HOLYOKE, Mass. (WWLP) – A local boxer is looking forward to his fourth pro fight on April 14 in New Hampshire.

Denzel Whitley has a 3-0 record and two of his wins were first-round knockouts. Boxing has become more than just a sport for the Holyoke native, not only does working towards his next fight give him purpose, but it also helps mentally.

“I’ve got some anger issues, its a form of stress relief,” Whitley told 22News.

But believe it or not, his love for boxing wasn’t always there.

“I didn’t always like it to be honest, I use to get mad a lot because I use to think I knew everything,” Whitley said. “I would never be serious about it.”

As an amateur fighter, Whitley lost his first few fights. He built off of that disappointment and got better and stronger, working out at his family’s gym as often as he could. His dad has always been in his corner, figuratively and literally, because he’s also his coach.

“I said, you got all the potential, you got all the talent, just let your hands go and believe in yourself,” Denzel’s dad, Derrick Whitley said. “You’ve got to crawl before your walk, you’ve got to walk before you run, so you’ve got to take steps.”

Derrick knows his son is ready for that next step and that next fight. Denzel says when he’s in the ring, it all comes naturally.

“When I’m in there, it just, everything flows, it does, nothing feels wrong,” he told 22News.

When he isn’t boxing, Denzel works at a residential program for kids. He said the kids love following along with his career and he’s happy he can be a positive role model for them.