Saturday, December 23, 2023

December 2023 in the New Jersey, New York, and Philadelphia Boxing Scenes

A couple of club shows highlighted a month of parties during the holiday season. Sal Musumeci promoted his sixth fight card on Saturday December 12th at the Showboat Hotel in Atlantic City, NJ. 

A crowd of close to seven hundred fans watched Philadelphia, PA heavyweight Joey Dawejko, 260 lbs., destroy Jesse Bryan, Jefferson City, Missouri, in one minute and seventeen seconds of the first round. This victory was an early Christmas gift for Dawejko, who slammed left hooks to Bryan's body and landed booming rights to his foes' chin. With Bryan, 241 lbs., back against the ropes, Dawejko moved in for the kill. After absorbing a series of power blows, Bryan slumped to the canvas. Displaying gumption, Bryan beat the count and indicated to the referee Eric Dali he was willing to continue. Moments later, Dawejko swarmed all over Bryan. Within seconds, the referee Eric Dali stepped in to end it. Dating back to September 2022, Dawejko has won six straight and is now 27-10-4,13 KOs. Bryan went home to Missouri with a Christmas payday and a record of 21-8-2, 16 KOs.

In the semi-wind-up, Bryce Mills, Liverpool, NY, was fed a holiday pastry named Tackie Annan, Accra, Ghana, that he ate up in 2:47 of round one. A one-sided blowout, Mills, 141.75 lbs., punched the tar out of Annan, 149 lbs., from the opening bell. Wisely and mercifully, referee Ricardo Vera halted the contest. This was Bryce’s, 14-1, 8 KOs, eighth straight victory. Annan who has been knocked out in all of his losses is now 15-11, 14 KOs. J Russell Peltz manages and guides both the careers of Mills and Dawejko.

A week later on Saturday night, December 16th, in Times Square, New York City, Larry Goldberg's Boxing Insider Promotions once again delivered a first-rate club show. Held at Sony Hall, these nights are always first-class affairs with the spectators dressed to the nines. Mongolian featherweight, Erdenebat Tsendbaatar (aka Tsendbaatar Erdenebat), may have started his holiday partying too early. When he comes in at the featherweight limit Tsendbaatar is muscular. That evening Erdenebat weighed in at a flabby 139 lbs. Standing on the other side of the ring, Yohan Vasquez, 136 lbs., was fit and ready.

In control of the action, Tsendbaatar earned every round he won as a game Vasquez, Bronx NY via Dominican Republic, fought back and never relented in his effort towards victory. In the eighth and final round, the Mongolian slugger caught up to his foe and with thirty-one seconds left in the stanza. Referee Jamil Antoine wisely ended the night. A big-ticket seller, Erdenebat, is 8-0, 4 KOs. Vasquez drops to 25-5, 20 KOs.

Also, I went to hall of fame cutman Joey Eye’s “Eyetalian” Christmas Party at Jimmy’s Time Out Sports Bar in Northeast Philadelphia, PA. The Philadelphia Pugilistic Association was presented at the celebration.

Friday, December 8, 2023

Champions Sports and Entertainment Presents Battle at the Boat Live from the Showboat Atlantic City

Press Release

Philadelphia heavyweight and fan favorite Joey “The Tank” Dawejko (26-10-4, 14KO) returns to the ring to defend his WBC USA heavyweight title in an 8-round battle vs. Jesse Bryan (21-7-2) of Jefferson City, Missouri. Dawejko-Bryan headlines a terrific night of LIVE BOXING that features NINE FIGHTS. Dawejko has been busy in 2023, posting a 3-0 record, which includes two exciting victories over Colby Madison (the first fight will most likely be the 2023 Philadelphia Fight of the Year). Dawejko continues to stay active as he fights towards once again becoming a top contender for the heavyweight crown. Jesse Bryan looks to upset Dawejko’s plans of future glory, while a victory for Bryan would present new opportunities to grow his career.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

WWE Survivor Series: War Games 2023 Recap

By Steve Ward

WWE’s Thanksgiving weekend tradition, Survivor Series, emanated this evening from Chicago’s Allstate Arena for its 37th installment. This year they would again incorporate the War Games component, adapted from WCW’s annual Fall Brawl events, in place of the traditional Survivor Series bouts. The event featured five matches with two titles contested and would be headlined by two War Games matches.

Women’s War Games Match

Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Shotzi, & Bianca Belair vs. Damage Ctrl

(Asuka, Bayley, Iyo Sky, Kairi Sane

Winners: Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Shotzi, & Bianca Belair

The War Games match, for those unfamiliar with the concept, takes place within two adjacent rings with a colossal cage encasing them. The match begins with one competitor from each team in the ring with a new participant entering the fray in three-minute intervals alternating between teams. A winner can only be determined by pinfall or submission after ALL competitors have entered the match.

The women’s War Games began with Becky Lynch and Bayley going toe to toe. The subsequent order of entry was Shotzi, Iyo Sky, Bianca Belair, Kairi Sane, Charlotte Flair, and Asuka. Once Asuka entered the imposing War Games structure, the match officially began meaning the first pinfall or submission would crown a winner. The closing moments saw Bayley singled out as Becky Lynch climbed to the middle turnbuckle with a table set up in front of her. Bayley then was hoisted up on the middle turnbuckle by The Man’s teammates where Becky Lynch delivered a Manhandle Slam to her plunging through the table setting up the pinfall.

WWE Intercontinental Championship

Gunther (c) vs. The Miz

Winner: Gunther via submission

This evening the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in history, Gunther, put his 533-day title reign on the line against The Miz who sought to capture his ninth Intercontinental Championship. The Miz gave a valiant effort and was able to land several low blows, while distracting the referee’s attention, but in the end, Gunther was too much as he cinched in the Boston Crab to capture the win.

Santos Escobar vs. Dragon Lee

Winner: Santos Escobar via pinfall

Over the past several weeks, Santos Escobar systematically took out each member of the LWO after he decided he no longer wished to remain in Rey Mysterio’s shadow. Escobar was supposed to square off with the last man standing in the LWO, Carlito, until he was brutally attacked on Smackdown last night. Following the assault, Dragon Lee stepped up and pleaded with Smackdown general manager Nick Aldis to put him in the match bringing us to tonight’s bout. Santos Escobar proved to be too much for Lee as he hit the South of the Border Destroyer and then the Phantom Driver to solidify the victory.

WWE Women’s Championship

Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zoey Stark

Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Zoey Stark showed some brief flurries of offense, but Ripley was simply too formidable of an opponent. Ripley finally vanquished Stark with The Riptide to retain her title.

Men’s Wargames Match

Drew McIntyre & The Judgement Day (Finn Balor, Damian Priest, Dominik Mysterio, and JD McDonagh) vs. Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso, and Randy Orton

Winners: Cody Rhodes, Seth Rollins, Sami Zayn, Jey Uso, and Randy Orton

The same rules would apply for the men’s match as the women’s earlier in the evening.  The key storyline to follow in this match would be whether Randy Orton, who’s been on the shelf injured for over a year and a half, would show after being announced as the final member of Rhodes’ team this past Monday on RAW. The first two participants in the match were Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. The order of entry following the first two competitors was JD McDonagh, Jey Uso, Damian Priest, Sami Zayn, Drew McIntyre, Cody Rhodes, Dominik Mysterio, and Randy Orton.

When it appeared Orton would no show, Rhea Ripley ran to the ring with Damian Priest’s Money In The Bank briefcase after Rollins, the World Heavyweight Champion, was put through a table. Just as Priest was going to cash in his contract, Orton interrupted and made his way to the ring. Orton helped his team run roughshod on the opposing team culminating in Cody Rhodes hitting the Cross-Rhodes on Damian Priest for the win.

As they celebrated in the ring, the shock of the night came as CM Punk’s music echoed throughout the arena and he made his return to WWE after his termination from AEW in August following a backstage altercation with Jack Perry.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

November in the New York and New Jersey Boxing Scenes

By Frank Bartolini

The second week of November was very active and entertaining for the fight game. Getting things started was promoter Lou Dibella of Dibella Entertainment. Edison Ballroom in the heart of Times Square, New York City, hosted this event on November 7th. A first-rate affair that had cadets from West Point greeting well-dressed guests on arrival, former U.S. Marine junior lightweight Jamal Herring, Cincinnati, Ohio, returned to action after a brief fifteen-month retirement. He stopped and outclassed undefeated Nicholas Molina of Lowell, Massachusetts in round one. A packed house saw Herring raise his record to 24-4, 12 KOs, as Molina slipped to 13-1, 5 KOs.

Two nights later, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame (NJBHOF) had its fifty-third annual inductions at the Venetian in Garfield, New Jersey. Held at an opulent banquet hall, the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame dinner is a formal event just shy of being a black-tie affair. Notable guests included the Commissioner Larry Hazzard, former heavyweight contender Chuck Wepner, heavyweight contender Otto Wallin, and world-renowned officials, boxing judge Steve Weisfeld and Referee Benji Estevez. Inductees this year were former world rated middleweight Omar Sheika, one time world rated light Anthony Fletcher (who was recently released from prison after serving 29 years first degree murder that was reduced to aggravated manslaughter by the Innocence Project), and heavyweight journeyman Maurice Harris. NJBHOF President Henry Hascup devotes countless hours to the Hall, and also handles the master of ceremonies duties for the annual event.

On Saturday, November 11th in Newark, NJ at The Robert Treat Hotel, the number one promoter in the Garden State, Rising Star Promotions, entertained a sold-out crowd. This was Rising Star Promotions' fiftieth fight card since starting the business in December of 2015. World ranked middleweight Thomas “Cornflake” LaManna is the CEO of the outfit. LaManna has been a key player in reviving the sport in the Garden State.

That evening, super bantamweight Emmanual Rodriguez got back on the winning track after losing two out of his last three battles. Rodriguez of Newark NJ is a popular boxer who sells a ton of tickets. Gilberto Mendoza was flown in from Modesto, California to face Rodriguez. Rodriguez has solid skills but is not a heavy hitter. Winning every round Rodriguez went home with an eight round unanimous decision victory.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

WWE Fastlane 2023

WWE made their way to the Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana this evening for Fastlane. They would definitely need a strong showing tonight after AEW dropped a bombshell in the closing moments of their outstanding Wrestledream pay per view last weekend with the debut of Adam Copeland (formerly known as Edge). Following some additional roster cuts recently, that included such names as Dolph Ziggler and Matt Riddle, tonight’s card was noticeably thin as it only featured five bouts albeit with three championships contested. Despite the event featuring The Bloodline, Undisputed Universal Champion, Roman Reigns, would also be conspicuous by his absence from the show. Tonight’s main event pit Seth Rollins against Shinsuke Nakamura in a Last Man Standing Match with the World Heavyweight Championship hanging in the balance. 

WWE Undisputed Tag Team Championship

Cody Rhodes & “Main Event” Jey Uso vs. The Judgment Day (Finn Balor & Damian Priest) (c)

Winners: Cody Rhodes & Jey Uso via pinfall

Following Jey Uso’s recent departure from The Bloodline and move to Monday Night RAW, The Judgment Day made an attempt to recruit him to no avail. The Judgment Day did not take this rejection well and proceeded to viciously attack him until Cody Rhodes came to his rescue. Authority figure Adam Pearce stepped in and that brought us to our title encounter tonight. The match devolved into chaos late as the rest of the Judgment Day and J.D. McDonagh became involved in the match. McDonagh inadvertently struck Priest in the knee with the Money In the Bank briefcase effectively removing him from the match and allowing Uso and Rhodes to focus on Balor. First, Rhodes executed the Cody Cutter with an assist from Uso and then finished Balor off with the Cross Rhodes to crown new Undisputed Tag Team Champions.

Six-Man Tag Team Match

L.W.O. (Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar) w/ Zelina Vega & a mystery partner vs. Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits

Winners: L.W.O. (Rey Mysterio & Santos Escobar) & Carlito via pinfall

Following a brutal beat down of Joaquin Wilde and Cruz del Toro on Friday Night Smackdown by The Street Profits and Lashley, the L.W.O. was left shorthanded. Rey Mysterio proceeded to put in a call for backup to even the odds tonight. At the onset of the match, it appeared that we would have a handicap match on tap. Late in the match, Mysterio appeared to be in dire straits as Escobar was incapacitated. Rey’s backup then arrived just in time in the form of Carlito. Carlito delivered an immediate impact on the match and made short work of Montez Ford as he finished him off with a backstabber to claim victory.

WWE Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match

Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka vs. Iyo Sky (c)

Winner: Iyo Sky via pinfall

Sky appeared in danger of losing her title late in the match as she was laid out on the arena floor while Flair had the upper hand on Asuka. Sky’s Damage Ctrl cohort Bayley then made her way to ringside to help Sky back into the ring. Flair then cinched in the Figure Eight on Asuka with a title victory within her grasp. Next, Bayley climbed to the ring apron to distract the referee and allow Sky to recover to execute the Over The Moonsault on Flair. The champ then covered Flair to retain her title.

John Cena & LA Knight vs. The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa & Jimmy Uso) w/ Paul Heyman

Winners: John Cena & LA Knight via pinfall

John Cena was originally scheduled to team with AJ Styles until he suffered a brutal attack at the hands of Jimmy Uso, who continues to try and earn his way back into The Bloodline, and Solo Sikoa recently on Friday Night Smackdown. LA Knight quickly stepped up to fill the void leading us to tonight’s match. In the closing moments of the match, with Solo Sikoa outside the ring, John Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle on a laid out Jimmy Uso setting up LA Knight for the Blunt Force Trauma to solidify the victory.

World Heavyweight Championship Last Man Standing Match

Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Seth Rollins (c)

Winner: Seth Rollins

The bitter rivalry between Seth “Freakin” Rollins and Shinsuke Nakamura entered a new chapter tonight following Rollins’ successful title defense at last month’s Payback event as tonight the championship gold would again be on the line - this time, however, in a Last Man Standing Match. For those unfamiliar with a Last Man Standing Match, a winner is crowned when you incapacitate your opponent to the extent he is no longer able to answer the referee’s ten count. The chaos of the main event eventually spilled out of the ring and into the crowd. The final moments saw the two competitors on a platform where Rollins hoisted Nakamura up into the Falcon Arrow and dropped him through a table. Nakamura was unable to answer the referee’s ten count as Rollins was able to retain his championship.

Monday, September 25, 2023

Boxing Stars Converge on AC for Annual Hall of Fame Weekend

The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame is set to celebrate and honor the Class of 2023 this weekend at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ - The Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame (ACBHOF) returns to the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on September 29, 2023. The star-studded weekend will feature the induction of 24 fighters, trainers, and contributors who have had significant impacts on the boxing scene and community in Atlantic City.

The seventh annual installment of the Awards & Induction Weekend kicks off with the Opening Bell VIP Cocktail Reception from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM on September 29th at Hard Rock's DAER Club. An evening of professional boxing, presented by Hard Hitting Promotions, will close out Friday night’s festivities. The first bout on this card is scheduled for 8:00 PM at Bally’s.

The weekend continues Saturday, September 30th with the Fight Fan Experience at Hard Rock, 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM, and Awards & Induction Ceremony at Hard Rock’s Sound Waves Theater, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM.

The weekend's festivities shift from the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino to the Flagship Hotel on Sunday, October 1st with the Brunch with Legends at the Blue Water Grille, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.

This year’s induction class includes 24 of boxing’s finest, ranging from fighters to ringside reporters, with connections to the seaside resort town. This year's class is also significant in that it includes a new category of inductees, the Pioneers, a group of boxing people who made significant contributions to the city’s rich boxing scene in the pre-casino era.

The following individuals will be inducted into the ACBHOF this weekend:

George Foreman

George Foreman needs little introduction in the world of sports and grilling. The legendary two-time world champion reigned supreme as undisputed world heavyweight champion between 1973 and 1974, scoring victories over Joe Frazier, José Roman, and Ken Norton. His reign as champion was halted by sports icon Muhammad Ali in the October 30, 1974 showdown dubbed The Rumble in the Jungle. In the 1990s, Foreman held the World Boxing Association (WBA), International Boxing Federation (IBF), and World Boxing Union (WBU) world titles in the heavyweight division. The big man, whose career spanned nearly 30 years (1969-1997), fought in AC five times against notable heavyweight opponents such as Gerry Cooney, Evander Holyfield, Lou Savarese, and Shannon Briggs. Prior to his professional career, Foreman won the gold medal in the heavyweight division at the 1968 Summer Olympic Games in Mexico City. Non-sports fans became familiar with the former world champion for his namesake, fat-reducing, and portable grill, the George Foreman Grill.

Shannon Briggs

Two-time world heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs fought professionally from 1992 to 2016. A veteran of 68 professional fights, Briggs fought ten times in AC. Two of these contests in the city were for world titles. On March 28, 1998, he challenged Lennox Lewis for the World Boxing Council (WBC) world heavyweight title at the Convention Center. Briggs later unsuccessfully defended his World Boxing Organization (WBO) world heavyweight title against Sultan Ibragimov at Boardwalk Hall. Other notable opponents in Atlantic City included fellow 2023 ACBHOF inductees Darroll Wilson (1996) and George Foreman (1997). A native of Brooklyn, Briggs was inducted into the New York State and Florida Boxing Halls of Fame in 2022.

David Tua

A Samoan-New Zealand former heavyweight boxer, David Tua achieved international notoriety after capturing the bronze medal at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. His December 1, 1992 debut marked the beginning of a nearly 21-year professional boxing career. Over the course of his career, Tua fought 14 of his 59 bouts in Atlantic City. On March 15, 1996, he defeated John Ruiz for the WBC International heavyweight title at Convention Hall. He went on to successfully defend this belt the following year on April 5th against Oleg Maskaev at Bally's Park Place. Other notable opponents in AC included Michael Moorer (2002) and Monte Barrett (2010).

Pinklon Thomas

A professional fighter from 1978 to 1993, Pinklon Thomas held the WBC world heavyweight title from 1984 to 1986. A veteran of 51 fights, he appeared on seven boxing cards in Atlantic City. Notable opponents in the city included Gerrie Coetzee (1983), Alfonso Ratliff (1983), and Evander Holyfield (1988), all of whom held world titles at some point in their careers.

Tracy Harris Patterson

The adopted son of former world heavyweight champion, Floyd Patterson, Tracy Harris Patterson had a career that spanned over 15 years. A two-division world champion in the super bantamweight and super featherweight divisions, Tracy and his father became the first father and son duo to win world titles in boxing. Out of his 73 professional fights, Patterson fought in Atlantic City 14 times. Notable opponents in the city included Hector Acero Sánchez (1994) and Arturo Gatti (1997). Patterson fought his last professional fight in 2000, and retired with a record of 63 wins, eight losses, and one draw.

Doug DeWitt

Doug DeWitt fought professionally from 1980 to 1992. Over the course of his long career, the Yonkers-based pugilist fought 22 times in Atlantic City. Notable fights in AC included capturing the WBO middleweight title with a victory over Robbie Sims on April 18, 1989, and a defense of this title against Matthew Hilton on January 15, 1990. DeWitt also fought his last fight in AC, a loss to James Toney at Trump Taj Mahal, on December 5, 1992.

Darroll Wilson

A professional fighter in the heavyweight division between 1993 and 2006, Darroll Wilson was a respected, and at times, dangerous gatekeeper fighter for young prospects and world champion hopefuls for much of his career. A veteran of 16 professional fights in Atlantic City, notable opponents in the city included Shannon Briggs (1996) and Ray Mercer (2005). In his March 15th bout against Briggs, Wilson knocked out the rising star in the third round of the contest, handing him his first career loss. Wilson was well-liked by AC boxing fans, having fought out of Pleasantville for much of his career.

Shamone Alvarez

A graduate of Egg Harbor Township High School, Shamone Alvarez was one of the Atlantic City area’s most popular professional fighters during the early 2000s. A welterweight boxer, who fought professionally from 2002 to 2012, Alvarez was featured on 16 boxing shows in AC. On June 2, 2007, he won the vacant WBO – North American Boxing Organization (NABO) welterweight title with a unanimous decision victory over Jose Luis Cruz at Boardwalk Hall. Alvarez successfully defended this title in the same venue later that summer on August 31st with a victory over Germaine Sanders. He retired with a record of 21 wins and six losses. Alvarez was honored by the New Jersey Boxing of Fame last fall when the fighter joined the 2022 induction class at a ceremony in Garfield.

Jamillia Lawrence

Jamillia Lawrence fought professionally from 1998 to 2001, compiling a record of seven wins and five losses. Three of her professional contests were on Atlantic City cards, with another fought in nearby Pleasantville. Her December 8, 2000 bout at Bally’s Park Place against Marlene Keyes was on the undercard of Leavander Johnson versus Sean Fletcher.

Arnold Robbins

Arnold Robbins is an Atlantic City-based manager and trainer. Several fighters with connections to the area have worked with him over the course of his career, including the late Leavander Johnson, Shamone Alvarez, Patrick Majewski, Alfred Kinsey, and Osnel Charles. Robbins serves as a boxing coach at the Atlantic City Police Athletic League (PAL).

Matt Howard

Matt Howard is a boxing advisor, manager, trainer, and casino executive from New Jersey. Over the years, he has trained and advised several notable fighters, including Ray Mercer, Tracy Harris Patterson, Donovan "Razor" Ruddock, Arturo Gatti, and Virgil Hill. Howard has served in a variety of roles in the casino industry for locations such as Harrah's, Tropicana, Resorts, and Foxwoods.

Joe Hand Sr.

Joe Hand Sr. is the founder and chairman of Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. Hand, a former Philadelphia Police Officer and Detective, started his long career in boxing when he became a charter shareholder of Cloverlay Corporation in 1967. This organization gained notoriety as a guiding force behind Joe Frazier's march to the world heavyweight title. His work with Cloverlay taught him valuable lessons about sports promotions and led him to establish Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. in 1971. Over the years, the company has established itself as a leader in the distribution of pay-per-view boxing, UFC, and special events on the east coast, especially in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Hand's previous honors include inductions into the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame (1992), Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame (2012), and Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame (2013).

Rudy Battle

Longtime chairman of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission Rudy Battle started his career as a professional boxing referee in 1977. Until his retirement from refereeing in 2004, he was the "third man in the ring" for bouts involving a "who's who" list of boxing royalty. He refereed over 500 matches that included world champion fighters such as Mike Tyson, Larry Holmes, Michael Spinks, Riddick Bowe, Matthew Saad Muhammed, Roberto Duran, Vinnie Pazienza, Bernard Hopkins, and Bobby Czyz. A native of Philadelphia, Battle was a fixture at Atlantic City boxing cards ranging from world title fights to club shows. The biggest assignment of Battle’s career came on April 19, 1991, when he refereed the Evander Holyfield versus George Foreman world heavyweight championship fight at Convention Hall in AC.

Benjy Esteves Jr.

Benjy Esteves Jr. has served as professional boxing referee since 1992. Arguably one of the most active referees in New Jersey boxing history, Esteves "cut his teeth" in boxing officiating club shows in the Garden State. Many of his early fights were held in the casinos and convention spaces of Atlantic City. Since then, Esteves' reputation as an outstanding official has landed him refereeing jobs in mega fights such as the September 15, 2018 middleweight world title showdown between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

Lee Samuels

A native of Pennsville, New Jersey, Lee Samuels is best known for being the longtime publicist for boxing promotion, Top Rank, Inc. Apart from a short break from the company between 1993 and 1996, Samuels served as the promotion’s PR man from 1983 to 2017. Since 2017, he has worked as a coordinator with Top Rank. Besides working as a publicist, Samuels also wrote for the Pennsville Progress, Penns Grove Record, Camden Courier-Post, and Philadelphia Bulletin. Samuels was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota, New York in 2019.

Joseph Santoliquito

The longtime president of the Boxing Writers Association of America, Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter from the Philadelphia area. He has written feature stories for several major media outlets, including,,,, Deadspin, The Ring, and The Philadelphia Daily News. Santoliquito’s 2006 story, “Love at First Beep,” was nominated for an Emmy Award.

Buster Drayton

Philadelphia's Buster Drayton held the IBF super welterweight title from 1986 to 1987. A veteran of 21 fights in Atlantic City, Drayton unsuccessfully challenged Julian Jackson for the WBA super welterweight title on July 30, 1988 at Harrah's Marina Hotel Casino in the city. This was Drayton's final appearance as a fighter before an AC crowd. He retired from boxing in 1995 with a record of 40 wins, 15 defeats, and one draw. Drayton died at the age of 70 on November 20, 2022.

Marty Feldman

Broomall, Pennsylvania’s Marty Feldman wore many different hats during a lifetime in boxing. A professional boxer, manager, trainer, and gym owner, Feldman is well-known for his work with fighters Frank "The Animal" Fletcher, Prince Charles Williams, and Dave Tiberi. Feldman fought professionally in the middleweight division between 1953 and 1962, compiling an impressive record of 20 wins and three losses. To kick-off his career, he won by fourteen consecutive knockouts between 1953 and 1955. Over the course of his boxing career, he fought once at Convention Hall in AC on July 1, 1961. Feldman died at the age of 83 on February 14, 2017. He is the father of boxing promoters David and Damon. Feldman was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006.

Rocky Castellani

Rocky Castellani lived and fought out of Northeast Pennsylvania over the course of his professional boxing career, with the exception of a stint in the Marine Corps during World War II. He was considered a top contender for the world middleweight title, fighting boxing greats such as Bobo Olson in 1954 for the world middleweight title, Sugar Ray Robinson in 1955, and Gene Fullmer in 1956. Following his long boxing career, Castellani retired with his family to Atlantic City where he trained young fighters and owned Rocky Castellani and Sons taverns in AC and Galloway Township.

Frankie Polo

A native of Philadelphia, Jerry Anzalone fought professionally under the moniker Frankie Polo from 1930 to 1934. An AC transplant, the lightweight fought 20 of his 37 recorded professional fights in AC. On July 8, 1930, Polo squared off against Philadelphia’s Eddie Roberts on the first boxing card held at AC’s Convention Hall. A veteran of 16 fights at the legendary Waltz Dream Arena in AC’s Northside, Polo retired with a record of 21 wins, 11 losses, and five draws. Following his retirement from prizefighting, Polo ran many local boxing shows for churches and charities, and trained amateur fighters at the AC, Pleasantville, and Somers Point PALs. His grandson, Guy Loggi, owns and serves as the senior instructor at International Karate Academy in Somers Point.

Joe Miller

A promoter of several hundred boxing cards, Joe Miller was arguably one of the most important figures in AC during the pre-casino era. He purchased the Waltz Dream Arena, a 3,000-seat venue on the city’s northside, in 1925. Miller turned the former jazz club on Ohio Avenue into the most consistent and important AC boxing venue during this era. Miller offered high quality shows featuring rising prospects, club fighters, and visiting stars. Miller also welcomed African American fighters and allowed “mixed-race” matches between Black and White boxers. He sold the Waltz around 1941 and opened a newsstand and sandwich shop on the Boardwalk.

Horace M. Leeds

Horace M. Leeds was born in AC on November 1, 1865 to a notable family in the area. Known as the “Fighting Quaker” during his bare-knuckle boxing career, Leeds is credited with fighting the first boxing main event in the history of AC, a February 1887 loss to Willie Clark. He fought and trained with notable fighters of his day including Willie Clark, Al O’Brien, Billy Leedom, Professor John H. Clark, Dominick McCaffrey, and James J. Corbett. Known as a particularly aggravating fighter in the ring, Leeds had excellent footwork, speed, and defense that helped him to avoid punishment in amateur and professional contests. In 1929, Leeds, a lifelong resident of AC, died at the age of 64 and is interred at the Atlantic City Cemetery.

"KO" Becky O'Neill and Willie O'Neill

The O’Neills, “KO” Becky and Willie, are considered boxing legends in the city of Philadelphia and beyond in large part thanks to their work with WBA bantamweight world champion Jeff Chandler. The O’Neills’ connection with Chandler began in the mid-1970s when the then rising Philadelphia prospect approached his friend Willie to help guide his career. Willie, under the impression that past legal issues would hinder his ability to get a manager license from the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission, turned to his wife Becky to officially take on the role of Chandler’s manager. With Willie as his trainer and adviser, and Becky as his manager, “Joltin’” Jeff Chandler went on to capture the WBA bantamweight title in 1980 with a victory over Juan Solis in Miami. Willie passed away in 1994, with Becky dying after a long illness in 2005.

Founded in 2014, the ACBHOF is committed to preserving the rich boxing history of Atlantic City, through live historical curation, exhibits, legendary boxing stars, and personality appearances.

Visit the ACBHOF website for tickets, room accommodations, and a full schedule of this weekend’s events.

Matthew H. Ward is a historian and journalist who specializes in boxing, Jersey Shore, and Philadelphia history. He is the co-author of the Arcadia Publishing books BOXING IN ATLANTIC CITY with John DiSanto, and THE RARITAN BAYSHORE with John Allan Savolaine.

This story also appeared on Patch.

Sunday, September 3, 2023

WWE Payback 2023

The WWE emanated from the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, PA this evening as they presented Payback. Tonight’s card featured six matches with four titles contested and was headlined by Seth Rollins defending the World Heavyweight Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura. The World Heavyweight Championship was of course brought back earlier this summer because Roman Reigns is essentially a part-timer, despite holding the Undisputed Universal Heavyweight Championship, and WWE needs to have a major title to defend on each Premium Live Event. In addition to the headlining title bout, the show also boasted a grudge match between Trish Stratus and Becky Lynch inside an unforgiving steel cage.

Steel Cage Match
Trish Stratus vs. Becky Lynch
Winner: Becky Lynch via pinfall

Tonight’s card opened with a rare women’s steel cage match pitting “The Man” Becky Lynch against Hall of Famer, Trish Stratus, who made a rather surprising full-time return earlier this year. Initially aligned with each other, Trish became tired of the “sidekick” role and turned her back on Lynch igniting a bitter rivalry between the two. Following an encounter that left Trish Stratus covered in welts and bruises, Zoey Stark decided to become involved in the match. Stark attempted to hold The Man at bay as Trish scaled the cage. Lynch delivered a Manhandle Slam to Stark and then ascended the cage to intercept Trish. Lynch then pulled Trish back down the side of the cage and delivered a Manhandle Slam from the top turnbuckle to solidify the victory. 

The Miz vs. LA Knight 
w/ Special Guest Referee John Cena
Winner: LA Knight

Prior to this match, John Cena made his way to the ring as the host of Payback and decided to announce that he was naming himself the special guest referee for the next match. In the closing moments of the match, The Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale, however, it wasn’t enough to secure the pinfall. Moments later, LA Knight was able to rebound and hit the elbow drop before the Blunt Force Trauma to put away The Miz.

United States Championship
Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Austin Theory
Winner: Rey Mysterio via pinfall

Theory was recently set to defend his title against Santos Escobar until he unleashed a vicious attack on his knee and took him out of the bout. Fellow LWO member Rey Mysterio then stepped in and was able to bring the title home. Tonight, Theory attempted to regain his title as he again squared off with the Hall of Famer, Rey Mysterio. In a rather abrupt match, Mysterio found himself up on the shoulders of Theory in a rather precarious position but turned it to his favor as he rolled up Austin for the pinfall victory.

Undisputed Tag Team Championship Pittsburgh Steel City Street Fight
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn (c) vs. Finn Balor & Damian Priest
Winners: Finn Balor & Damian Priest via pinfall

Sami Zayn and his tag team partner Kevin Owens, who made his recent return from injury, defended their titles against the Judgement Day’s Finn Balor and Mr. Money In The Bank, Damian Priest, in a no holds barred Pittsburgh Steel City Street Fight where victory could only be attained by pinfall or submission. It appeared that Zayn and Owens were poised to defend their titles late in the match as Balor was the recipient of a Helluva Kick from Sami. As Balor was covered for a pinfall attempt, Dominik Mysterio stormed the ring with Priest’s Money In The Bank briefcase and cracked Zayn over the back. Mysterio then rolled Balor on top of Zayn to secure the pinfall and crown new tag team champions.

Following this match, there was another filler segment on the show as there was an installment of The Grayson Waller Effect with guest Cody Rhodes. Instead of Rhodes making any substantial announcement regarding himself, he introduced “Main Event” Jey Uso as the newest member of the Monday Night RAW roster. Uso came out, received a few insults from Waller, and reciprocated with a Superkick to the face.

RAW Women’s Championship
Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Raquel Rodriguez
Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Rhea Ripley had her most physically imposing opponent to date in Raquel Rodriguez set to go toe to toe with her this evening with her coveted championship gold on the line. This match came to it’s merciful conclusion following interference once again by Dominik Mysterio which opened the door for Ripley to execute the Riptide and retain her title.

World Heavyweight Championship
Seth Rollins (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Nakamura has had the World Heavyweight Champion in his crosshairs for the past month, following a shocking surprise attack on him on Monday Night RAW, which culminated in their title bout this evening. Shinsuke Nakamura controlled the tempo for a vast majority of this match as he continued to target Rollins’ back. Late in the match, Rollins surprised Shinsuke with a Pedigree and quickly followed up with The Stomp to retain his title.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

WWE Summerslam 2023

By Steve Ward

WWE finally returned to the United States this evening following back-to-back Premium Live Events (aka pay per views) in Saudi Arabia and England as Summerslam emanated from a sold-out Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. Tonight’s card was scheduled for eight bouts with four titles contested. As the show opened, Michael Cole proclaimed that there would be FOUR main events…really? In my opinion, stating four matches are main events is not only contradictory, but also, diminishes the luster of the final bout of the night. Nonetheless, the final match of the evening pit Roman Reigns against his cousin Jey Uso in a familial civil war with the Undisputed Universal Championship on the line.

Logan Paul vs. Ricochet

Winner: Logan Paul via pinfall

The evening kicked off with the polarizing Logan Paul, who made his way to the ring welcomed by an overwhelming chorus of hatred, to take on the high-flying Ricochet. In the closing moments of the contest, Ricochet seemed poised to claim victory as he ascended to the top rope to attempt the 630. Paul rolled out of harm’s way and as the referee checked on him, a member of Paul’s entourage slipped him a pair of brass knuckles which he used to drop Ricochet to solidify the victory.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes 

Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

Following Brock’s betrayal of Cody on RAW the night after Wrestlemania, the two have engaged in a bitter rivalry that has seen each man claim one victory a piece in each of their two previous meetings with the deciding match this evening. Brock Lesnar dominated the vast majority of this bout as he delivered everything in his arsenal only to have Rhodes continue to ask for more. Late in the match, Lesnar met the dreaded exposed turnbuckle with his head which opened the door for Cody to cinch in Brock’s own patented Kimura Lock on him. Brock managed to escape and attempt the F5 again only to have Cody slip out. Rhodes proceeded to deliver three consecutive Cross Rhodes to slay The Beast.

Summerslam Battle Royal

Winner: LA Knight

In an effort to pack more talent onto the card, an over-the-top battle royal was added to the card with nothing other than bragging rights at stake. The final four men in the bout were AJ Styles, Bronson Reed, LA Knight, and Sheamus. The first to go was Bronson Reed at the hands of LA Knight. Styles was eliminated next by Sheamus thanks to an assist by Karrion Kross. As Styles stood on the ring apron, likely setting himself up to deliver a Phenomenal Forearm, Kross grasped Styles’ leg allowing Sheamus to take advantage and kick him in the face. LA Knight then clotheslined Sheamus over the top rope to reign victorious.

MMA Rules Match

Ronda Rousey vs. Shayna Baszler

Winner: Shayna Baszler via submission

Following Baszler’s betrayal of Rousey during their tag team title bout at Money In The Bank, which cost them their titles, things have gotten ugly between the two former sparring partners. With a long-standing friendship dating back to their UFC days, the two have quickly become bitter rivals as Baszler has felt like she’s been trapped in Rousey’s shadow which has brought us to tonight’s match. Following a rather uneventful match, Baszler cinched in the Kirifuda Clutch to earn the submission victory.

WWE Intercontinental Title Match

Gunther (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

Winner: Gunther via pinfall

Since Gunther overcame McIntyre and Sheamus at Wrestlemania to retain his championship, he has continued his torrid streak as the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of the 21st Century. Recently, McIntyre made his return to WWE television for the first time since Wrestlemania and immediately confronted The Ring General. That lead us to tonight’s hard-hitting encounter between the two as Gunther entered the night only 32 days from matching the Honky Tonk Man’s legendary reign as Intercontinental Champ. McIntyre gave Gunther a run for his money as he was perched on the top rope and appeared to be in dire straits as The Scottish Warrior seemed poised to deliver a superplex until he was propelled by Gunther onto the top rope in a quite precarious landing position. Gunther then capitalized and delivered the power bomb to solidify his title defense.

World Heavyweight Championship

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Finn Balor

Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Their ongoing rivalry continued this evening as Balor received another title shot against Rollins after he was arguably cost a victory at Money In The Bank thanks to the distraction of his fellow Judgement Day stablemate, Damian Priest. Just as Rollins was building momentum late in the match, Priest made his way to ringside with Dominik Mysterio and Rhea Ripley soon to follow. The distraction was enough to give Balor a temporary edge as he was able to land the Coup de Grace but could not capitalize. Priest then slid the Money In The Bank briefcase in the ring and proceeded to distract the referee. As Balor crawled over to retrieve it, Rollins stopped him with the stomp as he drove Balor’s face into the briefcase allowing him to secure the pinfall.

WWE Women’s Championship

Asuka (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Bianca Belair

Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Asuka looked to continue her title reign following her victory over Bianca Belair at Night of Champions as she engaged in a triple threat affair with Belair and Charlotte Flair who made her recent return. In the closing moments of the match, Flair had the Figure 8 cinched in on Belair. Asuka then sprayed the mist in the face of Flair and attempted to kick Belair in the head. Belair ducked and rolled up Asuka to become the new champion - for a few minutes.

WWE Women’s Championship

Bianca Belair (c) vs. Iyo Sky

Winner: Iyo Sky via pinfall

Just moments after Belair won the Women’s Championship, Miss Money In The Bank, Iyo Sky’s music echoed throughout Ford Field as she made her way to the ring with Bayley. Sky cashed in her briefcase and immediately hit a moonsault on Belair to become the new WWE Women’s Champion.

WWE Undisputed Universal Championship Tribal Combat Match

Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs. Jey Uso

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

Following Jimmy and Jey Uso’s election to turn on Roman Reigns, they have become embroiled in a bitter Bloodline civil war which led us to tonight’s Tribal Combat. Essentially this no holds barred match was not only for the Undisputed Universal Championship, but also to determine who would sit at the head of the table as the tribal chief. As Jey Uso seemed poised to pull off the unthinkable late in the match, Solo Sikoa emerged to turn the tides. Jey was able to remove Sikoa from the equation with a splash through the announce table and again turned his attention to Roman. After delivering an Uso Splash to Roman, Jey was pulled from the ring by his brother Jimmy who emerged from the crowd. Roman then capitalized and drove Jimmy through another table propped up in a corner of the ring with a devastating spear to retain his title.

Monday, July 3, 2023

Inside the Ringside with Frank Bartolini - Hulu Theater at MSG

By Frank Bartolini

Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York City:  Matchroom Boxing delivered another superb night of boxing to New York. On top of the card, popular super middleweight contender Edgar Berlanga, Brooklyn, NY, faced Jason Quigley, Ireland. Berlanga garnered an undefeated record as part of Top Rank’s stable. Earlier this year, Top Rank and Berlanga parted ways. Both Golden Boy and PBC showed interest in signing Berlanga, but he chose Eddie Hearn. 

Irishman Jason Quigley, 167.5 lbs., was brought in as the opponent to showcase Berlanga's,167.75 lbs., skills. A big draw in the Big Apple, Berlanga had a house full of cheering fans. 

Anxious to end a four-bout drought without scoring a knockout, Berlanga went straight to work from the opening bell. In round three, Quigley hit the deck after absorbing a Berlanga right to the side of the head. During the fifth stanza, Berlanga scored a questionable knockdown after hurting Quigley with a left hook to the chin. To his credit, Quigley kept himself in the fight with some slick boxing while getting in his licks when he had his chances. As the clock ran out in the final heat, Berlanga got through with a left hook followed by a straight right to his foe’s cranium that resulted in Quigley eating rosin dust. Going for the kill, Berlanga dropped Quigley again with a barrage of punches.

The sold-out crowd roared in approval with the decision when ring Announcer Dave Diamante read the scores 116-108 twice and 118-106, all for Berlanga who’s record is now 21-0, 16 KOs. Quigley gave an admirable effort as his record dips to 20-3, 14 KOs. 

A former junior middleweight champ Jamie Munguia and future Hall of Famer Gennady Golovkin are a couple of names that have come up as potential future adversaries for Berlanga. After scoring sixteen first round knockouts in first sixteen fights as a professional, Berlanga has become a "bombs away" headhunter at times, shots that negate his body attacks. During his streak of kayoes, Berlanga's mid-section assault was a precursor to him tagging his opponents with crushing shots to the head. Berlanga will have to revisit those techniques if he is going to compete against the elite of the super middleweight ranks. 

Bombs away! Nothing better than watching two heavyweights with limited defensive ability take turns clocking one another. Thirteen-year veteran heavyweight Joe Cusumano, Danville, VA, scored the biggest win of an up until now ordinary career. Sadly, Cusumano crushed the hopes of one-time heavyweight contender Adam Kownacki, Brooklyn, NY, resurrecting his livelihood. A Cusumano, 238.25 lbs., right to Kownacki’s face dropped the Polish hammer in round one. Kownacki, 251.75 lbs., found his way back to his corner and continued his losing struggle until he was brutally finished at the two-minute mark of round eight. With the win, a big payday awaits Cusumano, 22-4 20 KOs. Falling to 20-4, 15 KOs, Kownacki has lost his last four fights, three of those by ugly knockouts. Popular consensus agrees Kownacki should never again step foot in a boxing ring.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Inside the Ringside with Frank Bartolini

By Frank Bartolini

As I traverse north on the New York Thruway to this year's International Boxing Hall of Fame inductions, the Hudson River runs alongside me moving in the opposite direction passing by New York City before dumping into the Atlantic Ocean. My mind began thinking about the great island of Manhattan. 

Who is Larry Goldberg? 

Larry is a Ventnor New Jersey native. During Atlantic City’s pugilism heyday Goldberg fell in love with the sport of boxing in grade school while attending fights at various casinos. By the time Goldberg graduated Atlantic City High School in 1996, Larry had been ringside to witness all-time greats Larry Holmes, Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones, Mike Tyson and the list goes on and on. 

Attending Hofstra University turned Larry into a New Yorker, and these days he calls Manhattan home. In 1998, during the early days of boxing websites when most fans were still receiving their timely reports from Boxing Flash and Boxing Update, Goldberg launched immediately became, and still is, one of the most popular boxing websites on the internet. 

In October 2022, Larry delved into promoting professional boxing club shows at the Sony Hall in Times Square NYC. Since then, Goldberg’s promotional company, Boxing Insider Promotions, has promoted an additional three more shows at the venue and each one is better than the last. Helping guide Larry is IBHOF inductee Lou DiBella and seasoned matchmaker Eric Bottjer. 

All of the Boxing Insider shows are scheduled on Thursday nights. Most recently on April 27th, Goldberg took a big step forward when DAZN aired this show globally on their streaming network. 

Boxing Insider Promotions returns to Sony Hall in Times square on June 29th. Sizzling hot prospect junior welterweight Kurt Scoby will face Philadelphian, and former world title challenger, Hank Lundy in a scheduled eight round main event. Back in February, Scoby stole the show on a ShoBox fight card with a stunning second round knockout. 

Nearly a half a millennium ago, legend tells us our forefathers purchased Manhattan Island from Lenape Indians for a few shekels and a pouch of beads. In 1626 when this deal was consummated, the world was full of mystics. Not one soothsayer foresaw what this islet would manifest into by February 4, 2023, when a sold-out HULU theater hosted undisputed world featherweight queen Amanda Serrano, Brooklyn, NY, duking it out with gloves against Erika Cruz of Mexico. 

Determined to attend the Serrano vs Cruz weigh-in on Friday morning, I came into the Big Apple Thursday night and lodged at The New Yorker Hotel. Located across the street from Madison Square Garden on Eighth Ave., The New Yorker Hotel opened in 1930. Nikola Tesla boarded there on the thirty-third floor for the last fifteen years of his life. Upon entering the lobby through the revolving door, you will discover an art deco masterpiece that still maintains an aesthetic appeal.

An exuberant, smiling Alycia Baumgardner captured everyone's heart at the weigh-in on Friday. Baumgardner has never relented in her pursuit of greatness. When Alycia disrobed to mount the scale the "oohs" and "aahs" could be heard. No longer a young prospect with her hair in braids and braces on her teeth, Baumgardner posed with her sculpted figure, head full of beautiful curly hair, and gorgeous smile in a gold bikini. She appeared to be a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model rather than a prizefighter. 

I lodged at the UN Millenium Hilton Hotel, situated on the corner of First Ave and Forty Fourth street with a street address of One UN Plaza, on Friday and Saturday. After having a cocktail at the hotel bar, aptly named the Ambassador Grill and returning to my room, I took in a view of the East River. Frigid temperatures broke all time lows and mighty whirlwinds whisking through the cavernous streets and avenues created a sub zero wind chill. Cutting arctic sting chills did not interfere on whether or not I was going to walk a block and a half up Forty Fourth street to a favorite haunt of Manhattanites titled the Overlook Bar. A unique cast of patrons can always be found there, including newsies who are employed by the various networks in the area. Upon entering, I knew it was going to be an entertaining evening when two friends, the bouncer Mike and the proprietor Mark, were both on the job. Making it back to the sanctity of my hotel bed before sunrise was an achieved goal. 

Since landing on United States soil Matchroom Boxing USA has consistently delivered quality fight cards. All in attendance at the sold-out Hulu Theater would agree as they roared their approval for Amanda Serrano's unanimous ten round decision win over a hard fighting Cruz. 

Matchroom Boxing's next show at the Hulu Theater is on June 24th. Headlining the show is super middleweight Edgar Berlanga, who squares off against Jason Quigley of Ireland in a twelve rounder. Matchroom signed Berlanga soon after he and Top Rank parted ways. Another interesting scrap set for ten rounds; heavyweight Adam Kownacki will be trying to snap a three-fight losing streak when he faces Joe Cusumano in the semi wind up.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Dawejko KO's Vance

By Frank Bartolini

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ: On June 17th, Bally’s Hotel and Casino hosted a night of boxing promoted by Sal Musumeci with Renee Atkins handling the matchmaking. 

A crowd of four hundred spectators cheered on Philadelphia, PA heavyweight Joey “Tank” Dawejko, 266.5 lb., as he starched Dennis Vance Jr., 277 lb., West Branch, Michigan in under one round. 

Dawejko started out quickly and scored solid jabs to Vance's face. A well-placed left hook by Dawejko to Vance's body had a delayed effect. Moments after the blow landed, Vance took a knee. Upon rising Vance went down two more times from left hooks to the mid-section. Showing a huge heart Vance rose and continued to trade punches. Finally, after being allowed to continue after three trips to the canvas, the coup de grace came when Dawejko feinted a left to the body and scored a booming left hook on Vance's chin. After Vance hit the deck for the fourth time, he attempted to regain his footing as the referee waved things off at 2:01 mark of round one. 

Raising his record to 25-10-4, 14 KO’s, Dawejko is scheduled to fight on September 15th at the Live! Casino in Philadelphia, PA. In a post-fight interview, Dawejko said he is staying in the gym to be ready if a bigger opportunity arises. Vance goes back to the Midwest with a stomachache and a record of 4-10, 2 KO’s. 

J Russell Peltz of Philadelphia is guiding Dawejko's career.

Monday, May 8, 2023

WWE Wrestlemania Backlash 2023

By Steve Ward

WWE made it’s pay per view/premium live event debut this evening as they emanated from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Tonight’s card seemed to be overshadowed with the buildup to Night of Champions later this month where a new World Heavyweight Champion will be crowned for the RAW brand as Roman Reigns will be confined to Smackdown with his Undisputed Universal Championship following this year’s WWE Draft. With Reigns out of the picture for tonight, the show would be headlined by Cody Rhodes vs. Brock Lesnar. In addition to the colossal main event, the show featured seven matches in all, and three titles were contested.

WWE RAW Women’s Championship Bianca Belair (c) vs. Io Sky Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Despite being drafted to Smackdown last week, Belair still holds the RAW Women’s Championship and would put it on the line this evening against Damage Ctrl’s Io Sky. Sky seemed poised to upset the champ in the closing moments of the match, but one could argue the late appearance by her Damage Ctrl stable mates cost her the title. Belair was laid out on the canvas as Sky ascended to the top turnbuckle for a moonsault attempt, however, Bayley decided to grab the hair of Belair and hold her down only to be caught by the referee. This distraction was enough for Belair to recover and roll out of harm's way as Sky leaped from the top rope. Belair then executed the KOD to retain her title.

Seth Rollins vs. Omos w/ MVP Winner: Seth Rollins via pinfall

Following the announcement recently of a soon-to-be-crowned World Heavyweight Champion on the RAW brand, Seth Rollins made his intentions known for targeting the new title only to be interrupted by Omos. Omos and MVP proceeded to challenge Rollins to a match this evening as a way for Omos to secure a signature win over “The Architect.” Omos proved to be quite the formidable opponent for Rollins in this contest. The Nigerian Giant withstood the frog splash and multiple stomps (the first of which he stopped with his neck), however, Rollins finally overcame the odds in the end as he delivered the Stomp from the top turnbuckle which allowed him to cover Omos for the victory. 

WWE United States Championship Bobby Lashley vs. Bronson Reed vs. Austin Theory (c) Winner: Austin Theory via pinfall

This bout created another interesting dynamic with the recent roster shake-up from the 2023 WWE Draft as new Smackdown Superstars, Theory and Lashley, competed with RAW’s Bronson Reed in a three-way dance for the United States Championship. In the closing moments of the match, Lashley speared Reed after he missed a moonsault attempt on Theory. The defending champ then snuck up on Lashley and tossed him out of the ring allowing him to easily cover Reed and steal another victory in familiar Theory fashion.

WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Zelina Vega Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

In another situation where the defending champion was recently drafted to the brand opposite of the title which she holds, RAW Superstar Rhea Ripley would defend the Smackdown Women’s Title she just won a few weeks ago at Wrestlemania against Zelina Vega who represented the newly reformed Latino World Order, LWO. Despite the overwhelming crowd support for Vega, who’s family was seated at ringside, the size and power of Ripley was too much for her to overcome as she finally dispensed of Vega with Riptide to successfully defend her title.

San Juan Street Fight Match Bad Bunny vs. Damian Priest Winner: Bad Bunny via pinfall

In a battle of Puerto Rican natives, The Judgment Day’s Damien Priest went toe to toe with multi-platinum recording artist and ally of the LWO, Bad Bunny, in a San Juan Street Fight. Late in the match, Finn Balor and Dominik Mysterio came to the aid of Priest until Rey Mysterio, a surprising appearance by Carlito, the LWO, and Savio Vega all evened the odds and restored order to the match. Bad Bunny, moments later, was able to dispense of Priest with a Bunny Destroyer (a variation of the Canadian Destroyer) following a barrage of chair shots.

The Bloodline (Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso) vs. Matt Riddle, Kevin Owens, & Sami Zayn Winners: The Bloodline via pinfall

The ongoing feud between The Bloodline and Undisputed Tag Team Champions, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens (with the recent infusion of Matt Riddle in the fray), continued tonight in a six-man tag team encounter. The Bloodline was able to overcome several disagreements amongst themselves to dispense of the tag champs and Riddle in the end. The closing moments of the match saw Solo blind tag himself into the match without Riddle’s awareness. Riddle proceeded to focus on Jey Uso as he executed the Bro Derek only to be ambushed by Solo from behind and put down with a Samoan Spike.

Brock Lesnar vs. Cody Rhodes Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

Following his betrayal of Cody Rhodes, the night after Wrestlemania, a bitter feud has embroiled between Brock Lesnar and Cody Rhodes. In the closing moments of tonight’s main event, a bloodied Brock Lesnar seemed to have a victory in his sights after he dropped Rhodes with the F5 and immediately followed it up with the Kimura Lock. Rhodes who appeared to be in dire straits, drove The Beast back onto his shoulders while still trapped in the submission hold to shock Lesnar with the pinfall victory in a rather abrupt match.