Highly sought middleweight Diego Pacheco turning pro

Middleweight Diego Pacheco -- a 17-year-old, eight-time, amateur national champion from Los Angeles and much-sought-after prospect -- is turning pro.

Pacheco has signed with Split-T Management under the guidance of Tim VanNewhouse and is expected to announce soon which promoter he has signed with; Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn is the favorite to land him.

"This is a dream come true for me. It still feels so unreal," said Pacheco, who fought in the amateur ranks with dual membership on the U.S. and Mexican national teams. "Since I was a boy, my father and I always knew I would make a good pro someday. People believe I have a better style suited to the pro ranks, and I am looking forward to what's to come.

"A lot of people had expectations for me to represent Mexico in the 2020 Olympics. Considering all of my possibilities and the many offers I received, my coach [Rudy Garcia] and family all decided this is what is best for my future."

VanNewhouse -- who works with several fighters, including junior welterweight Ryan Martin, who is participating in the World Boxing Super Series -- was pleased to get one of his top recruits.

"There's a ton of responsibility and work ahead when you sign a young amateur like this to the pros," VanNewhouse said. "However, I take pride in that process, and I will work closely on all of his development. Diego will be afforded all the right fights, platforms and opportunities to grow into the fighter Split-T Management projects he will become."

The 6-foot-4 Pacheco, who had 75-plus amateur fights, began boxing at age 10. In 2016, he won tournaments such as the National Silver Gloves and USA Nationals. He won his weight class at the 2017 National Junior Golden Gloves and the Police Athletic League Nationals, and in 2018 was a champion at the USA Junior Olympic Nationals. He was the top-rated amateur middleweight in the U.S. and Mexico last year.

He also has had some international experience, including a fifth-place finish at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary.

"I'm extremely excited about [signing him]," VanNewhouse said. "He's absolutely charming, and this boy can fight. He's an exciting and accomplished amateur that will make a flawless transition into the pros.

"He shows power in both hands and has really good fundamentals. He has a long, fast jab that compliments his huge frame at 6-4. His body work and well-set-up uppercuts will make him become a near-complete fighter. I don't think any amateur-boxing video will justify just how big this kid is, and he's still growing. He has a lot to learn yet, but everything you'd want in a young prospect, he has."