PHILLY BOXING HISTORY  -  September 19, 2014


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 Story by John DiSanto
Photos by Darryl Cobb


For the second fight in row, Joey Dawejko roared out of his corner to score a quick, first round knockout, offering further proof that the Philly heavyweight has turned a new leaf in his career and appears set to finally reach his potential as a professional fighter.  The abbreviated bout was the scheduled 8-round main event at Harrah's Chester. 

His victim on Friday night was a massive Californian named Yohan Banks, who came into the fight with a 51-pound weight advantage and a 5-inch edge in height.  Despite these physical advantages, the 288-pound, six-foot-three-inch Banks, only fared well during the pre-fight stare down photo op, when he towered over Dawejko and made more than a few wonder if he was just too large for Joey to handle.  On fight night, the answer to that question was a resounding "NO".   

Dawejko came out for the opening round looking to immediately test Banks. He hurled an overhand right that found its mark.  He kept pressing the action.  Joey then went directly to the body, checking to see how much of Banks' 288-pound girth was muscle.  The body punch backed Banks up and Joey pressed on to further earn his newly coined nickname of "The Tank". 

Moments later, Dawejko clubbed Banks with a pair of left hooks that dropped him to the canvas.  He managed to get up, but was still in a daze when referee Benji Esteves waved Joey back in.  Dawejko landed another left hook that deposited Banks on the floor again. 

By this time the crowd was in a frenzy, chanting "Joey, Joey, Joey".  Banks made it to his feet once more, but Dawejko was right on him when the action resumed.  A powerful combination punctuated by a hard right, put Banks down again and ended the fight. 

Benji Esteves signaled the stoppage at 1:34 of round one. 

This second consecutive KO paired with his upset decision victory of Derric Rossy in January, has once again made Dawejko a fighter to watch.  He came out of the amateurs highly touted, but the first chapter of his professional career was rather sluggish.  However in 2014, Dawejko has seriously stepped up his game. 

A number of factors appear to be working for Dawejko.  He spent time in training camp earlier this year with both Wladimir Klitschko and Tyson Fury.  He also has a whole new team around him.  New trainer Billy Briscoe, new manager Mark Cipparone, and new promoter J Russell Peltz are all helping him grow, especially Briscoe, but the biggest improvement is Dawejko himself. 

Joey has worked hard this year to turn his course  around, and has been carrying a winning attitude that hasn't really been evident since his days as a world-class amateur.  Now all eyes are on him, and a real breakthrough fight feels to be rapidly approaching. 

The victory in Chester improved Dawejko's record to 12-3-2, 5 KOs.  Banks fell to 7-9-3, 5 KOs. 

In the top preliminary bout, lightweight Anthony Burgin repeated a 6-round points victory over Ramon Ellis.  The pair first met in South Philly this past May, when Burgin also won by decision.  The rematch was a good scrap, even better than the first, but Burgin built an early lead and had plenty of breathing room when Ellis began to surge in the second half of the fight. 

Still Ellis only won one round on my card - the sixth and best round of the fight.  However, he made the bout a war with his hard-nosed flurries of action that once again gave the gifted Burgin a real test.  On paper, both of these bouts looked like mismatches.  But in the ring it was a different story.  Both Philadelphians traded punches and fought hard.  Burgin just had too much talent to allow Ellis much of a chance.  It was an excellent fight however. 

All three judges awarded the fight to Burgin.  Bernard Bruni saw it a 60-54 shutout.  Larry Hazzard Jr. gave Ellis one round, and scored it 59-55.  Alan Rubenstein saw it the closest at 58-56.  With the win, Burgin remained undefeated, 8-0, 1 KO.  Ellis slid to 4-13-2, 2 KOs. 

David Gonzales (above left) jumped out to an early lead against Malik Jackson, but tired in the second half.  The fade allowed Jackson back into the fight and he made the most of it.  The two welterweights traded freely in rounds four through six, and by the final bell, their bout had evened up on the official cards. 

All three judges saw the fight a 57-57 draw.  I gave Jackson only rounds four and six, which gave Gonzales a 58-56 edge on my card overall, but the fight went into the books as a tie.  Gonzales left 5-0-1, 1 KO, and Jackson, 1-3-4, added another draw to his collection.   

In a scheduled 4-round junior middleweight fight, Nathaniel Rivas bested trial horse David Navarro after two rounds.  Navarro knocked his opponent down in round one and dished out a severe beating in round two.  Navarro stayed on his feet until the end, but the bout was stopped in the corner after the second round ended.  Referee Shawn Clark called the fight a TKO at 3:00 of round two. 

In perhaps the grittiest war of the night, Anthony Abbruzzese nearly stopped Jesus Barbosa in round one of a junior middleweight contest.  Abbruzzese appeared on the brink of getting his KO, but on two separate occasions he stopped punching right in the middle of the attack, apparently thinking that Barbosa was heading to the floor.  These untimely pauses, drove Abbruzzese's corner man, Greg Hackett, crazy and he screamed for his fighter to close the show. 

However, Barbosa somehow survived the crushing left hook that dropped him and the heavy artillery that followed to stick around long enough to turn the fight into an exciting brawl. 

In round two, Barbosa battled back and both boxers traded heavy blows.  Suddenly Barbosa was in the fight and doing quite well.  He did enough to win the second round.  However, after being warned for punching low and then going too far downstairs a second time, Barbosa was penalized one point by referee Benji Esteves.  The deduction made the round 9-9 on my card, but it was an action-packed, thrilling three minutes of warfare. 

In round three, Abbruzzese found his groove again, and after catching Barbosa with a hard shot along the ropes, did not let him escape this time.  Abbruzzese kept throwing punches and referee Esteves stepped in to stop it.  Barbosa stayed on his feet, but the end was justified.  The time was 2:11 of round three. 

Abbruzzese remained undefeated, 3-0, 2 KOs.  Barbosa fell below .500, at 4-5-1, 2 KOs. 

In the opening fight of the night, junior middleweight Johnson Jajoute won for the second time as a pro with a unanimous 4-round decision over Adrian Wilson.  Wilson rallied in the third, but Jajoute was the clear winner over the course of the fight.  Judges Bernard Bruni and Larry Hazzard Jr. scored it a 40-36 sweep for Jajoute, while Alan Rubenstein had it a round closer, 39-37.  

Jajoute improved to 2-0; Wilson extended his winless streak to 0-2. 

The card started two hours late because no ambulance or emergency medical crew was present at the scheduled 7:00 PM start time.  The large crowd grew restless while announcer Nino Del Buono tried keeping them entertained.  However nothing worked to settle the crowd until the first bell rang and gave the fans what they had come to see.  The show started just before 9:00 PM. 

The promotional confab of Joey Eye, XFE, Peltz Boxing & BAM Boxing returns to Harrah's Chester on November 14. 




John DiSanto - Chester, PA - September 19, 2014
Photos by Darryl Cobb