Michael Costantino went through a long and arduous qualification process simply to step into the ring against Nathan Ortiz this weekend, and he made sure to validate his pre-fight hard work with a stellar performance.
Costantino, who was born without a right hand, took down Ortiz in two rounds Saturday in Brooklyn. The 33-year-old cruiserweight is believed to be the first one-armed man to fight professionally in New York.
"I just wanted to show people that in life, if you ever feel like you’re not good enough or you feel down that anything is possible,” Costantino told the New York Daily News after the fight. "I wanted to show people that if you work hard and believe in yourself that you can achieve what you set out to do."
Costantino uses his right arm, which only extends to his wrist, mostly for defensive purposes. No matter, as his left hand proved too much for Ortiz.
The New York State Athletic Commission made Costantino jump through several hoops before fighting Ortiz. In addition to a pair of pre-match physicals, the Commission asked Constantino to wrap his hands Friday before the weigh-in to see how he covered his right limb.
In fact, boxing writer Mitch Abramson of the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com wrote that for Costantino, getting approved to fight professionally may have been harder than the fight itself.
"I felt good out there," Costantino said. "If this is how these fights are going to be, why wouldn't I want to continue my career?"