By Jesse Kelley
Heavyweight Joey Abell (20-4, 19 KO’s) will be back in action this Saturday at the National Guard Armory in Saint Paul, MN. The last 14 months have been a roller coaster year for Abell to say the least. Things started on a high note for Abell as he took a short notice fight on Showtime in late November of 2007. At the end of the night, Abell picked up a career best win, earning a majority decision over Teke Oruh (14-0-1). Abell rattled off two more wins (Ratko Draskovic 28-7-2 and Maurice Wheeler 10-11-1) before things took a turn for the worse. The 27-year-old Coon Rapids, MN native lost his next three bouts as he was shocked by Andrew Greeley (14-25-2), lost a split decision to Al Cole (34-14-3), and most recently lost by disqualification to Jason Nicholson (17-26-2)a month ago in South Dakota. Now Abell will look to rebound against Derek Amos (15-26) this Saturday.
Abell shared his thoughts on both the highs and lows he has faced and why 2009 will be a “make it or break it” year for himself.
2008 was a crazy year for you. Technically the Teke Oruh fight was in November of 2007 but it is your biggest win as a pro. You boxed and won a 10 round decision on National TV. Talk about that fight for us.
The Oruh fight was a big fight for me for many reasons. The exposure, the experience, etc. My nerves were the same as usual because I told myself I was going to win the fight any way that was necessary. I have heard some complaints the I could have knocked him out a few times and I didn’t capitalize, but I was playing it smart because of the two weeks (one week of working out, one week of travel) to prepare. I knew my athletic ability could get me through 10 rounds and I didn’t want to get tired and sloppy.
You fought Andrew Greeley on April 26th in Rochester, MN. Greeley is a skilled boxer with a bad record. Kind of a no win opponent. You dominated early on and it looked like an easy night for you. I noticed the crowd screaming for you to take him out. You really went after him and got caught with a big shot. Talk about what happened in the fight, the crowd…
I did let the crowd get in my head. It was such an uneventful fight that I started thinking of pleasing the crowd before just winning the fight. There are going to be some exiting fights and some that are boring. That should have been a boring one but I took a chance and got caught. It was my third fight within a month and there were a lot of things that went wrong before and during the fight. It’s the only fight regardless of the loss that I never should have taken.
You were able to make it to your feet after being dropped in that fight. As you reeled back to the ropes he stormed after you and threw a bunch of punches. I believe the stoppage came with 2 seconds left in the fourth round. It was a little reminiscent of the stoppage in Philadelphia (Aaron Lyons) where you were still on your feet. Were you badly hurt and do you agree with the stoppage?
I personally don’t think it should have been stopped as soon as it was. Granted I was getting hit. A boxer is a boxer, it’s part of the job to get through moments like that and I was ready for it. Even though I don’t hold it against them, I think some refs are a little protective. The only good part of that though is no one will get hurt.
What can you take from a loss like that?
Don’t rush into anything in the ring, let the action happen and don’t rush it.
You faced Al Cole in Sweden next in September. You lost a split decision. Reports suggest you were ahead until a clash of heads cut you up pretty bad. Recap that fight for us.
It was a great crowd pleasing fight, especially for the Swedish crowd that has never seen anything like it before. Cole was a great guy for me to fight but the opposite of what I was prepared for. The majority of my sparring was with a guy 5’10 that didn’t move around much. Al Cole was 6’5 and moved more then I do. With the Swedish judges never seeing blood, maybe they might have thought I lost just because of all the blood. I got a cut above my eye from a head butt, and one on my nose from 2 punches that landed after the last bell. I didn’t look to good after the fight. I thought I won but it was a great fight and a great experience
How about the short round thing (six, two minute rounds). Did that have any effect on you or your game plan? You have had that experience before but ended those fights so fast it really wasn’t a problem…
It might have effected me a little. I didn’t have the time in each round to do the things I might have done. Other then that, it was really not a problem for me, but maybe a benefit for Cole. He was done after the last round. If they were 3 minute rounds I really don’t think he could have hung with me. Not to take anything away from him though, he’s a great fighter .
You trained in isolation with former champ Michael Moorer for that fight. Can you talk about what you learned from working with him?
He was a great coach, he’s been through it all and reached the top. I learned some things that helped me out mentally as well as physically. The only negative about that 3 month training camp is that I was in Florida away from home where it’s hot and muggy and I was isolated in my room for most of the day. I don’t know how much it effected me but I don’t think it helped.
Your luck didn’t change last month in South Dakota. You were dominating Jason Nicholson from the opening bell. I don’t believe he landed a punch. You put Nicholson down in the first and hit him again as he was on all fours. You ended up being disqualified…
I felt great going into the fight, regardless of the opponent. To tell you the truth I was hoping to get one of the former losses back because I was mentally and physically ready for anyone. When the fight started my plan was to be smart but at the same time take all hope out of him ASAP. I know his record shows that he goes the distance and I didn’t want anything happening to me like what happened in Rochester. So I was throwing a stiff jab and getting ready to land a meaningful left, which I did. At the end of the fight I threw a 4 punch combo, knocking him out with the third, not really knowing it. I couldn’t stop the combo. It was like when I was in college and even high school football. When I would sack all the quarterbacks that I did. I was very seldom pump faked. At a certain point there is no turning back, the man’s going to be hit. It was an unintentional and very unfortunate incident that I’m going to have to work even harder to overcome.
Rumors are that you are back training at the ACR gym in Coon Rapids. If this is true, talk about how that is going.
I have been at ACR now for a while. It works out great for me because of the people there. I have a lifting partner that’s always there and Lyke is a great coach.
Like I said, it has been a roller coaster year for you. What can we expect for 2009?
It’s going to be a make or break year for me. I know I won’t be able to go for any world titles this year but my goal is to make my name known. I am going to give it my all.