COLUMBIANA — Keith Burnside wasn’t quite sure what to think five years ago when a kid named Jake Giuriceo began showing up at his house every day to train in the garage.
“I wanted to see what kind of a kid he was, so I told him to be there at 7:30 every morning,” Burnside said. “He’d walk three or four miles from Campbell to get there and he never missed a day.
“I didn’t really have much to work out with, so I sent him to other gyms, but he just kept coming back,” Burnside said. “That’s when I knew about his work ethic and how hungry he was. I’ve never seen anyone train as hard as he does.”
It is that kind of dedication and work ethic that Giuriceo spoke about Wednesday night when he addressed a couple dozen youth at The Fitness Source in Columbiana.
Giuriceo, who made his professional boxing debut last month as part of the Kelly Pavlik undercard, was there to serve as a motivator for the young athletes who train at the facility.
“You only have one body, so you have to take care of it and make it stronger,” Giuriceo said. “It was rough getting started, but with boxing, I just fell in love with the sport.
“I wish I had started as young as some of you. It took me a while to learn and right now, I’m just chasing a dream.”
Giuriceo won his first pro fight against Michael Suarez with a second-round knockout at super lightweight. In his amateur career, he posted a record of 28-4 after getting his start as part of the KO Drugs event, where he was 17-0.
Now 24, he’s come a long way from training in Burnside’s garage and believes that he has a bright future as a professional fighter. He’s still training under Burnside at a facility on Simon Road in Youngstown.
He trains seven days a week, which includes traditional boxing work on the bags and in the ring, as well as a lot of cardio workouts and some work with the Jump Stretch system, like he did at The Fitness Source.
In addition to speaking to the kids and working out with them for an hour, Giuriceo gave a punching demonstration.
The event was put together by his manager Joe Corvino, the president of PHD, a manufacturing company in Columbiana. Through his connection with Patti and Wayne Johnson, who run The Fitness Source, he set up the promotion and thought it would be a win-win for everyone.
“It was a great opportunity for Jake to get his name out there in another community,” said Corving, whose company employs Burnside and Giuriceo. “He has some following in the Youngstown area, but people here in Columbiana County may not know about him.
“And it’s a good motivator for these kids to see his work ethic and see that it can pay off. Jake’s a good kid and he likes to help other people.”
Giuriceo is on his way to getting noticed after his performance at the Chevrolet Centre. He already has another professional fight scheduled for April 25 in Johnstown, Pa., as part of the TKO Show. The contract is set to arrive this week with all the details.
The opponent is still unknown, but that’s really immaterial to Giuriceo at this juncture of his pro career.
“Everything has fallen into place in the last three years, so we’re just going harder,” Giuriceo said. “Hopefully, in three more years, I’ll be the super lightweight champion of the world.”