Nearly a year ago, Justin DeLoach flashed an infectious smile and announced his intention to become a professional boxer.
Surrounded by his future supporting cast, DeLoach faced the family and friends that had supported him for much of his life and made the announcement at the Augusta Boxing Club, where he first honed his skills.
One year later, DeLoach said his first year as a pro exceeded his expectations.
“It’s been an amazing year,” he said. “I’m very blessed. When you turn pro, most only have three fights at the most in their first year, but I had six. That’s incredible. I got the hang of it fast.”
The 19-year-old welterweight has made a quick rise in his first year.
DeLoach finished the year 6-0, including four knockouts. His fights ranged from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Las Vegas and California, all with similar results. His first professional fight was a unanimous decision over Martin Gonzalez in Texas this past April.
He followed with a technical knockout in the first round against Jonathan Olivera in June. He picked up consecutive knockout victories over Carl Hill and Robert Hill, and a win over Kelvin Medley in Las Vegas.
DeLoach said his training took a major turn when he became a pro, with more intense workouts becoming routine.
“It’s a huge change from amateur to pro,” he said. “I’ve gotten bigger and stronger, and training has been tremendous. I’ve worked my butt off. I’ve improved in a lot of areas.”
DeLoach remains with trainer Ronnie Shields and strength coach Danny Arnold. Former Augusta Boxing Club director Tom Moraetes reached out to Shields prior to this year to give DeLoach a chance. After a tryout at Shields’ sprawling Houston gym, DeLoach caught his eye and became his newest fighter.
DeLoach has experienced rapid success at an early rate, appearing in the 2012 USA Boxing National Championships after a 41-5 amateur record at the time, and a National Silver Gloves title at 13 years old.
Now 19, the Butler graduate has six pro wins under his belt and is seeking more while also expecting his first child soon. His biggest goal of 2014 is earning boxing’s prospect of the year award.
“All I can say is I’m blessed,” he said. “It’s been incredible so far.”