By Ben Sutherland: Anthony ‘A1’ Marsella fell into the sport by chance, “boxing was never part of the plan” says the 22 year old Rhode Islander. It began as a desire to be able to defend himself. He went to the gym a couple of times but wasn’t really interested. After going to a local show he was inspired to try again and agreed to enter a local tournament, “I said yes for no other reason than I have too big an ego” says Marsella who has had a competitive streak from the outset.
It was an inauspicious start. With no real training and no fitness, a young Marsella lost his first bout. A loss was all it took for the ultra-competitive genes to kick in and he started taking the sport seriously. It was the start of a quick rise to prominence: he won all the local tournaments, winning regionals and picking up several medals at nationals, although he never won a title which he says haunts him to this day.
Quickly becoming one of New England’s brightest young stars, Marsella is as fearless as he is competitive. It was this fearlessness that led him to spend every last dollar he had to go and train with the best in the world, 3000 miles away in Las Vegas. Marsella cites Floyd Mayweather as one of his idols in the sport. Mayweather vs. Hatton was the first fight he ever watched and he has followed him ever since. Mayweather was at the forefront of his mind when he touched down in Vegas and he headed straight to his gym.
He soon bonded with one of Floyd’s security, Greg LaRosa over their Italian heritage and slipped into the Mayweather camp. Chatter in the gym about his impressive performances in training made its way back to Floyd and LaRosa introduced him to Mayweather. Marsella says “he’s helped me out a bit in and out of the gym”. He now lives and trains in Vegas and proudly represents the money team, “they’re like family, so of course I’m going to represent my team” he says.
It is against this backdrop that Marsella began his professional career. The relative newcomer to the sport moved quickly to 5-0 with two knockouts. He has frequently returned home to fight, back to where it all began in his home state of Rhode Island. Most recently, he fought on a stacked card at the Twin River events center, put on by his promoter, Jimmy Burchfield.
In what proved to be his toughest test to date as a professional, he took on Texan Abraham Torres in front of his home crowd. He experienced his first adversity as a pro when a big shot from Torres knocked him off balance and he found himself on the canvas. He says “that one put me down because of my foot positioning”, pointing out he wasn’t on the floor for much more than second. He maintained his composure and rallied to win by unanimous decision.
Marsella looks to go from strength to strength as he moves through the professional boxing ranks. As fearless and competitive as he is, he is also well grounded and hasn’t let his early successes get ahead of him. He states his immediate goal is simply to improve his craft, “I have a lot to learn” he adds. When asked about his motivations, he says he just wants to make enough money to provide for his family, especially his father who has raised him on his own since the death of his mother when he was young. “I don’t want to see him kill himself anymore. I’m going to bust my ass till he’s laid up on a beach being fed grapes” he says jokingly.
Make no mistake though, he has ambition. “After all the work I’ve put in and sacrifices I’ve made, I’m going to get something out of this game” he says. He wants to win a world title, plain and simple. A proud Italian, Marsella says he wants to add his name to what is a short list of high profile fighters from Italy. He’s marketable, he speaks well, he trains with the best in the world and he can certainly fight. He’s not sure what’s next, but make a mental note of the name Anthony Marsella Jr, you’re going to be hearing it a lot.