Spotlight on Hilltop Fighter JR Abellon

10.20.11 Foghorn 6

Height: 5’8’’ Weight: 148

TALENT: He is a self-proclaimed “slick fighter who’s willing to go toe-to-toe.” Abellon’s an amateur fighter who is fighting from his heart, and not from a chip on his shoulder. But his style is that of one of his favorite boxers and friends, Nonito Donaire. He likes to use footwork and punch at angles, but he also likes to deal hard body shots that he imitates from Miguel Cotto. One world contender that he sparred with at his gym in San Leandro has critically acclaimed his technique and punching combination.

“Jr. is an amateur that moves like a pro,” says USF Boxing Coach Angelo Merino. “[He moves] flawlessly, but is a heavy hitter, and moves slick in and out of the ring. He is so refined that he is in a class of his own.”

Abellon mixes his boxing technique with some knowledge of Muay Thai kickboxing that he’s gained from his cousin AJ. The little shots at close range from Muay Thai make a difference when you are in the middle of doing the tango. Abellon doesn’t save anything for the end because “you don’t know if you’ll make it back.” But his rubber band attitude, “losing defeats people, losing inspires winners,” keeps Abellon off the ropes.

Grade: A+

ACHIEVEMENT: Abellon started boxing 4 years ago, when he injured his knee during basketball conditioning. The first boxing gym he attended was old school, hardcore, and not very welcoming or conducive to a learning experience. He changed gyms, worked hard with renowned trainers, sparred with world contenders and professionals, and now is the captain for USF’s intercollegiate boxing team. Additionally, Abellon earned an NCBA national birth and boasts a two time repeat egional finalist. Abellon believes he could go back to his first gym and now compete with any of the boxers that once intimidated him.

When he is not boxing for USF, Abellon studies Exercise and Sport Science with a business minor. He is part of an organization called Kasahaman, which puts on fun events for kids that have parents who are busy at work. Seeing kids increased self-confidence as a result of Kasahaman Abellon believes it’s great that the proceeds of the Hilltop Cup go to the aide of the Filipino community and help well-deserving low-income Latin American students who attend USF.

Grade: A+

MARKETABILITY: To be in order with NCAA rules about sponsorships and student-athlete eligibility (those of which are going to be re-negotiated under Proposal 26 according to Sports Business Daily), student-athletes and their image, as of right now, cannot be used to advertise while they are active. “But under Proposal 26, sponsors would be able to use game footage, audio and photos of current athletes,” according to Michael Smith in his Sports Business Daily article titled, “Sponsor debate divides NCAA.” According to Smith, Proposal 26 would make sponsorship use OK as long as the sponsor identified as a corporate partner with the university, while the university maintained all veto power of anything they didn’t approve of.

To Abellon, “marketability is the capability to appeal to the masses in a positive way.” If he could fight for anybody or anything, Abellon said he’d like to fight for Stanford University, because boxing, long ago, used to be only an NCAA sport, or USA.

Grade: A+

SUPPORT SYSTEM: Abellon’s support system has been top notch throughout his entire life. He was fortunate to be born into a family with a father and mother, Alferdo and Paulita, who attended all of his matches and sporting events. Paulita has accepted Abellon’s passion for boxing, but still occasionally screams during a fight. Abellon’s light-hearted older sister, Krystal, also keeps Abellon in check and looks out for him like older sisters do. Abellon’s cousin, AJ, gives him advice and expertise, along with just the occasional outside perspective to keep Abellon grounded.

In Abellon’s corner in the ring are his two trainers that serve as an extra pair of eyes and provide moral support. Abellon’s support system also consists of USF Boxing Coach Angelo Merino, Kennel Boxing Coach Arvin Jugarap, and the rest of the Kennel Boxing Staff.

Grade: A+

GROWTH POTENTIAL: Abellon is inspired by who he calls the Michael Jordan of boxing, Manny Pacquiao. In the ring, he seeks to improve on his jab and his speed. He wants to box professionally but only wants to fight a couple fights, just to experience it.

Considering that he is a student and school must come first, boxing coach Angelo Merino believes Abellon could improve at his time input at the gym. “If I could keep them 24/7, I would,” Merino says.

Abellon really wants to finish school and attend graduate school here at USF’s Sports Management program. After graduate school he hopes to use his major and minor to open his own physical therapy clinic so that he can stay involved in athletics while helping people.

Grade: A+

JR Abellon, who will turn 21 in mid-December, will be matched up with his “nemesis”, San Jose State’s Luc Mai. Abellon and Mai have had a number of chances at facing off. But things have always changed course before the two could have a bout.

According to Merino, Mai will be looking for “redemption” in Friday night’s bout and beating Abellon would make up for Mai’s losses to USF boxers in the past.


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