Joey Dawejko engages in all-Philly heavyweight battle
Not everyone was happy to hear that Joey Dawejko and Bryant Jennings would be hooking up this Saturday night, from the Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University, in an inner-city rivalry of two Philadelphia-born heavyweights.
Dawejko explained, “So the story with that is everybody has an opinion. Bryant Jennings never gave me money to make sure that me or my kids were OK. He never paid my electric bill. That’s just how this business is.”
As this bout was coming together and eventually announced, there were discussions on Facebook from those who felt it was actually wrong for these two to bump on ESPN.
“This is how I make a living but everyone has an opinion on that, especially guys from Philly,” said Dawejko, who was more than a bit perplexed by the negative reaction from those in his hometown. “Even people that aren’t basically involved in professional boxing. They always have an opinion about that.”
No group sounds as assured in its own ignorance as today’s “fanagers.” But just what was their big gripe about this match-up?
“That we should fight for a title instead of (the fight scheduled) now and it’s not a big enough fight to fight each other right now,” he recalled. “It should be for a title and for a lot of money but my thing is I’m not going to get there unless I beat Bryant Jennings.”
So when did this Philly-sophy begin to foster with the local fans? Veteran promoter J Russell Peltz, who is working this event locally, in conjunction with Top Rank, told UCNLive.com, “Probably this century, the new wave of managers, trainers and fighters in Philly who don’t understand what made Philly a great fight town.”
And this made Peltz chuckle, “One of them wrote, ‘The only reason why Peltz likes to do this is that it saves him on hotel rooms.’ I mean, I gotta listen to this stuff. It’s pathetic; it’s just pathetic.”
Yeah, Bennie Briscoe is probably rolling over in his grave.
As for how easy this match-up was to consummate, Peltz stated, “Joey’s people were on the verge of taking a fight and they didn’t even think about it. (Top Rank matchmaker) Brad Goodman brought Jennings to the table and I didn’t think it was a problem. I think Joey was more up for it than Bryant was because I think Bryant’s attitude is, ‘What do I have to gain?’ And I understand that but when we were putting the show together, they said, ‘We want to use Bryant Jennings.’
“I mean, who are you going to put him in against? Derric Rossy or another retread like that?”
While this ESPN broadcast features a world title fight as the main event, Peltz isn’t inaccurate in saying, “This fight is the straw that stirs the drink. This fight make the show, with all due respect to (super middleweight) Jesse Hart and (WBO junior featherweight titlist) Jessie Magdaleno and the title fight – this fight sells the show.”
According to him, this is the biggest “Philly phight” since Jeff Chandler faced Johnny Carter in 1982, at the Civic Center, as Chandler successfully defended his WBA bantamweight title successfully by halting Carter in six rounds on NBC. Dawejko-Jennings, according to BoxRec.com is for the coveted USA Pennsylvania State heavyweight title.
When asked to recall their amateur bout, Dawejko recalls, “I knew I was turning pro. I just got done winning the Junior World Championships. I already had my contract set up. I knew I was turning pro, so I figured just one more amateur fight. We fought in the Golden Gloves and I had a big crowd there. I knew I was going to sell a lot of tickets – I just basically did it for that reason. It was an easy fight. It was the last fight of my amateur career, so I knew I was turning pro already. That’s what happened.”
Not surprisingly Jennings has a different perspective on what happened that night, Regardless Dawejko says that they have maintained a solid, professional relationship through the years. “Ever since that fight in the amateurs, it’s always been respect. Every time I’ve seen him, I always shake his hand; he always shook my mine,” he says.
“We always talked for a little bit before he fought Mike Perez. We sparred a couple of rounds but it’s always been a respectful relationship and this is just business. We can go back to being friends after but, that night, it’s all business.”
Peltz – who always maintains a healthy pessimism – says of this week’s card, “I think we can do over 4,000 paid.” He says right now, the Sixers are the hot story locally and there are the Penn Relays on Saturday with which to contend.
Expect a healthy turnout for Dawejko.
“I don’t know about (Jennings’) fan-base. I’m sure he has a lot of people but, man, I’m going to pack that house. It”s going to be a great, great venue and I’m going to have a lot of people there.”
Recently the city of Philadelphia has had a noticeable uptick in the number of boxing cards. When asked if there is a bit of a renaissance taking place, Peltz stated, ”At that level but we’re still talking about converted warehouses and small casino shows, while other sports are building multimillion-dollar stadiums. But yeah, it’s busier than it’s been and I wouldn’t be surprised if we had about 20 kids walking around with like 8-0, 10-0 records but they’re not fighting anybody.
“Until they start fighting each other, we’re not going to know who can REALLY fight.”
Listed at 5-foot-10 by BoxRec – which seems generous – Dawejko is unusually short and stocky for a 21st century heavyweight. Yeah, if he had a dollar for every time he was asked if he could drop to cruiserweight, he’d have enough money to retire.
“Yes, I would,” he concurred, while laughing, “but you know what? The cruiserweight division is big right now. I love the cruiserweight division but, like I said, there’s more money in the heavyweight division and that’s just how it is and (Jennings’) size advantage means nothing to me because I’ve been fighting guys bigger than me my whole life.”
But could he make 200 pounds?
“Yeah, for the right fight, I could do it.”
In what is being described as a businessman special,” $65 tickets can be purchased for $45 bucks on Wednesday (only) between 1-4 p.m. ET. You can get this deal by logging onto Sports and Cultural Events in Downtown Philadelphia /The Liacouras Center and using the promo code: BOXING.
This deal is provided by Philadelphia attorney Neil R. Greb.
Not sure if he is the one who got Meek Mill freed.
This week on “The 3 Knockdown Rule,” Tom Loeffler of GGG/360 Promotions joins Mario Lopez and me in-studio.
This ESPN broadcast on Saturday begins nice and early at 7 p.m., ET/4 p.m. PT…The Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada, will play host to the match-up featuring WBC 175-pound world titlist Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack, which will be televised by Showtime on May 19…That same day, from the MGM National Harbor near Washington D.C., Showtime will also broadcast the bout between WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. and Joseph Diaz Jr…Premier Boxing Champions has announced that Keith Thurman has vacated his WBC welterweight belt…Russell Westbrook is a great stat padder but wouldn’t less be more in his case?…Showtime’s “Billions” has been top-notch this season but I don’t know if my eyes can take what I saw on Sunday with Taylor…Sorry but I gave up on HBO’s “Westworld”…With Devin Hester officially retired from the NFL, the question is, will he one day get a gold jacket in Canton?…I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet (a lot) at twitter.com/steveucnlive. I also share photos of stuff at instagram.com/steveucnlive and can also be found at tsu.co/steveucnlive.