Don Trella’s record — available at boxrec.com — is impressive.
Trella, 63, has judged 804 professional boxing matches since 2002. In the three years before he turned pro, he judged more than 500 amateur bouts. When Trella, a Prospect native and former Holy Cross High football player, enters the Connecticut Boxing Hall of Fame later this year as an official, he brings with him 21 years of work as a judge for more than 1,300 fights and a remarkable 65 world championship bouts.
Trella has done it all, from three-round amateur bouts in street-corner gyms to title fights in the world’s most famous arenas, like the Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez world middleweight fight in Las Vegas last September, the Golovkin-Danny Jacobs world middleweight fight last March in Madison Square Garden, to the big one between Vladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua for the IBF, IBO, and WBA world heavyweight titles in front of 90,000 fans at London’s Wembley Stadium in 2017.
Trella has already judged 50 fights in 2018. As he humorously said in a previous interview, “I never say no. I’ve got to answer the bell.”
And the bell has tolled for Trella with Connecticut’s boxing hall. On Oct. 13 at the Mohegan Sun, where he also works as director of employee and guest experience, Trella will be enshrined along with John Harris, Bill Gore, Brian Clark, all trainers, and boxers Cocoa Kid and Angel Vazquez.
Trella joins other local inductees like Naugatuck’s Joe Rossi.
Trella earned his first title shot as a judge in 2004 when New York state boxing commissioner Ron Scott Stevens “gave me my first world title fight, and it was no less than a heavyweight championship fight on HBO in Madison Square Garden between Chris Byrd and Jameel McCline.”
Byrd won the split decision. Trella had it for Byrd, 115-112.
“It took a lot of nerve for the state commissioner to have that much trust in me,” Trella said.
Trella has been covered with an avalanche of trust ever since. You don’t earn 64 more world title fights if you don’t get it right always.
“We take pride in what we do,” Trella said. “These guys work very hard to get to defend a title or fight for a title, and you’re going to have one-third of the say in how the result comes out. You owe it to them to be focused, to give them your undivided attention and to give them a fair score. There is a lot at stake for these guys.”
Trella brings an athlete’s mentality to ringside. He remembers playing football at Holy Cross, feeling the pregame butterflies, “and when you get that first hit, you’re OK. You just play the game.”
The same thing happens even outside the prize ring. Trella feels the nerves, too.
“I do, and I want to feel nervous,” he said. “You look around at the spotlights, the TV cameras, the anthem and all the celebrities in the crowd, and you realize that you are lucky to have this opportunity. It’s a little overwhelming, and you’re a little nervous. You’ve got to get it right. But when the bell rings, it’s just like any other fight I do. Every fight gets the same attention and the same focus.”
Humbled by the Hall of Fame honor, Trella quipped that this award may be “somebody trying to tell you that you’re still around, but you’re getting close to the end.”
But, he added, “Nobody gets here by themselves. You stand on a lot of shoulders when you get an honor like this, like your employer, boxing promoters and commissioners, and all the people that help you along the way.”