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It’s a moment Josh Prince has been waiting for his entire boxing career.
From the time he first stepped in the ring at Tri-Town Boxing in North Sydney, Prince had the goal of reaching the professional ranks like many great Cape Breton fighters before him.
The Georges River product will get his first opportunity to prove himself at the professional level when he makes his debut Friday during the Valentine’s Day Massacre boxing card at Centre 200 in Sydney.
The 20-year-old will challenge Adam Hazelton in a four-round super middleweight bout as part of the event’s undercard.
Hazelton, a Yarmouth, N.S. native, has one professional boxing bout under his belt. He defeated Brad Sullivan by technical knockout on Nov. 21 in Halifax.
The 33-year-old Hazelton has also participated in eight professional mixed martial arts fights and holds a 5-3-0 record.
“I think it’s going to be a good fight,” said Prince. “He’s a tough opponent, so I’m looking forward to it — I think the crowd will be pleased.”
Prince began boxing when he was a teenager because he considered himself overweight and wanted to be more physically active.
When he was 16 years old, Prince realized a career in boxing was a strong possibility and began focusing more of his time on the sport and improving each day in the ring.
“I was doing a lot of hard training and I loved every part of it,” said Prince. “I loved the training, the people I had the chance to meet and I knew this was something I wanted to do.”
During his amateur career, Prince posted a 22-13 record and participated in various national and international boxing events.
He competed at two Canadian national championships, winning the bronze medal both times. He also took part in the Ringside World Boxing Tournament in Kansas City, Mo., three times. In June 2017, he travelled to London, England, to fight in the Haringey Box Cup and also participated in various Brampton Cup events in Ontario.
In recent years, Prince turned his attention to becoming a professional with help from coaches Dave Williams, Alton MacKinnon, Steven MacDonald and Mike Gerrow.
“We really sat down and thought about it,” said Prince. “We’ve been wanting to do it the last two years, but we thought it would be a good time to do it now — it’s a big opportunity.”
Prince hasn’t fought since winning a unanimous decision in his final amateur bout on April 13, 2019, in Truro. Despite the layoff, he doesn’t think rust will play a factor Friday.
“With the sparring we’ve been putting in, we’re feeling really good, really loose and it almost feels like I never had my last fight in April,” said Prince, who found out in November he’d be fighting on the card.
“I’ve been training like always, getting lots of sprints in, getting lots of really good sparring in with some bigger guys and some high-calibre guys as well as lots of strength and conditioning.”
With family and friends in attendance, Prince said he isn’t nervous about the bout — for now.
“There will probably be a little bit of nerves the day before the fight and a little bit before it, but not really too much nerves,” he said. “We’re taking it easy right now with light training.”
The main event for Friday’s card will feature Sydney Forks’ Ryan Rozicki (11-0-0, 11KOs) defending his WBC International Silver Cruiserweight Championship against Czech Republic native Vladimir Reznicek (9-2-2, 3KOs).
Prince said he’s grateful to have the opportunity to fight on the six-bout event in his hometown, especially with Rozicki on the card.
“I can’t wait for it,” he said. “I’ve been to the fight cards before in Sydney and the crowd Ryan brings in and the atmosphere of the fans, there’s no better fight crowd compared to Cape Breton.
Other bouts on the card include Jessie Wilcox of Hamilton against Luis Montelongo of Mexico City, Brandon Brewer of Richville, N.B. facing Josue Castaneda Perez of Gomez Palacio, Mexico, as well as Dominic Babineau of Richibucto Village, N.B. against Pedro Bernal of Mexico City. Carolyn Redmond of Keswick, N.B. will battle Karina Rodriguez of Mexico.
Tickets are available at the Centre 200 box office or online at tickets.capebreton.ca.
As for Prince, he’s counting down the hours until fight time.
“I feel the best I ever felt,” said Prince. “I feel the strongest I’ve felt, and I feel my boxing is going to a different level now — I’m ready for this debut.”