Jordan Zlacki wasn’t much into competitive sports growing up in Springdale or in high school in Florida.
But when he returned to the area at age 20, the Springdale resident was introduced to boxing.
“There’s no place like home,” Zlacki said.
Almost a decade later and with 23 amateur fights under his belt, Zlacki, 29, is ready to take that next step and turn professional.
He makes his pro debut Aug. 18 in a 165-pound fight against J.T. “The Samurai” Brackett at the Grand Hall At The Priory on Pittsburgh’s North Shore.
“It was an exciting feeling at first when I made the decision (to turn pro),” said Zlacki, who trains at James 5:16 gym in Tarentum. “Now, as it gets closer, it’s just another fight. I can’t overthink it. I just want to go out there, do my thing and execute what I know.”
Zlacki, who works as a supervisor for the installation of swimming pools, was 11-12 as an amateur.
“There were a lot of fights I lost I thought I should’ve won,” Zlacki said. “But they all helped prepare me to turn pro.”
Zlacki, who has fought predominately in the 152-pound range, is fighting heavier for his pro debut. Brackett is coming down in weight for the fight.
“He’s been wanting to fight me for a couple of years,” Zlacki said. “The promoter gave me the offer, and I’m going to take the chance.”
Brackett is 0-1 as a pro. He was knocked out in his debut and is looking to bounce back.
“From the drills I’ve put Jordan through, he’s coming along pretty well,” said Chris Archer, Zlacki’s conditioning, speed and agility coach at James 5:16. “I’m sure he wants to knock out (Brackett) in the second or third round and not leave it up to the judges. It’s always a better feeling to get that knockout win.
“But Brackett will be a good challenge. He’s heavier, and he also had a good amateur background. He’s a southpaw. When the bell rings, we’ll see how comfortable they are with each other.”
Zlacki, who moved to St. Petersburg, Fla., with his family after middle school to take care of his grandparents, grew up a fan of boxing.
When he stepped into James 5:16 for the first time after his return to the area, he said he saw a future in the sport.
“It stuck with me. I got in the ring and hung in there with some really good fighters,” he said. “I thought I could do pretty well for my size.”
Zlacki’s workout Monday included time in the ring with trainer James Kobert, also the owner of James 5:16 gym. Kobert said Zlacki is ready to compete.
“He has good power, and his speed is getting better,” Kobert said. “We have him going left and right with lateral motions. Now that he is a pro, he will be boxing without headgear and with lighter gloves and better wraps. He’s going in with a pretty good attitude. We feel he should do pretty well.”
The tentative card for Aug. 18 features a half dozen fights. The main event is eight rounds for the vacant American Boxing Federation USA cruiserweight title between Lyubomyr “The Demolition Man” Pinchuk (5-1, 4 KO) and Lamont “Too Smooth” Capers (9-12-1, 1 KO).
Pinchuk is a Ukraine native.
“It should be action-packed,” Zlacki said. “There are some big punchers on this card.”
Doors open at 6 p.m., and first bell is at 7. Online tickets can be purchased at integrityproboxing.ticketleap.com/professional-boxing--the-priory/.
Tickets are $30 and $50, as well as $100 for ringside. Tickets also can be purchased by calling Zlacki directly at 724-594-5671.
For more information on the Aug. 18 card, call 412-728-3409.