awkward southpaw.

Again McCormack was a winner on all scorecards to set up the perfect final against No.2 seed and English title belt holder Martin Mcdonagh (Rumbles ABC), another southpaw.

"Luke started slowly, looking to find his range and using his jab," said Birtley head coach Graeme Rutherford. "He began landing good right hands through the middle.

"McCormack was given a warning for hitting on the break in the third but this spurred him on to up the gears and he started to look the class act he is, scoring with right hands and left hooks to head and body." Hodgson overcame Stephen Rolfe (Retford) on a split in the quarterfinals and Mason Smith, who was the No.1 seed and GB full-time boxer ,in the semis in a cracking bout.

That pitted the Birtley lad against Callum Thompson from Tower Hill in the 60kg final.

"The first round was slow, with Thompson being a southpaw Tommy looking to find his range, but it was Hodgson's round," added Rutherford. "Thompson started to come forward more in the second but Tommy upped the pace with double attacks and scored with good right hand and left hooks.

"The third saw Tommy starting to work angles as he attacked and as he did he landed more and more right hands and left hooks to win his first national title by a split decision.

"We are over the moon for a lad who has had no luck at times, with injuries striking at bad times.

"He has also suffered tough decisions in semi-finals against fancied lads. However he has stuck in, got his weight right and always believed he could do it at top level."

Boxing at 69kg, Laws defeated Luke Fisher (Army) and Jack Rafferty to reach his final and face youth world silver medallist Harris Akbar.

"Joe had picked up a bad nose injury the day before and it was testament to his character he boxed," said Rutherford.

"It was a good club performance in that, with top lads Calum French, Pat McCormack, and Cyrus Pattison out, we still managed two winners and a finalist."

Ben Rees lost to GB No 2 seed Jordan Reynolds of Hoddeson on a split while Hannah Shields had a bye through to the 69kg semi-final where she boxed the No.1 seed and was beaten on unanimous points.

There were quarter-final exits for High Fell's Jeffrey Nesham to Louie Lynn (Nemesis) and Michael Webster of Blyth's Empire School of Boxing to No.1 seed Cheavron Clarke. |BIRTLEY have six boxers in the Schoolboy Championships at Easington on Saturday.

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Luke McCormack and inset left, finalist Joe Laws

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Apr 26, 2017
Words:528
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