Friday, September 22, 2023  |


Rising prospect Kurt Scoby isn’t allowing success to breed complacency

Kurt Scoby walks away after dropping John Mannu. Photo by Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME
Fighters Network

As soon as Kurt Scoby was done with his last fight in February, he began preparing for his next one.

While Scoby’s team dined to celebrate him winning his television debut – an explosive second round stoppage of the previously unbeaten John Mannu to open a ShoBox card in Topeka, Kansas – Scoby was downstairs in the hotel’s exercise room putting in his miles on the treadmill. When trainer Don Saxby came in to investigate further, he observed that Scoby was heading into his fourth mile. He says it’s something he’s come to expect whenever Scoby scores an early stoppage.

“He said, ‘I felt like I didn’t do anything so I gotta work out,’” says Saxby, who trains Scoby at Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn alongside Leon “The Cat” Taylor.

Why wasn’t he out celebrating what was to that point the highlight of his professional career? Because the job is never done, he says.

“People ask why I did that and that’s because I will never be complacent,” said the junior welterweight prospect Scoby (11-0, 9 knockouts).

“There’s no celebrating here because I believe if you celebrate, you find a sense of complacency. You cannot get comfortable in this sport of boxing.”

That’s the mindset that the 27-year-old is bringing into his next fight, an eight-round bout against former title challenger Henry Lundy on June 29 at Sony Hall in New York City. The bout will headline a five-bout card which is promoted by Boxing Insider Promotions.

At age 39, Lundy (31-13-1, 14 KOs) is considered past his prime, having lost his last five bouts dating back two years. Still, Scoby isn’t letting his guard down, knowing that Lundy has the experience of having been in the ring with top fighters like Terence Crawford, Viktor Postol and Jose Zepeda.

“Every man that steps inside that ring is dangerous,” said Scoby, a former football prospect from Duarte, Calif. who played three seasons as a running back for Azusa Pacific University.

“Not everyone believes in themselves the way that I do. I believe in myself because I put the work in. I put the countless hours in so nobody can tell me that I’m not something that I will be. I will show up the day that I have to and I will perform.”

Scoby puts down John Mannu. Photo by Stephanie Trapp/SHOWTIME

It isn’t hard for Scoby to get into the mindset to train. He has a boxing gym inside his home near Scranton, Pa., where he works out on the weekends before relocating to New York City during the week to do his training at Gleason’s Gym. He mixes his traditional boxing workouts with his conditioning work alongside Viacheslav Papka, a Ukrainian fitness guru who employs a biomechanics-based training system known as GOATA to help Scoby maintain his speed and explosiveness.

Scoby finds relaxation in rural activities fishing, and says the isolation helps bring out the beast in him.

“I’m always in the woods and I always try to seclude myself because I feel like once you’re by yourself and you’re in the woods, by the time you get to fight time you want to bite someone’s face off,” said Scoby.

The Lundy fight could lead to bigger opportunities as he nears the ascent to the ten round level and an eventual step towards title contention, but Scoby declines to look ahead to the future, opting to focus solely on the present. Still, he has an idea of where he stands among the top fighters in the sport, having spent time in training camp with champions like Devin Haney, Regis Prograis and Jaime Munguia.

Daniel Gonzalez, who co-manages the promotional free agent Scoby alongside Brandon Stump, hints that Scoby could be in for an eventful rest of the year if he can score an impressive win over a respected veteran like Lundy.

“It’s a step-up. Kurt needs to prove that he can be in with a cagey veteran who has been around. If he does what I expect him to do, he’s going to impress everyone and climb the ladder another rung to get to where he’s gotta go,” said Gonzalez.

If things go the way Saxby expects them to, Scoby will be on the nearest treadmill in a matter of minutes.

“I expect Hank [Lundy] to use some of his old school tricks. But we’re on to that. I got a secret weapon, Leon ‘The Cat’ Taylor,” said Saxby, alluding to the co-trainer who came up with the game plan for this fight.

“Honestly, I see Scooby getting rid of him third round max, if not the first.”

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].