Rising New Zealand boxing star Jerome Pampellone returns to the professional ranks this Saturday (February 13) when he takes on Mandela Ale in the main event of Peach Boxing's upcoming fight night in Auckland's ABA Stadium.
The pair's four-round light heavyweight bout, set to broadcast live on Spark Sport, will be Pampellone's second professional outing after defeating Thomas Russell in December via unanimous decision. The Ale bout will be the start of what is shaping up to be a busy year for Pampellone, as he looks to establish his credentials in the professional scene.
"I am really excited as being in the pros was something I always wanted to do, and it's here now. I have a whole heap of fights lined up, which is cool, and I just got to keep active and be safe," Pampellone said to NZ Fighter.
Ale may be a newcomer to the 'sweet science,' but he is a talented and experienced Muay Thai fighter who packs knockout power, and will not be stepping into the ring merely to make up the numbers on Saturday night.
"I am not sure what he is going to bring," Pampellone says.
" I just got to be prepared for anything. I just have to be on my game and focus on our gameplan, and if anything changes, be able to change too but just focus on our gameplan," he added.
" It's been a little bit different because he [Ale] is a southpaw, and we are doing a little bit more southpaw. Which is good too because we are training both sides learning orthodox and southpaw."
Pampellone, who still harbours aspirations of making the Tokyo Olympics, comes into this bout on the back of capturing his third straight light heavyweight national amateur championship. He overcame the South Island's Jeshaiah Perelini in January inside the Te Rauparaha Arena, Porirua.
"That was great. I thought I would not be able to get another national title because I was turning pro, but I was able to because of the circumstances. It was cool getting another title under my belt. I have been training hard, and I think it's been showing."
The new Olympic ruling regarding professional boxers means fighters can compete in a set amount of professional bouts and remain eligible to compete at the Olympics. Pampellone, who made it into the top 8 of the 2019 AIBA World Boxing Championships, hopes to attend a qualifying tournament in Paris later this year. However, with the world still in the grips of Covid-19, the Peach Boxing trained fighter is not letting Olympic dreams distract from the tasks at hand.
"At the moment, I am just fully focused on being a pro at the moment because that is what we decided to do," he exclaimed.
"The Olympics is in the air, but I am still training full time. I am in the gym every day. I am still actively training, which is what I need, and if the Olympics come, it will be awesome, but at the moment, my focus is the pro fights coming up."
Peach Boxing is currently home to the likes of WBO Cruiserweight world No.6 David Light, NZ Middleweight and Super Welterweight Champion Andrei Mikhailovich, and one of NZ's top up and coming female fighters in Mea Motu. It's an environment Pampellone is thriving in.
"Everyone has the same vibe; we are all focused, we love training hard. We love being together. It's just a great atmosphere. Everyone wants to be the best, and everyone wants to push each other to be the best."
After Saturday, Pampellone's next appearance will be on the undercard of the highly anticipated Joesph Parker-Junior Fa clash on February 27. Pampellone's opponent has not been announced, but while he is excited about fighting on a major card, his immediate attention is on Ale.
"I am so happy I got that opportunity [Parker-Fa undercard]. I can't wait for it, but first up, I got Mandela, so I am focusing on that fight for the time being, and we want the win."