Phil Lo Greco was unbeaten through 25 fights and seemed like he was on his way to a possible title shot, but one loss nearly ended his boxing career.
Future 147-pound champion Shawn Porter handed Lo Greco that first defeat, knocking the Toronto native down in the 10th and final round of a near-shutout unanimous decision in Atlantic City in May 2013.
Losing to such a talented opponent shouldn’t have been a devastating setback for Lo Greco, but he says his opportunities all but dried up afterward. Instead, the four-time Canadian amateur national champion spent much of the next year working as a personal trainer as he pondered his future.
“After I lost to Shawn Porter, all of a sudden the promoter wasn’t making any good offers,” Lo Greco said. “I had a two-cent manager-promoter who kept me inactive, so I basically quit boxing.
“It was the worst move ever. They had it all wrong how to manage and promote a fighter, and literally made you starve. It was very discouraging, but I can’t just blame them without blaming myself for taking myself to them.”
After a switch in management, Phil Lo Greco (27-2, 15 KOs) returned to the ring last year with a rejuvenated passion for boxing. He will take the next step in his comeback Sunday night when he matches up against talented southpaw Joseph Elegele (15-2, 11 KOs) in a 147-pound bout at the Lakeland Center in Lakeland, Florida (Bounce TV, 9 p.m. ET/PT).
“I’ve been in the gym for the past eight months, and I’m feeling great,” Lo Greco said. “I’ve always liked the challenges of boxing, but I’ve never liked it more than I like it now.”
Lo Greco resumed his fighting career in March 2015 with an eight-round unanimous decision over Rafael Cobos in Las Vegas. Even though he showed some ring rust after his long layoff, “The Italian Sensation” was re-energized in his return to action.
“I didn’t look good after almost two years not throwing a punch, but I won the fight,” Lo Greco said. “I got back in shape and my passion for boxing came back. Now I’m functioning with a different mentality, from the way I breathe to the way I eat to the way that I fight.”
After beating Cobos, Lo Greco was pressed into service on short notice last June to face unbeaten 147-pound contender Errol Spence Jr. Lo Greco accepted the fight just two days before the bout as a replacement for Roberto Garcia, and was stopped for the first time in his career in the third round.
Lo Greco, 31, had an easier time of it in his most recent bout, gaining a fifth-round stoppage of Pablo Munguia in October.
“I went through hell losing 15 pounds to make weight [to fight Spence], and you need at least seven weeks to prepare for a southpaw like Spence. But at the same time, I wanted to work on my mental game,” said Lo Greco, who is entering his second fight under trainer James Long.
“I felt like I won the first round, but after that, I was gassed and had nothing left. Not everyone is a five-star fighter like a Floyd Mayweather or Oscar De La Hoya, but I wanted to prove to myself mentally that I could fight under any circumstance. And now I’m ready to fight whoever, whenever, wherever.”
For a complete overview of Lo Greco vs Elegele, visit our fight page.