With former Augusta Boxing Club director Tom Moraetes and new trainer Ronnie Shields by his side, Augusta’s Justin DeLoach announced his intention to become a professional boxer at the club Thursday.
DeLoach, a 2012 Butler graduate, has been training and competing at the Augusta club since he was 8. DeLoach, now 18, used to run from Murphey Middle School to the club “so Tom wouldn’t put me on the treadmill for being late,” and has a supporting team sporting some of the bigger names in boxing.
Moraetes reached out to Shields to give DeLoach a tryout at his 40,000 square foot gym in Houston, and Shields came away impressed.
“When I met him for the first time, he brightened up everything,” Shields said. “He’s so full of life, enjoying his life, and I really liked that. But when I put him through workouts, I was like, ‘Hey, this kid might have something.’ I think he has what it takes.”
Shields has previously trained Evander Holyfield, Vernon Forrest and Ray Whitfield. The team’s adviser will be Al Haymon, who currently represents Floyd Mayweather.
“(Haymon) is known throughout the sport because he has the best fighters,” Shields said. “HBO and Showtime run to him. He’s the best guy in the sport.”
DeLoach has an aggressive target date of March 2 for his first professional fight in the welterweight division. Shields said the fight is projected to be held in California with Oscar De La Hoya as the promoter. An opponent has not been decided.
“This was the dream,” said DeLoach, who is 5-foot-11 and weighs 155 pounds. “I stuck with it. I started competing, started winning and now I’m here.”