Criminals in Red Oak better clean up their act together. The Red Oak Police Department may soon be adding a quite a punch.
Johnny Determan, a junior at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, is studying criminal justice and hopes to begin testing to join the ROPD in the near future. When he’s not taking classes, he’s in the gym because he is also an undefeated professional boxer.
Since moving up from the amateurs in late 2010, Determan is a flawless 7-0 with six first-round knockouts at the super flyweight level, 115 pounds.
He had his first fight 14 years ago when he was 8 in Omaha, Neb., and hasn’t looked back.
“I never got into any street fights, but I’ve been in more than 125 amateur fights and won the bronze at the amateur Golden Gloves in 2008,” Determan said. “I was fighting the same people over and over again in amateurs, so I decided to start fighting for money and belts.”
His father was a boxer in his day and turned the family garage into a gym and began training people. His youngest client was his son.
“I was a gym rat. He couldn’t get me out of the gym,” Determan said. “I was in their all the time. When I turned 8, I started training to fight.”
He began to focus on boxing in high school after playing every other sport, because his size (five-foot-six-inches) didn’t intimidate a lot of basketball and football players.
“There are freshmen in high school now that are bigger than me,” Determan said. “I wanted to focus on boxing. When I started taking it serious I was able to get invited to the national team and other big tournaments.”
His experience representing the United States at the amateur World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, is one of his favorite moments of his career. He even picked up a new nickname while in the country near Turkey.
“I spent two weeks over there when I was just 16 and all the other boxers, coaches, doctors, everybody was black or Hispanic,” Determan said. “So everybody from the coaches to the 70-year-old doctor called me “White Boy” and it just stuck and will be something I always remember.”
He’s adapted the moniker a little bit and now wears “Wite Boi” on his boxing trunks. The fact that he is white may actually help his marketability, according to his trainer, Waxahachie’s JB Hurd.
“In this sport, at this level, you don’t see a lot of white guys. You sure don’t see any redheaded white guys. The sport is dominated by hispanics and blacks,” Hurd said. “When the world gets to know Johnny, what they are going to like most is his attitude. He’ll remind people a lot of the Sugar Ray (Leonards) and (Oscar) De La Hoyas because of his charisma and personality. His manager’s tag for him is “he’s white, he’s bright and he can fight.”
Timing, faith and a little luck helped Hurd and Determan get together.
“I closed down my gym last summer, but I still got calls all the time about training and I always responded with no, because I was working on the (Waxahachie Youth) Football League and I didn’t have time,” Hurd said. “The emails I usually just don’t respond to or don’t open. But his, I opened and responded and turns out he and his sister were coming to town.”
They were looking to get away from Omaha and branch out in their boxing careers. They were looking or a good school with a proximity to a boxing trainer.
“We were looking at schools in California and here. We had to be careful because we wanted to find a gym and trainer nearby a school and this just fell into place,” Determan said. “My sister really liked Texas. Boxing was why I came here and school is helping me because I want to box until I can’t, but I want to have my degree until that happens.”
His sister, Jesi, was also an accomplished boxer, but she can’t compete anymore after a car accident ended her career. She was leaving a movie theatre the night after a weigh-in for a fight in Fort Worth and was involved in an accident that gave her a minor brain injury. She’s still able to work out and train, but doctors told her she can’t fight anymore.
“It’s tough because she was like me and had been fighting her whole life and she took it hard,” Determan said. “She can’t fight, but she’s still in the gym a lot. She just started getting into the judging and officiating, so she’s still involved in it.”
So the Determans moved to Ellis County in December 2012 and it didn’t take long for Johnny and Hurd to start working together.
“They drove down, we sat down and after just one dinner, we decided to go for it,” Hurd said. “I thought it was going to be difficult since he’s had just two trainers his whole life. Our styles of training are different, but after just two weeks, we were meshed.”
That’s good because the two only had about six weeks to prepare for their first fight together.
“When we went to our first bout, I was nervous. We had only been together for about six weeks and I was meeting his parents and promoter,” Hurd said. “But just 2:59 later, we were in the ring with our hands raised.”
The two fought again earlier this year and that fight ended in less than two minutes. The duo was scheduled to go fight in Chicago earlier this week, but the fight was dropped because the opponent couldn’t make the agreed upon weight.
It’s probably better off because Determan has a great combination of speed and power that you usually don’t see at his weight class.
“He can hit. I’ve been in boxing for 20 years,” Hurd said. “I’ve had sparring partners from former world champs to Olympians and when I spar with Johnny, he’s one of two people that I can say have actually hit me hard. He can crack.”
Determan puts in long days with school, gym, preparation and a possible police exam, but he’s chasing his dream of winning a world title.
“Everybody dreams of being the next (Manny) Pacquiao or (Floyd) Mayweather. Obviously that would be huge,” Determan said. “I’m just going to do this as long as I can and not put a limit to what I think I can do. It’s a lot of work with school, homework, conditioning and working out, but it will pay off.”