COLUMBUS - Jake Giuriceo didn't even take a break from training during his honeymoon.
After his wedding on May 20, the Youngstown boxer took his new bride to Jamaica. But this wasn't your average vacation. Giuriceo, anticipating that a big fight was on the horizon, said he still had to get a few workouts in during his time in the Caribbean.
"Things have been going great for me," he said. "I love being married, and I'm still training and working hard. I even got some work in on my honeymoon. I brought my Bandit Body DVD down there. It's great for cardio and strength training. I knew we'd get a fight, so I wanted to make sure I stayed in shape."
Giuriceo was right. Soon after returning home, "The Bull" was offered a shot at a state title.
Giuriceo (16-0-1, 3 KOs) will face off against former world title challenger Michael Clark (42-7-1, 18 KOs) for the vacant USA Ohio State light welterweight title on Saturday at Promo West Pavlilion in Columbus.
"This is a huge step up for me," Giuriceo said. "This is what I've been preparing for. I'm ready."
After a few weeks back at work - he is employed at PHD Manufacturing in Columbiana - Giuriceo resumed full-time training with Keith Burnside, his longtime trainer.
Coming off an impressive win in April against Juan Santiago (13-9-1, 8 KOs) at Mountaineer, Giuriceo has his sights set on winning a title and beating an opponent with a resume much longer than his own.
Clark has more knockouts on his record than Giuriceo has fights. Known as "Cold Blood," Clark is a 5-foot-8 fighter with a 73-inch reach who has been in the ring with some of the sport's best.
In 2008, Clark fought Verquan Kimbrough (21-4-3, 7 KOs) to a draw at Mountaineer. He has also been matched up against such notable names as Mike Alvarado (33-0, 23 KOs) and the current IBF light middleweight champion Cornelius Bundrage (32-4, 19 KOs).
The combined record of the seven opponents Clark has lost to is an impressive 244-23 with 154 knockouts.
"He's a great fighter," Giuriceo said of Clark. "He has an awesome record. You don't win 43 fights without being really good."
The undefeated Giuriceo has been gradually stepping up his level of competition. In his first 10 bouts, "The Bull" was in against light competition facing fighters with a combined record of 36-66-8, with 16 knockouts. But his last seven opponents, including Clark, have a combined mark of 110-69-14 with 61 knockouts.
"I haven't seen a whole lot on Clark," Giuriceo said. "The most recent video I saw was from four years ago. He's definitely a dangerous fighter and a big step up for me."
Clark, who will be fighting in his hometown of Columbus, isn't exactly a spring chicken, however. He turned 39 on July 10 and is coming off a split decision loss to Bahodir Mamadjonov (11-0, 7 KOs) in March. After turning pro at age 20, and starting his career 24-0, Clark has been 18-7-1 since 1991.
"I know he's 39 years old, but I'm not overlooking him at all," Giuriceo said. "Just look at what Bernard Hopkins is doing. The guy I'm fighting has a lot of experience and has a lot of knowledge of what to do in the ring."
Giuriceo said he has been sparring with another 39-year-old in former Youngstown boxer Kenny Sigurani. Known as "The Cobra," Sigurani compiled a 22-3 record during his five-year professional career that included fights against the likes of Julio Cesar Chavez and Hector Camacho.
"He's been working with me and tells me that he thinks I'm ready," Giuriceo said.
According to Giuriceo, the focus of this camp has been punching power. With just three knockouts to his credit, "The Bull" is hoping to land some bigger bombs against Clark.
"I want to try and sit down on my punches a little more," Giuriceo said. "I've watched some video and can see that I'm coming off my feet sometimes when I throw my punches. I've been working on staying on the ground and getting a little more power behind my shots."
Giuriceo is hoping that he will be able to land a promotional contract soon and believes this could be the fight to take him to the next level.
"It just depends on who's watching," he said. "Any win can open up more opportunities for you."