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THE INSIDER

By Mike D’Abate

Smithfield Strong: Anthony Marsella Jr. Continues to Embody his Warrior Spirit

Author Jake Remington has long had an affection for the following quote: “Fate whispers to the warrior, ‘You can not withstand the storm.’ The warrior whispers back, ‘I am the storm.”

While the origin of this inspirational excerpt is unknown, Remington uses it in conjunction with the spirit of perseverance. No matter the obstacle, the ‘warrior’ refuses to surrender. His goal is victory, and his pursuit of it remains relentless. For Smithfield’s Anthony Marsella Jr., that ‘warrior’ spirit continues to drive him toward excellence.

On June 29, 2019, Marsella secured a victory via technical knockout (TKO) over super lightweight Jose Aubel at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. From the opening bell, the 24 year-old Rhode Island native maintained a razor-sharp focus. Collecting a knockdown in the first round, Marsella remained the aggressor throughout the brief, but action-packed bout. Just one minute and sixteen seconds into round three, referee Danny Schiavone stepped in to call the fight in his favor. With the win, Marsella improved to 13-0, with seven knockouts. He remains undefeated in his professional career.

Though he is no stranger to in-ring success, Marsella is also no stranger to adversity. As many an athlete has come to learn, success and adversity often walk hand-in-hand. In November of 2018, he captured the International Boxing Association (IBA) Americas title by defeating challenger Jorge Rodriguez in the main event of CES Boxing’s Holiday Bash at the Twin River Event Center. Marsella scored the stoppage victory in impressive fashion, when Rodriguez was unable to answer the bell for the fourth round. For the man aptly-nicknamed “A1,” the sky was the limit.

However, triumph would not be achieved without its share of tribulation. Shortly after his victory, Marsella revealed that he had fought with a torn labrum in his left shoulder. Despite suffering the injury while training for his fight with Rodriguez, Marsella would not be denied his opportunity to obtain championship gold. While he would go on to win the belt, the injury would keep him away from in-ring action until Spring 2019.

Never one to succumb to a difficult situation, Marsella continued to recuperate and train for his return to the squared circle. Following his meticulous regimen of diet and workout, he was victorious in his comeback bout versus Engleberto Valenzuela on the “Riot at the Rim” card in Hampton, New Hampshire on April 12. This would set the stage for a defense of his undefeated record in just over one month.

Scheduled as part of the May 17 “Broadway Boxing” card (sponsored by DiBella Entertainment) Marsella was set to return to Foxwoods Resort Casino for the first time since his April 2016 professional debut. With many of his previous fights having taken place in Rhode Island, he was eager to compete on a new stage. Under the tutelage of his trainer Victor Fagnant, he was well-prepared to “wow” the Mashantucket, Connecticut crowd. Unfortunately, the gloves of fate were to temporarily remain unlaced.

Within hours of his bout, Marsella received word that his opponent was medically ineligible to compete, due to a neurological malady. Although efforts were made to procure another opponent for him, Marsella was forced to remain on the sidelines for the event. Disappointed, but not despondent, he maintained his positivity. Marsella not only attended the event, but addressed the live crowd, and even offered some color commentary during the evening’s slate of action. Rather than complain or grandstand, he wisely used his platform to showcase the spirit that has earned him legions of supporters. Still, the best was yet to come.

When fellow Rhode Islander Demetrius Andrade announced that he would be returning home to fight in Providence, it was rumored that Marsella might join the prolific WBO Middleweight Champion on the card at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center. He would soon confirm that speculation. ‘Smithfield’s Champ’ was set to compete in front of his hometown crowd on Saturday, June 29.

Once again, Marsella was well-trained and primed to display his talent under the bright lights of ‘The Dunk,’ as it is commonly known to the Ocean State faithful. However, fate still had one slight surprise in store for him. Originally scheduled to take place between 7:00pm and 9:00pm, Marsella’s bout with Aubel was flexed to the end of the card. Despite the wait, Marsella continued to remain calm and limber. Following the night’s Main Event between Andrade and challenger Maciej Sulecki, Marcella entered the ring single-minded in purpose. He neither complained, nor catered to his frustration. Instead, he used that energy to earn yet another impressive victory. It is certain that he will carry that momentum with him into his next bout, which is expected within the coming months.

Throughout his young but impressive career, Anthony Marsella Jr. has achieved great success. To the casual observer, this great young man seemingly ‘has it all.’ However, Marsella’s path to success has not been paved in ease. Despite the struggles, he remains steadfast in pursuing that success at the highest level. For all of his triumphs, he has withstood just as much adversity. Yet, Marsella is never one to make excuses. When asked about his continuing journey to the top of his profession, he said: “I’ve never had it easy, I just don’t publicize my struggles in hopes of sympathy or help. Instead, I deal with it, and handle it. I try to be my own hero.” It is this ‘warrior spirit’ that keeps Anthony Marsella. Jr. focused on his goals. Rather than simply weathering the storm, he has become the storm. The expedition continues, while the ‘warrior’ remains ‘Smithfield Strong.’