Philly’s king of the ring

Tacony resident Joey Dawejko will compete in the Fecarbox heavyweight championship Dec. 1.

Brawl for it all: Joey Dawejko, a Tacony resident, will fight Kelvin Nunez on Dec. 1 at SugarHouse Casino. SUPPLIED PHOTO

A focused Joey Dawejko is a successful one.

Dawejko started his boxing career when he was 10 years old, and while he was a normal kid, going to school, he put most of his energy into boxing.

During his amateur career, he won 56 of his 68 fights.

Then he turned professional, and things changed.

Adults have different responsibilities than kids. And when those adults have children, the responsibilities greatly increase.

While Dawejko was pursuing a professional career, he wasn’t completely focused on boxing. Instead, he was working hard to provide for his kids and working on his boxing when time permitted.

“I was doing everything you can imagine,” Dawejko said. “Mostly, I was a roofer. But I did all kinds of odd jobs. I delivered pizza, I was doing construction, mostly demo jobs, I was painting, pretty much doing any kind of work I could find. I wanted to fight, but at the time, I wasn’t a professional fighter, I was just getting paid to fight.

“I would take fights without training, I would take them on short notice. I wanted to be a boxer, but I had so many other responsibilities, so I couldn’t just do that.”

That changed in February, when he signed with his manager Mark Cipparone. Since then, Dawejko has been all boxing, all the time.

“He changed my life,” said Dawejko, 27. “I’ve been so much better since starting with him because I’m able to be a boxer. I focus on that 100 percent. Boxing is something you have to put everything you have into it. I would fight out of shape and I wouldn’t be 100 percent focused. Now, that’s what I am, focused.”

Dawejko will have to be focused on Dec. 1, when he fights Kelvin Nunez for the Fecarbox heavyweight championship. Nunez, who comes into the fight 15–0, provides a huge challenge for Dawejko, who enters the fight 18–4–4.

He also comes in with all the motivation in the world.

“This is a huge fight because the winner is going to move up and hopefully be ranked in the WBC,” the Tacony native said of the World Boxing Council. “This is huge if I want to keep moving up. I know he’s a great fighter, but I’m very motivated because I want to move up, too.”

Dawejko knows this is the most important fight in his career, and he’s putting in all the work he can to make sure he gets the result he wants.

“Now that I can, I come out to California for a few months for training camp,” Dawejko said. “We put in so much work. I work out six days a week. I do a lot of running, a lot of boxing, I’m trying to get bigger, faster and stronger.

“Coming out here helps me because I have great trainers and I get to focus on boxing. Ever since I started doing this, I’ve done a lot better. I’m just in better shape and I’m more prepared every fight.”

Dawejko is prepared, and he’s prepared because he has great support.

While he’s working out like a mad man, his fiancee, Maria Sagias, is home with the couple’s four daughters, Hailey, 12, Jayla, 5, Giamaria, 2, and Meadow, 3 months.

“I know how lucky I am, she makes sure everything is taken care of so I can be out here training,” Dawejko said. “I have four girls, and I love them all. I miss them when I’m out here, but I’m doing what I have to do. I’ll be home the week of the fight, but I’m doing it for them.”

His fiancee isn’t just supportive when it comes to taking care of business at home.

If you go to SugarHouse Casino on Dec. 1, you’ll see her in action.

“She is the loudest person in the crowd every fight,” said Dawejko, who attended Abraham Lincoln High School. “She just gets me so pumped up. She’s yelling the whole time. I love it.”

She might be the loudest, but she’s not the only one calling out Dawejko’s name.

Dawejko’s fans always come out to support him in full force. But one person who has been missing from his corner is his grandfather, Terry Tobin, who was the one who got him started in the sport.

“He missed one of my amateaur fights,” Dawejko recalled. “He was the reason I was able to fight. He would take me to (Harrowgate Boxing Club) to train, and he would take me everywhere. Whenever I win, I point up because I’m honoring him and my mom.”

Win or lose, he knows they’ll be proud of him.

But he’s only fighting for one result.

“I have to win this fight because of how important it is,” Dawejko said. “I’ve had big fights before. I fought on ESPN and I had a fight on Showtime, they were big, but right now this is the biggest one I have. This will decide what happens next, and I want to keep climbing.

“You know, I’ll be as prepared as I can be because I’m doing everything I can to get ready. He’s tough, and I know he’s working just as hard. I just have to make sure I work harder.” ••

For tickets to the fight, visit Hard Hitting Promotions’ Facebook page, or visit sugarhousecasino.com

Joe Mason can be reached at jmason@bsmphilly.com