Promoter Scott Abella has learned the ropes of the boxing business
Scott Abella understands the meaning of hard work.
The New Jersey-based boxing promoter runs an auto body shop called Team Paramus Collision, is handling the business end of his second pro show on July 29 at America’s second largest mall, and still finds time to coach his kids’ football, basketball and baseball teams.
Abella didn’t have to look far for inspiration on his work ethic. His parents, both nurses who emigrated from the Philippines, worked 12-hour shifts from Monday through Friday at hospitals in New York City, leaving his grandparents to pick him up from school.
“A 40-hour work week, I didn’t even know what that was. When I was in my upper teens I was working 12 hour days because that’s what I was used to,” said Abella, President of Abella Boxing Promotions.
That training has served Abella well ahead of his show this month at the American Dream mall in East Rutherford, N.J. Abella says that promoting a boxing event is a full-time job, as he books flights for opponents being flown in from around the country, arranges for them to get their medicals up to date and negotiates purses with managers.
Abella promoted his first show last April, with local favorite Nicky Vitone outpointing Llewelyn McClamy in the main event at a 600-capacity ballroom. The show on July 19 will be at the mall’s ice skating rink, which holds a capacity of 3,000.
The main event will feature junior welterweight contender Julian Rodriguez (21-1, 14 knockouts) against Jeremy McLaurin (11-10-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-round bout. Rodriguez, who is making his in-ring return to New Jersey after three years of fighting elsewhere, lives just a five minute drive from the venue in Hasbrouck Heights.
“[Promoting boxing] is not my main business but if the cards fall where they fall, I would definitely keep on pursuing it,” said Abella.
“I could see myself doing something bigger. Would I go to a big venue like 5 to 10 thousand [capacity]? Yeah I would if this is very successful.”
The main event will feature junior welterweight contender Julian Rodriguez (21-1, 14 knockouts) against Jeremy McLaurin (11-10-1, 6 KOs) in an eight-round bout. Rodriguez, who is making his in-ring return to New Jersey after three years fight elsewhere, lives just a five minute drive from the venue in Hasbrouck Heights.
Rodriguez is looking to rebuild after suffering his first defeat, an eighth round stoppage loss to Jose Pedraza, in June.
Abella, who was born in Hoboken, N.J. and raised in Paramus, had been around martial arts since he was age four. His father, a native of Cebu City in the Philippines, had trained in the Filipino martial art of Eskrima, and later became an instructor at a martial arts school in Hackensack, N.J. There, he introduced his son to the Korean martial art of Tang Soo Do, which is similar to karate. Abella became a 5-time Tang Soo Do national champion, and then picked up boxing at the Hackensack Police Athletic League, where he first saw a six-year-old Julian Rodriguez training in the gym.
Abella trained with experienced coaches Mike Rodriguez and Rob Park, and sparred with pros like Archak TerMeliksetian, but his entrepreneurial side won out. He had started a car washing business at age 19, and couldn’t focus on boxing enough to enter the N.J. Golden Gloves.
Years later, Park schooled him on the ins and outs of boxing promotion, giving Abella a new way to stay involved with the sport that he loves. He also counts Diana Rodriguez, one of the few Latinas involved in boxing promotion in America, as his matchmaker.
“I have a passion for it and how I can get involved now is through promoting because I have no time to train,” admitted Abella.
Abella says he’s liked what he has seen from the 26-year-old Rodriguez, watching him train two to three times daily at True Warriors Boxing Club in Paterson with his father Alex Devia.
“The way he’s training now, he’s doing his strength training, he’s doing speed and agility training, he’s doing everything that a high performance athlete should do,” said Abella.
Abella says he’s also been impressed with Harley Burke (6-0, 6 knockouts), a native of Galway, Ireland who now makes his home in the Irish enclave of Sunnyside, Queens in New York City. He will face Brandon Maddox (8-5-1, 6 KOs) in a 6-round bout.
“I don’t think I’ve seen heavier hands on a 168-pounder. He’s got power, and you shake his hand, you feel you’re shaking a sledgehammer. He’s gonna be something to watch,” said Abella.
The rest of the card includes Jersey City-based junior middleweight prospect Robert Terry (6-0), who recently was in camp sparring with rising star Jaron Ennis in Philadelphia. He will face Isiah Seldon, the son of former heavyweight titleholder Bruce Seldon, in a six-round bout. Junior lightweight Raymond Cuadrado (3-0, 1 KO) of Ridgewood, N.Y., one of New York’s top amateur prospects of the past few years, will also be in action in a four-round bout against Andrew Bentley (5-5, 1 KO).
Other New Jersey prospects in action include Jenna Gaglioti (3-0, 2 KOs) and Michael Lee (8-2, 6 KOs), both of Jersey City, plus Keon Ivery (1-1) of Lodi and the debuting Saleh Ali of North Bergen.
The eleven-bout card will be streamed live on BXNG TV and will feature a commentary team that includes former pro boxer Richard Pierson.
Abella might not get much sleep from now until fight night, but he believes it’ll all be worth it once the bell rings.
“When I’m looking around at a packed show and everyone is just having a good time, no one is getting seriously injured, the fighters are busting their asses, it’s like ‘Wow! Me and my team put that together.’ It’s very rewarding,” said Abella.
Ryan Songalia has written for ESPN, the New York Daily News, Rappler and The Guardian, and is part of the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism Class of 2020. He can be reached at [email protected]
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