When Savin Hill’s Jonathan DePina steps into the ring at Encore Boston Harbor Resort Friday night, it will mark his first foray from the amateur world of boxing into a professional arena. But it will also represent the culmination of a months-long journey to recovery for the 24-year-old lightweight. In October of last year, just days after qualifying for the National Championships in
Tennessee, he broke his right hand. A few months later, in January, two weeks before the New England regional Golden Gloves competition, he broke it again. Then he did it a third time a few months later.
“I had been so anxious since I broke it to get back to fighting, and I ended up rushing it,” DePina explained. “I was in the gym all day, never taking breaks, and it never gave me a chance to heal. All the wear and tear from punching all the time, it caught up with me. But I finally learned my lesson.”
After two surgeries that left a permanent screw in his hand, DePina was wiser, opting for a slower recovery process and a return to boxing basics. “I feel like everything happens for a reason, you know, everything’s a learning experience. Before, I was fighting so much that I didn’t have time to sit down and train...having all that time off, I sat back and worked on fundamentals. I was working on my jab, on my lead hand, my footwork, sparring with one hand. It made me better mentally and it made me a better fighter.”
Now back at full strength, DePina is looking to capitalize on his good health while he can by
making the leap to the pros.
“We figured since I’m getting injured now, I might as well go pro. I might as well make money for
DePina will take on an undetermined opponent in a four-round bout on the undercard of Friday’s event, which is sponsored by Murphy’s Boxing and will be broadcast live on UFC Fight Pass. He’s feeling confident ahead of the fight, thanks to the work he has put in in recent months with renowned trainer Hector Bermudez at Peter Welch’s Gym in South Boston.
Bermudez, whom DePina calls “one of the best coaches in the world,” has worked internationally with fighters at the professional and Olympic levels. Training at that level among seasoned fighters figures to give DePina a leg up on whatever opponent he shares the ring with on Friday.
“I feel like I’ve always had a pro style,” he said, “and since I train with those guys it’ll be even
easier for me to adapt.”
The switch to a professional format means a few small rule changes for DePina. “No head gear, so you gotta be extra cautious,” he said. But all things considered, the Dorchester native has never felt more at home.
“I’m excited. It’s my first time actually fighting near the city,” he said. “I’ve fought in Lowell before, but as an amateur, I never got to fight near Boston, so I’m gonna bring a whole crowd. Friends, family...I hope the whole city shows out.”
Murphys Boxing Presents live boxing Friday, August 23 at Encore Boston Harbor Resort. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for purchase online at murphysboxing.com