Dawejko fighting for his family

Joey Dawejko won his 20th career fight last month. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Away from work, they don’t come much nicer than Joey Dawejko.

Dawejko, of Tacony, is a loving fiancee to Maria Sagias, and the perfect father to the couple’s four daughters, Hailey, Jayla, Giamaria and Meadow.

He’ll play dolls, and while he might not be the best hairdresser, daddy is always ready to work his magic when one of his girls needs to look pretty.

But when he’s at work, Dawejko is completely different.

He’s working his way into becoming a top heavyweight boxer in the world. And to do that, he has to beat people up.

It’s not who he is, it’s what he does.

“I love boxing, but I do it because it’s a chance to take care of my kids and my family,” said Dawejko, 28, who began his boxing career at age 10. “I look at it as the perfect job to take care of my family. My goal is to do it until I don’t have to worry about working and my kids don’t have to worry about anything. And I’m getting there. Boxing has given me a lot.”

He’s given the sport more.

On July 27, Dawejko improved to 20-7-4 after he avenged an earlier draw to Rodney Hernandez by defeating his opponent via unanimous decision in a 10-round fight in Arlington, Texas.

It wasn’t what he wanted, he wanted a knockout, but it was a good fight.

It snapped a three-bout losing streak for the former Lincoln student and put him back on track to where he wants to be.

Dawejko also didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for Hernandez. He was slated to fight Murat Gassiev, who had to pull out of the fight 10 days before because he suffered a shoulder injury during training.

“I needed a big win, and I got it,” Dawejko said. “If I lose that fight, my career could be over because you don’t want to lose four in a row. But it was good. He’s not ranked very high, but he’s a great fighter and he’s very smart.

“He’s not the kind of guy I like to fight. He is very smart, and he doesn’t come out and fight, he tries to move away. I was happy to win. He’s a very good fighter.”

Dawejko didn’t get to show a lot of his power in the victory, but he did show he can stay strong in a long fight. His conditioning was as good as it’s ever been, and he looked as fresh in the final round as he did in the first round.

“The biggest weakness people say I have is my conditioning, but that wasn’t the case,” Dawejko said. “I was fresh. I felt good the whole fight. I was strong in the end, stronger than I was in the beginning. I work hard on that, and I think I was better than ever. I felt really good, and it was good to show everyone I could be strong in the later rounds.”

Dawejko has been showing everyone a lot in the past year.

In fact, his biggest punch wasn’t in front of a sold-out arena or on ESPN. He’s not talking about it, but his biggest punch is rumored to have been during a sparring workout with Anthony Joshua. The internet was buzzing with people saying Dawejko knocked out Joshua during a workout. Days later, Joshua lost his heavyweight championships to Andy Ruiz.

Just don’t ask Dawejko to talk about it.

“People keep asking me and it got people talking about me, but I haven’t said anything about it,” Dawejko said. “I’m friends with Anthony. I wanted to see him do good. We all work hard when we’re sparring. I have worked out with so many great champions. That’s how you get better, by working with the best. That’s the only thing I can say about Anthony. He’s a great boxer, and I learn by working out with guys like that.”

Boxing is a tough sport, and before you get into the ring with a guy who is trying to put you to sleep with a powerful punch, you have to put in the work.

Philly is a boxing city, but Dawejko travels to California for a few weeks before the fight. Then he has to go to the venue. His last fight was in Texas, but he’s fought all over.

That means a lot of work and lots of miles before he comes home and plays his favorite role as family man.

But it’s part of the job.

“Boxing is a great sport, but it is a lot of sacrifice,” said Dawejko, who is nicknamed the Tank. “Boxing is tough because you have to do whatever you need to do. That means being away from your family for long periods of time. You miss holidays. I don’t want to miss Christmas or Thanksgiving or New Year’s, but you have to at times because that’s what it takes.”

Still, he wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Dawejko has a lot of buzz about him these days, and he’s becoming an attraction for his big punches. It probably doesn’t hurt that he has a lot of fans and is very popular.  He’s had recent bouts on ESPN, and the latest that was broadcast live on DAZN, an internet network.

“Things are exciting, because I’ve worked for this and I want to keep having bigger fights,” Dawejko said. “I’m a few fights from accomplishing my goals, but I still have a lot I want to do. I’m willing to work hard for this.

“I’m lucky to have a great girl who really does whatever it takes to let me do what I have to do. And I love my kids. They’re great. I love being around them, but they sacrifice, too. When I need to get ready, they know and they understand.”

That’s why family fun time is so special.

“I love being around them,” Dawejko said. “I fight for them. And the better I do, the better we all do.”