Philadelphia heavyweight Joey Dawejko doesn’t exactly look like what most people would expect a boxer to look like, even in the heavyweight division, where physiques can often be flabby. To be sure, he looks like a tough guy. But he looks like the sort of tough guy you might see checking IDs outside of a college bar. At 5’10” and around 235 pounds, he doesn’t look like the kind of athlete you would expect to see knocking people out on Showtime.
But he did just that last Friday night on a Shobox card, stopping Natu Visinia just 1:15 into Round 1. The victory improved his record to 16-4-2, with 9 KOs.
I don’t think anybody realistically viewed Visinia as a future champion. But he came into the fight with a record of 11-1 and the only loss had been against former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham, a world-class fighter with far more experience than Visinia. Visinia lasted seven rounds in that bout and even managed to drop the former champion.
Dawejko was the “opponent” for this matchup, a stepping stone for Visinia to bigger things. Instead, Dawejko rocked Visinia with a big hook early and never let up.
Dawejko was also impressive in defeat last May, when he gave the once-beaten knockout machine Amir Mansour all he could handle for 10 rounds. Mansour is one of the more impressive physical specimens in the heavyweight division, but the portly Dawejko has no trouble matching his gas tank.
Dawejko is the sort of fighter whose body type belies his true athleticism. In terms of which old-time fighter he most closely resembles physically, I’m reminded of Tony “Two-Tons” Galento, a colorful contender from the 1930s and early 1940s who was listed at just 5’9″ and checked in at around 230 pounds.
But the similarity is more cosmetic than substantive. Galento was a wild brawler who looked to turn every fight into a slugfest. Dawejko is a well-studied fighter who uses a lot of different looks, depending upon what his opponent does. He grew up in the tough gyms of Philadelphia, where he was a self-described “short, fat white kid.” That kind of background is the boxing equivilent of attending Harvard or Yale.
There’s no way I would predict Dawejko as a future champion. But expect other would-be contender to think twice about trying to step over him on their own way up the rankings.