Napolitano ready for pro debut
Prior to competing at his first Canadian senior amateur boxing championships in April, Antonio Napolitano fully intended to turn pro.
But there was a certain amount of hesitancy as the 24-year-old St. Catharines resident pondered that decision.
“Turning pro is a lot more than just stepping in the ring,” the 2018 Canadian senior silver medalist said. “There’s so much paperwork and tasks and you have to have people who are willing to back you up.
“You have to have a team and there’s so much that has to be in place and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get it all together, but I did.”
Turning pro involved the application for a boxing licence which meant several trips to Toronto to visit the Ontario Athletics Commission and a whole battery of medical tests to ensure that he was fit and healthy to box.
“All these tests came back positive and I have no history of concussion in my life and no history of any kind of problems.”
Napolitano nows hopes to make history of another kind as he begins his pro career this Saturday at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre (formerly Hershey Centre) in Mississauga.
But before he boxed Saturday, he was involved in the promotion of the fight.
“It was on me to sell tickets,” Napolitano said. “It was so much and it kind of distracts you from the actual fight and training,” he said. “Selling tickets is very stressful, but that is all part of pro boxing.”
He will be part of a United Boxing Promotions’ 10-fight card that features IBA intercontinental lightweight champion Josh O’Reilly in the main event. Napolitano will fight Mexico’s Raul Alberto Viramontes.
“I don’t think he is the most skilled fighter, but he is just going to come forward and try and survive,” Napolitano said. “They just want to see if I can get him out of there and I plan on going home early.”
He will be fighting in the middleweight division which required him to lose some weight. Amateur middleweights fight at 165 pounds, but the maximum at the pro level is 160 pounds.
“It was a tougher weight cut, but I will manage,” he said. “It sucks because I am a fat kid at heart. I love to eat Italian and it will be a little bit of a self-control test, but you have to do it.”
Napolitano didn’t expect to earn much money early on in his boxing career, but the Laura Secord alumnus has been pleasantly surprised with his first pugilistic payday.
“I am making a lot more than I expected to make, especially if you sell a lot of tickets you can get a nice cash bonus,” he said. “It’s a start and I will pay off my credit cards.”
Getting paid a decent amount is important because Napolitano is treating boxing as his full-time job.
“If I can get a fight every month, that’s enough money for me,” he said. “If you are making $1,800 a month doing one fight a month, you are doing alright. And then you hope the fights get bigger and the money gets bigger.”
By focusing solely on boxing, Napolitano feels he is giving himself the best chance for success.
‘Where do you get in life if you think something is too risky?” he said. “I’m not trying to go work at Starbucks. I’d rather really take a chance.”
Napolitano is hoping to take advantage of trainer Billy Irwin’s connections with promoters in the United States to help fill out his fight schedule.
“He’s very well connected and all I have to do is worry about fighting because he knows the right people who will do the rest.”
Irwin and his brother Mike will be in Napolitano’s corner as he begins his pro boxing journey. Billy is also helping to manage Napolitano’s career.
“We look at the fights that the promoters send us. He has been around for so long and if he sees something he doesn’t like, he will say no,” he said. “He is guiding me but, at the end of the day, I have to sign the contract.”
Napolitano remembers reading about Billy Irwin’s pro boxing exploits in the newspaper.
“No matter what happens in the ring, he has been in that situation and he can tell me what I have to do.”
He feels Mike Irwin has a lot of the same attributes.
“He was with Billy his whole career and he has just as much experience,” Napolitano said. “They are two great guys who know the game so I am in good hands.”