After a successful amateur career that spanned nine years, Steve Geffrard is ready for the obvious transition. Geffrard, a Boca Raton resident, will make his professional debut in March
“With the exception of an Olympic gold medal, I accomplished almost everything else as an amateur,” Geffrard said Friday. “I didn’t feel it would be wise to wait another four years for another Olympic opportunity.”
When Geffrard, a 22-year-old Boca Raton St. Andrews High graduate, steps into the ring for his first pro bout, he will have noteworthy backing.
Geffrard’s impressive amateur background has caught the attention of Golden Boy Promotions. The company, founded by Oscar De La Hoya, is one of the sport’s top power brokers and will promote Geffrard.
Moreover, Geffrard will be trained by Ronnie Shields, one of the sport’s most respected trainers.
“This has happened so fast,” Geffrard said. “It is quite an honor to have the support of an important promoter like Golden Boy. I am also looking forward to working with Ronnie Shields.”
Geffrard doesn’t know the date or opponent for his first fight, but Golden Boy has a card planned for March 9 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Part-time Miami Beach resident Bernard Hopkins will challenge light-heavyweight champion Tavoris Cloud in the card’s main event.
“That would be sweet, my first fight in a big arena like Barclays Center,” Geffrard said. “Instead of a small club show, I could be fighting before a large crowd in my debut.”
Geffrard said he will leave Feb. 8 for Houston, where Shields is based, and begin training for his debut. The decision to try professional boxing will require a break from Geffrard’s education at Nova Southeastern University, where he is a third-year business administration major.
“We should know within a week, where I will have my first fight,” Geffrard said.
Although his most recent amateur bouts were in the 201-pound heavyweight division, Geffrard said the initial phase of his professional career will be fought at the 175-pound light-heavyweight class.
“Making 201 pounds in the amateurs sometimes proved difficult,” Geffrard said. “As I advanced through rounds in a tournament, I lost weight. In the pros, we will start at light heavyweight and see where we go from there.”
Geffrard’s professional aspirations heightened after his loss in the Olympic trials that selected the 2012 U.S. Olympic team last spring. Nonetheless, Geffrard had a distinguished amateur career — highlighted by his “triple crown” accomplishment in 2010, when he won the National Golden Gloves, USA Boxing National and the National PAL championships.
“I felt this was the right time to make the move to the pros,” Geffrard said. “When I prepared for the Olympic Trials, I had a chance to work out at the Wild Card Gym in California, where many great professional fighters train. That got me a better understanding of the pro game.
“Now I can’t wait for my opportunity.”
Late Saturday, Mikey Garcia won the World Boxing Organization featherweight title with a technical unanimous decision over defending champion Orlando Salido at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Garcia (31-0) scored four knockdowns in the first four rounds and overwhelmed Salido (39-12-2) through the first eight rounds. In the eighth round, Garcia broke his nose after an accidental clash of heads and ringside physicians determined he could not continue fighting.
Garcia was ahead on all three scorecards, 79-69 (twice) and 79-70 when the fight was stopped.
On the same card, Gennady Golovkin successfully defended his World Boxing Association middleweight title with a seventh-round technical knockout win over Gabriel Rosado, and Roman Martinez retained his WBO junior-lightweight belt after his title defense against Juan Carlos Burgos ended in a draw.