Scott Abella watches Keon Ivery (right) and Tyler Jacques face off before Abella’s first show in April.
Scott Abella understands the meaning of hard work.
The New Jersey-based boxing promoter runs a body shop called Team Paramus Collision, runs the business side of his second pro show on July 29 in America’s second largest mall, and still finds time to coach her kids’ soccer, basketball, and baseball teams.
Abella didn’t have to look far for inspiration in her work ethic. His parents, both immigrant nurses from the Philippines, worked 12-hour shifts Monday through Friday in New York hospitals, 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 worked 12 hour days because that’s what I was used to,” said Abella, president of Abella Boxing Promotions.
That roster served Abella long before his show this month at the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, NJ Abella says promoting a boxing event is a full-time job, as he books flights for opponents who arrive from across the country, arrange for them to update their medicals and negotiate scholarships with managers.
Abella promoted her first show last April, with local favorite Nicky Vitone edging out Llewelyn McClamy in the main event in a 600-capacity ballroom. The July 19 show will take place at the mall’s ice rink, which seats 3,000 people.
The main event will feature junior welterweight contender Julian Rodriguez (21-1, 14 KOs) against Jeremy McLaurin (11-10-1, 6 KOs) in an eight round bout. Rodriguez, who is making his return to the ring in New Jersey after three years of fighting elsewhere, lives just a five-minute drive from the Hasbrouck Heights venue.
“[Promoting boxing] is not my main business, but if the cards fall where they fall, I would definitely continue to pursue it,” Abella said.
“I saw myself doing something bigger. Would I fit in a big venue like 5 to 10 thousand [capacity]? Yeah, I would if it was very successful.
The main event will feature junior welterweight contender Julian Rodriguez (21-1, 14 KOs) against Jeremy McLaurin (11-10-1, 6 KOs) in an eight round bout. Rodriguez, who is making his return to the ring in New Jersey after three years of fighting elsewhere, lives just a five-minute drive from the Hasbrouck Heights site.
Rodriguez is looking to rebuild after suffering his first loss, an eighth-round stoppage loss to Jose Pedraza, in June.
Abella, who was born in Hoboken, NJ and raised in Paramus, had been interested in martial arts since she was four years old. His father, originally from Cebu City in the Philippines, had trained in the Filipino martial art of Eskrima, then became an instructor at a martial arts school in Hackensack, NJ There he introduced his son to the art Tang Soo’s Korean Martial Arts. Do, which is similar to karate. Abella became a five-time national Tang Soo Do champion, then learned boxing at the Hackensack Police Athletic League, where he first saw six-year-old Julian Rodriguez train in the gym.
Abella trained with veteran trainers Mike Rodriguez and Rob Park, and battled with pros like Archak TerMeliksetian, but her entrepreneurial side won out. He had started a car wash business at 19 and couldn’t focus on boxing enough to get into the NJ Golden Gloves.
Years later, Park educated him on the ins and outs of boxing promotion, giving Abella a new way to stay involved in the sport he loves. It also counts Diana Rodriguez, one of the few Latinas involved in promoting boxing in America, as a matchmaker.
“I have a passion for it and I can get involved now promoting it because I don’t have time to practice,” Abella admitted.
Abella says he liked what he saw of Rodriguez, 26, watching him train two to three times a day at the True Warriors Boxing Club in Paterson with his father Alex Devia.
“The way he trains now, he does his strength training, he does speed and agility training, he does everything a top athlete should be doing,” Abella said.
Abella says he was also impressed with Harley Burke (6-0, 6 KOs), a native of Galway, Ireland who now calls the Irish enclave of Sunnyside, Queens home in New York. He will face Brandon Maddox (8-5-1, 6 KO) in a 6 round fight.
“I don’t think I’ve seen heavier hands on a 168-pounder. He has power, and you shake his hand, you feel like you’re shaking a hammer. He’s going to be something to watch,” Abella said.
The rest of the card includes Jersey City-based junior middleweight prospect Robert Terry (6-0), who was recently at fight camp 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, NY, one of New York’s top amateur prospects in recent 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, as well as Keon Ivery (1-1) of Lodi and the first Saleh Ali from Bergen North.
The eleven-fight card will be broadcast live on BXNG TV and will feature a commentary team that includes former professional boxer Richard Pierson.
Abella may not get much sleep by the night of the fight, but he thinks it will be worth it once the bell rings.
“When I’m looking around at a packed show and everyone’s having a good time, nobody gets seriously injured, fighters break their asses, it’s like ‘Wow! Me and my team put this together It’s very rewarding,” Abella said.
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]