Unbeaten junior welterweight prospect Kurt Scoby is putting to rest F. Scott Fitzgerald’s notion that there are no second acts in American life, but while most of those rare second acts take place because the first one went south, Scoby has no doubt that he could have competed on the NFL gridiron had he stuck with football.

“I know I could have made it in the league, and I know I can make it in the league now, as well, confidently.”

Scoby exudes confidence and, if you look at the numbers he posted in high school and college, his belief is well-founded. And though he admits that he misses football, saying, “It’s a sport that’s made me who I am now,” once boxing came into the picture, he changed his focus completely, leading to a 13-0 pro record with 11 knockouts that he will bring into his Friday fight against Dakota Linger in Atlanta’s Overtime Elite Arena.

At this point, the money isn’t where it would be if he made an NFL roster, and when it comes to safety, that’s an ongoing debate, so boxing must have something to make up for those Friday night lights, the roar of the crowd on Saturday afternoons, and being the talk of the campus. It does, but it’s not what you would expect.

“The training,” said Scoby. “Getting ready for a fight always gives me that. Always.”

He can’t be serious. Gleason’s Gym is cool, and it’s in Brooklyn, which makes it even cooler, but training?

“I’m so serious,” he said. “If you see the way I train, it’s what makes me happy and brings joy to me because you’re nothing unless you train, and I train like I’m out of this world. So that’s what makes me feel like I’m scoring touchdowns every day. The moment I step inside the gym, I’m going to get a touchdown and we give the ball back to the referee and we come back like we’ve been there before.”

It’s a rare attitude in a “look at me” world, but the 28-year-old is just built different.

“Honestly, I’m a homebody and I hate the spotlight,” Scoby said. “I hate the spotlight unless I have to go and do what I have to do. On April 19th, that’s the only spotlight I want to be in, and that’s just the spotlight to feed my family.”

And on Friday, there’s no one but Scoby in there with Linger, the real reason why he left football for boxing. Not for the glory, but to be the man in the arena. 

“I stayed the course, and I understood what I really wanted in life,” he said. “You’ve got to know football is an 11-man sport and I knew what I put in day in and day out. I knew 10 other people couldn’t match that. So that's the reason why I chose boxing because I know what I’m capable of and I know I will show up when it’s time to show up.”

Four years ago, he showed up in New York City, ready to chase his boxing dreams. It wasn’t just a change in sport, but a change in scenery, as he left his home in Southern California, as well. And as crazy as NYC has gotten in recent years, it doesn’t match the crazy he left.

“I’m never going to leave,” he said of the Big Apple. “I went to LA recently and I’m like, yeah, nah, I’m never leaving here. I had to bet it all on myself. And there’s a lot of things that were happening back home where friends were dying and people were going to jail and they’re very close to me. There’s plenty of times that could have happened to me. But like I said, you have to go away from home in order to be who you really want to be in life. And that's what I’m doing now.”

It sounds easy, and maybe to Scoby it was, because when asked how family and friends reacted to him moving to the east coast, he simply says, “I don’t really listen. I don’t have time to listen to anybody else’s reaction. I have a family, I have a son and a daughter and a fiancée, and that’s the only reaction I need to really hear.”

And as far as his ring future beyond this Friday, don’t ask.

“Dakota Linger, April 19th, Overtime Arena,” he deadpans. 

That’s it?

“That’s the only fight I have and that’s the only fight I’m looking forward to.”

Another rare approach from Mr. Scoby, whose maturity is refreshing. As for its origin, he says, “It comes from trials and tribulations. I had to grow up a lot faster than anybody that I’ve known in life, and I’ve been through a lot. A lot of people would’ve folded and I survived.”

Now he thrives.