The city of Brotherly Love is
synonymous with boxing and has had a long and colorful history of
fighting dating back to the late 19th century.
It is home to some of the great boxers of our time who have defined
the Philly fighter. Men like Tommy Loughran, Joe Frazier, and
Bernard Hopkins are classic examples of fighters who possessed a
high boxing IQ, skilled on the finer points of counter punching,
inside fighting and old school tactics. It is from Philly’s long and
storied tradition of fighters that Joseph Thomas Dawejko’s love of
boxing was born. Encouraged by his grandfather, young Joey fell in
love with the sport at The Blue Horizon, when he was just
Dawejko took to the gym like a natural and loved everything about
it, the training, physical work, the running, and sparring. Despite
losing his first amateur fight, Dawejko’s grandfather helped guide
him to a 56-12 amateur record and 14 amateur championships. He
became the youngest ever to win the Eastern Olympic Trials at 16 and
won a gold medal at the 2008 World Youth Championship in Mexico. In
2009, Dawejko turned pro and working with two-time world heavyweight
champion Hasim Rahman, he won his first bout by unanimous
six-round decision. The Tank remained unbeaten through his first 8
fights, losing for the first time to New York heavyweight
Dorsett Barnwell in a six-round bout in Atlantic City.
From then on, he suffered only three more defeats out of 18 fights
before finally claiming a WBC regional title. This happened in
December of 2017, in a match against the previously undefeated
Puerto Rican heavyweight, Kelvin Nunez. Dawejko took an eight-round
unanimous decision and claimed the vacant WBC FECARBOX heavyweight
championship in the process.
The Tank’s most storied and talked about fight, however, has to be
against fellow Philly native Bryant Jennings. In what came to be
called the Battle of The Philly Heavyweights, Jennings earned a
unanimous decision over Dawejko at the iconic Liacouras Center in
Philadelphia. It was the kind of match that was always key for
Philly fans: a showdown between two of their own, the classic
This year, Dawejko made more headlines when rumors circulated that
he knocked out former unified world heavyweight champion Anthony
Joshua, while they were sparring in Miami. Dawejko was one of the
fighters recruited to help Joshua prepare for his bout against
Anthony Ruiz, during the latter’s training camp in Miami.
What made the rumor so newsworthy is that it came right before
Joshua’s stunning defeat to Ruiz that lost him his heavyweight
titles. The 29-year-old Olympic gold medalist lost via TKO in the
seventh round in New York. Dawejko, however, refused to confirm or
deny that he knocked out Joshua and that it led to his defeat at the
hands of Ruiz. For his part, Joshua also denied the rumors and
merely said he lost to the better fighter.
Whatever the case may have been, and conspiracy theories aside,
Dawejko’s current 20-7-4 record is a fact. As a powerful boxer, he
is very poised for his age. He can throw punches from any angle and
he is powerful with either hand. When he hits, his opponents really
feel it. One of his advantages is that he’s short and stocky – so
many big heavyweights feel awkward fighting him.
With a dream that started with his grandfather and a unique style
and work ethic that’s second to none, Dawejko embodies the spirit of
the Philly fighter.
Article exclusively written for PhillyBoxingHistory.com by Bertrice