Donald Griffin has given up his chance to represent the United States in the 2016 Olympics by officially becoming a professional boxer.
“I decided to go ahead and become pro, instead of waiting around for another four years,” Griffin said Wednesday.
Griffin, a Pine Bluff native, started his professional career with a victory Saturday in Salt Like City, Utah.
Griffin, 20, defeated Jason Tresvan of Las Vegas by unanimous decision. The judges scored the fight 40-34, 40-36, 40-36.
Griffin knocked down Tresvan in the second round. After the fight, Griffin said he was trying to get points, so he threw a lot of punches early.
“The altitude was real high, so it got heavy on me,” Griffin said. “I was basically punishing the guy, but he threw in a couple of good licks.”
Griffin made the decision to turn pro following the Olympic Trials earlier this year.
“I can’t try out for the Olympics again because I declared pro,” Griffin said.
During the trials during the summer, Griffin defeated Jamal Harris of Pensacola, Fla., by a 16-9 decision. He also fought Andy Vences of San Jose, Calif.
Griffin fought Erasmo Garcia on March 10 in Hot Springs for the 152-pound championship. Griffin beat Anthony Woods of East Arkansas Boxing Club and Bobby Watson of Conway in North Little Rock to make it to the title bout.
Griffin earned his fifth trip to Nationals earlier this year.
Griffin said he hopes to get in another professional fight before the end of the year.
“We have a fight about every two months,” Griffin said. “We are looking for some potential opponents and hoping to get in another opponent before the year is up.”
Griffin said he hopes the fight will either take place in Memphis or Houston, Texas – two places he’s never fought at before.
Currently, Griffin is training with Clifton Owens. Owens was Jermaine Taylor’s camp manager for most of Taylor’s professional career.
“It was a smart decision,” Griffin said of becoming pro. “It has just been a slow start right now, because there is no money it.”
To make ends meet, Griffin works at the Davis Life Care Center in Pine Bluff.
While Griffin waits for his next match, he uses a strict running regimen and weight lifting to keep his body in physical shape.
“Whenever something comes up, my training will become more intense,” Griffin said. “Right now, I just run, lift weights, and some shadow boxing, until I actually have an opponent in front of me.”
Griffin is a Dollarway High School graduate and nursing student at Southeast Arkansas College. He’s been boxing since he was 13.
“I was getting trouble in school,” Griffin said. “And my mom said, if I was going to keep getting in trouble, I might as well make money so they put me in the gym.”