LUKE Jackson admitted money was a major motivation in his decision to turn professional.
After a decade in the amateur ranks, including multiple state, national and Oceania lightweight titles, a Commonwealth Games bronze medal and an appearance at the London Olympics, Glenorchy's 28-year-old national team captain has signed with Mike Altamura and Cameron Dunkin to be trained by Sydney's Billy Hussein and promoted by Melbourne's Adam Wilcock.
``I said I'd never turn pro but I've also learnt you never say never,'' Jackson said.
``I had the opportunity given to me by Mike Altamura, who is a big promoter in Las Vegas and manages a lot of the big guys, to train under Billy Hussein who is one of the best trainers in the world. They offered me a three-year contract and I go to Sydney to train with them and have my first fight on May 3.''
Jackson, who is undefeated in Australia since 2005 and has had 112 amateur fights, welcomed the challenge.
``It was a difficult decision but I'm 28 and still feel fresh. I've been boxing since I was 18 and want to test myself with a new challenge. I'm sure I can make a dent on the pro scene in Australia.
``I've achieved everything I ever wanted in the amateur ranks. I've done everything possible aside from winning a medal at the Olympics but there was no incentive to stay amateur. There's no money available.
``They wonder why boys turn pro but I would not mind getting paid to do this. Is that so bad?
``It's not great money, but it's better than what I have been getting.''
Jackson will contest the 59-kilogram super featherweight division with his sights firmly set on Australian No. 1 Dylan Sendeckyj.
``I've beaten him twice in the amateurs so don't think it will be a problem. My only problem is getting used to doing 10 rounds.
``The training is more intense-based, which has always suited me because I tend to come good in the later rounds. It's going to be a learning curve.''
Jackson's amateur victims included reigning WBA world featherweight champion Nicholas Walters, No. 3-ranked WBA lightweight Sharif Bogere and Australians Joel Brunker and Paul Fleming, both unbeaten in the professional ranks.
Altamura has been talking up Jackson's pro prospects on boxing websites.
``We've structured a good team around him and I think he has the tools to contend for a world championship within a few years,'' Altamura said.