For rising amateur boxers, the temptation to turn pro too quickly can be strong. Not only is the platform and viewership significantly greater for pro boxers, but the desire to actually get paid for the hours of dedicated training is understandably great. Turning pro too quickly, however, can cut short an otherwise promising career and increase the risk of significant injuries.
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The most important guideline to follow in deciding if you are ready to turn pro is the opinion of your coaches or trainers. It is a waste of your time and your coach's time to work with a coach you do not trust and who does not have the ability to properly guide you. Assuming your coach has the qualifications and experience to guide you properly -- both in and out of the ring -- you should trust his judgment in deciding when you have the necessary skills to compete professionally. This can require patience on your part.
Being undefeated after a significant number of amateur bouts can seem like a good indicator of your readiness for professional fights. However, this depends significantly on the skill level of the amateurs you face. Also, the number of amateur bouts a boxer should experience before turning pro varies widely from fighter to fighter. In some cases, a boxer may only take a handful of bouts before turning pro while others -- particularly those who wish to reach Golden Gloves or Olympic success as an amateur -- may take at least several dozen. Either way, the skill level of the competition will have a greater impact on your readiness for the professional ring than the simple number of matches.
Licensing and Preparation
As you consider turning pro, you should seek opportunities to spar with established professional fighters. Your coach should be able to set up these opportunities for you. As you grow able to hold your own against successful professional boxers in sparring, you will become more prepared for actual professional fights. According to the Illinois Division of Professional Regulation, once you and your coaches have decided you are ready to turn professional you will need to apply for a professional boxing license with your state's athletic commission.
As Jay Heater wrote in a 2010 Idaho State Journal column: "One money fight and you're done as an amateur." Once you have made the decision to fight as a professional, you will never again be allowed to compete as an amateur. Additionally, the lack of headgear and extra padding at the professional levels raises the stakes of each punch you throw and receive. For power fighters, this can make professional fights easier; for point fighters, however, this can make professional fights more challenging. If you make the jump to professional too early and find yourself out of your depth you have no alternatives. For that reason, it is better to err on the side of patience and caution before turning pro.