Kurt Scoby’s confidence in his boxing skills led the former college football star to take an $11 flight from Los Angeles to New York in search of a new coach and gym during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
In retrospect, Scoby recognizes the ridiculous risks he took, especially since boxers weren’t even allowed to train indoors due to government restrictions at the time.
“It was crazy to do what I did,” Scoby recalled, “buy an $11 plane ticket and walk out in New York with nothing but my two fists. I literally had nothing else.
On Friday night, Scoby has the opportunity to prove he’s a legitimate junior welterweight prospect. The Duarte, California native is 10-0, including eight knockouts, but mostly against opponents with poor records since he made his pro debut in September 2020.
27-year-old Scoby’s fight against Australian John Mannu (7-0-1, 4 KOs) is not only a quantum leap for the former running back. It will also give Scoby the increased exposure he has received because Showtime will air their eight-rounder as the opener for a “ShoBox: The New Generation” telecast from the Stormont Vail Event Center in Topeka, Kansas (9 p.m. ET).
“My style is not to get paid for overtime,” said Scoby, who trains at the famed Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn. “But my coach tells me not to go there looking for the knockout. He says let’s go in there and beat up the other guy. So, we’ll see how long it will last.
Mannu, a 26-year-old southpaw, upset undefeated Adrian Sosa (12-1, 9 KOs) by majority decision in his last fight, a six-rounder on the Devin Haney-George Kambosos Jr. undercard on Oct. 16 at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
“I know my opponent is basically your typical southpaw,” Scoby said. “He’s undefeated, so he doesn’t know how to lose yet. He’ll soon find out how.”
Scoby, whose mother died in his sophomore year of high school, bounced between 14 foster homes as a child. He played soccer in several high schools before getting a scholarship to Fresno State University.
He transferred to Division II Asuza Pacific University after a freshman season where he was red-clad and rushed for 2,703 yards and 16 touchdowns from 2015-17. Scoby’s playing weight was 215 pounds, 75 heavier than he officially weighed Thursday for this fight (139.8 pounds).
Scoby admits he used soccer to get an education. He always knew, however, that after participating in around 150 amateur bouts he would eventually return to boxing.
“I wasn’t in love with football,” Scoby said. “Now, I’m doing what I truly love.”
After the Scoby-Mannu match, Showtime will televise two 10-round players.
Misael Lopez (14-1, 5 KOs, 1 NC), a Mexican-born featherweight from Denver, and Edward Vazquez (13-1, 3 KOs, 1 NC), from Fort Worth, Texas, will meet in the co-feature . Ardreal Holmes (12-0, 5 KOs), a southpaw from Flint, Michigan, is scheduled to fight Ismael Villarreal (12-0, 8 KOs), of the Bronx, New York, in the 154lbs main event.
Keith Idec is a Senior Writer/Columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.