A mixed martial arts boxer from Gainsborough says he has high hopes of making his professional debut this year after five years on the amateur circuit.
Ricardo ‘Rico’ Franco, 23, began competing in the sport in 2011 and has taken part in bouts all over this country and as far afield as Thailand.
But now he is aiming to get onto the professional circuit in the UK and to build on his impressive amateur record.
He said: “I’ve had around 40 fights in various disciplines including boxing, mixed martial arts, K1 and Muay Thai, but am likely just to stick to pro MMA and boxing in the future.
“I’ve had some good experiences so far, including travelling to Thailand where I trained for a month and also had a pro Muay Thai fight which I won.”
Franco trains out of the AVT gym in Doncaster and is coached by renowned UFC welterweight star Danny Mitchell.
Franco added; “Danny has been a massive inspiration to me from day one and I really look up to him, as does everyone in our gym.
“He’s been there and done it and can open doors for me too as he has lots of contacts which have meant I’ve been able to take part in some big shows and hopefully will do in the future as well.”
Franco recently took part in a fight night in London, with interested onlookers including British MMA star Alex Reid, and recorded an impressive win over a Spanish fighter who he floored with a spinning back fist to secure a knockout victory.
Last weekend, he was in Huddersfield for a fight under K1 rules and again emerged victorious.
He says he is now keen to turn pro this year and add to his impressive amateur record.
He said: “It’s different when you’re a pro as when you’re an amateur you just want as much experience as you can get and often take on fights that have only been arranged at short notice.
“When you’re a pro you train for weeks at a time for a specific fight and that’s what I’d rather be doing.
“I’m always training and always ready and will fight anyone. The fight in Huddersfield last weekend was only arranged four days beforehand and I’ve even only had half an hour’s notice for a fight and still won!
“I’ve spoken to my coach about it and we definitely think it can happen this year.
“I’ll still continue with my regular job as the money isn’t in MMA like it is in boxing but it is certainly my goal to train full-time one day.
“Then long-term I’d love to get into the UFC and I believe that can happen.”
Franco was previously set to turn pro two years ago but was then diagnosed with the inflammatory bowel disease Colitis which set his plans back.
He added: “That was a real disappointment but I’m now on a new treatment which has revitalised me and made a massive difference, so I’m confident I can again pursue the plans to go pro.”
If any individuals or local businesses which to sponsor Ricardo Franco in his quest to become pro, or once his pro career commences, you can contact him on 07511 750398.