The first time Edmonton super middleweight Jorge Ravanal Jr. laced up a boxing glove, he was too nervous to throw a punch.
"That's all I did; tried it on. In my mind, I pretended I was Oscar De La Hoya ... but then I couldn't bring myself to do anything except stare. No way I was gonna try punching anything."
Fast-forward 15 years and Ravanal, now 28, exudes the same sense of wonder when he talks about making his pro debut tomorrow night on KO Boxing's Armed & Dangerous card at the Shaw Conference Centre.
Ravanal is taking on local trialhorse Justin Berger (3-3) in the curtain-raiser on the five-bout card -- but it might as well be the main event.
"Yeah, I got a late start, but this is the fulfillment of a dream I've had since I was a little kid," he said.
"I got the boxing bug from my grandfather, who was a fighter. I grew up listening to stories and watching fights on TV ... I was a huge De La Hoya fan. Then one day I wandered into the Avenue Boxing Club. Right away, (trainer) Milan Lubovac and (club manager) Roland Labbe made me feel welcome, and before long I got some amateur bouts."
Four, to be exact. And he won them all -- including the Alberta Bronze Gloves. Ravanal also won a pair of MMA bouts earlier this year, but he prefers the ring.
"I like the stand-up challenge of boxing," he said. "For me, the singular focus makes it more of a thinking sport; MMA is more spontaneous."
Win or lose tomorrow, he'll have a memory to cherish.
"I didn't want to wake up one day when I'm 40 and wonder how I would have done in boxing. This is my dream, and nothing can take that away."