Juiseppe ‘Joe’ Cusumano: The Sicilian Nightmare



Juiseppe ‘Joe’ Cusumano: The Sicilian Nightmare

In recent years, the heavyweight division went from being almost non-existent to now leading the conversation on most days within the boxing social media-sphere.

Speaking of heavyweights, Mike Tyson, who is the most polarizing figure in boxing within the last 20 or more years, has decided to make a comeback in the form of an exhibition.

Details of the card have been scarce; however, a fight that is on this card features heavyweight contender Juiseppe “Joe” Cusumano (click to see specifics from BoxRec on the 18-3 record), who is promoted by CES Boxing, going up against Nick Jones (9-3).

Juiseppe has desires of winning a world title someday but at 32, he knows that the gas pedal must be pushed in order to have a real shot. Juiseppe has added PR specialist Zena to his team in an effort to get his story known throughout the boxing world.

AG: Thank you Joey, for taking the time to do this interview. For those that don’t know you, can you give the readers a quick bio blast and let them know how you were introduced to the sport?

JC:  I grew up in Sicily, Italy and as a young kid, my parents moved to New York. My father owned restaurants so we moved all the way down the east coast. Around nine or ten years old is when I really started to get into boxing as that was the era of Mike Tyson, along with many other great fighters. My dad was a fan of Evander Holyfield while I was a fan of Tyson which at the time, was the fight that everyone wanted to watch. I got really into then and that led me to sign up for boxing and it took off from there.

AG: You’ve made your way around some gyms and even sparred former WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder. What were those experiences like and what did you get out of it?

JC: Deontay Wilder was probably the biggest name that I sparred with but I also shared the ring with many others in Philly, like Bryant Jennings. What I learned from it is that everyone is human. For a while, I was looking at these guys like they were gods so when I made it into the ring with them to spar, I was a little star struck in the beginning. Remember, I watched these guys fight on TV, cheered for them, as I am a big time boxing fan. So here I am with Wilder, the hardest hitting heavyweight in the game and for me to do as well as I did, it showed me that I can be up there with these guys and give them a really good fight. Also, when I showed up to that camp, I was a month and a half removed from my last fight with 20 stitches over my eye. They thought I was crazy for being there but why pass up the opportunity to face one of the greatest?

AG: Your last fight was against Steve Vukosa in which you lost a unanimous decision. Can you let the readers know what happened in that fight?

JC:  I was really disappointed that night. What people don’t know is I had a lot of personal things going on family wise which required me to take care of it. My mind was not there for the fight but I kept it close and a lot of people felt that I won but I ended up losing.

I have a step-father in his 70s that has to be taken care of and I am his only remaining family. He was nice enough to take care of me as a child so I have to be there for him too! I also have two kids of my own, Luciano and Farryn, along with my wife, Ryan, so there is a lot there. I’m 32, so you go through life changes as you are not in your 20s anymore and you have to deal with all of that. You become a different type of an adult when you go into your 30s. I had just gotten married and then got a month notice for the fight. There was so much going and I rushed into it. It just didn’t work out for me that night.

The Cusumano crew.

AG: A few months ago, there were some reports that your promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr (CES Boxing), offered Team Tyson a million dollars to fight you in a sanctioned professional fight. How real was this offer?

JC: That offer was VERY REAL! I believe he didn’t choose to do it because it was a pro fight. We wanted a real pro fight but it would be up to him whether it was going to be 6 or 8 rounds. I just think he wasn’t there to make that decision just yet. He wants to do an exhibition with someone his age to see how he does with that. I think that he wants to see where he is at before fighting a younger heavyweight in the division.

AG: How did you end up making it on this card, which will have fans from all over the world tuning in?

JC: The funny thing is that although he didn’t take the fight with me, I still ended up on the card. My promoter Jimmy made it happen as he called me and said, “we didn’t get the fight with Mike Tyson and I’m so sorry but you are fighting on the undercard for the WBC USNBC title.” That was exciting to hear because it was such a letdown that I didn’t get the Tyson fight. I need this WBC title because a win will place me in the top 10. Once I get this belt, the sky’s the limit. Remember that Wilder after winning this very same belt received a title shot against Bermane Stiverne.

AG: So I am hearing reports about the great Vinny Pazienza working with you for this upcoming fight. Is it true? If so, how did that come about and what role will he play?

The Pazmanian Devil will be in Joey's corner.

JC: Vinny Paz, what a great guy! I love his energy! Ever since I went up to Rhode Island and met the champ, his energy and knowledge is what drew me to him. He is not a boxing coach but he has been in there, a five time champ and you can feel the energy when he is talking about fights. A lot of people would tell me that I need this and need that but I’m better with someone that has the right energy. The minute I felt that from Vinny, I texted him and asked for him to be in my corner. He was all for it and has already taught me how to overcome some obstacles as he has been through everything. He is my motivator, the Pazmanian Devil, the five time champ!

AG: The fight is taking place at the outdoor arena in Carson, CA. Do you find yourself preparing differently because of this?

Fighting outside, will Joey change his prep because of that wild card?

JC: It’s going to be a little chilly but those lights really warm up the ring. I’m training hard so it doesn’t matter where the fight is being held. I’m going old school, hitting trees and running in the country. Like the Rocky movies, I am in the middle of nowhere in Carson, VA to get away and train hard. If you look at my last three to four fights, I made a mistake as I got into weight lifting. I started doing it too much while putting aside the boxing portion. Everyone always told me how much power I had so I thought if I lift more, it would make me that much more powerful. That is not the case and it was a huge mistake. For this fight, I am going with body weight workouts and you will see a faster ‘Sicilian Nightmare!'

AG:  You are fighting Nick Jones (9-3) on Nov 28th in Carson, CA. What do you know about your opponent?

JC: I saw that he fought a good friend of mine Cassius Chaney not too long ago. He has plenty of time to get ready so I couldn’t tell you how he is going to come. If he really wants it, he will be ready and you just never know the type of guy that is going to walk into the ring that night. I just need to make sure that I am ready for whichever guy steps in. He is a good fighter and I can’t take him lightly. He is quick and has a decent jab but he doesn’t like to bang so we’ll see.

AG: What do you say to those that have been following you throughout your career or the ones that will be watching you for the first time in November? Also, where can they follow you on social media?

JC: Thank you to everyone that has stuck with me so far in my career through the ups and downs. I’m really coming to show you guys the best version of me come fight night. I just want this fight to be very memorable because Tyson has been my favorite fighter since I was a kid and I really want to show him what I can do. I just want to show the world my skills. You can follow me on Instagram @juiseppe.cusumano. I will also have new merchandise available soon?

My Three Cents:

Juiseppe Cusumano is a heavyweight fighter who has an opportunity to showcase his skills in front of what is going to be a large audience comprised of hardcore and also casual fans. As you know, the heavyweight division is full of surprises and a successful showing may get him that title shot within the next two years.

One man who knows a thing or two about titles is former five time world champion Vinny Paz, and he had this to say about Joey: “He shouldn’t be counted out! He has a heavy hand and punch. Joey is marketable and not many heavyweights are right now. Joey kayoed some guy in the fourth round with one shot after I told him what to do. He is a bit of an animal. Happy to see him getting back in and coming for the strap. I will be there in November in his corner for sure!”

This pay per view is going to draw a large number of people, so let’s see if Joey Cusumano can capitalize off of this prime opportunity.

You can follow me on twitter @abeg718 and follow @nyfights on Instagram.

Born and raised in the Bronx, New York City, Abe grew up in a family who were and still are die-hard boxing fans. He started contributing boxing articles to NYF in 2017. Abe through his hard work, has made his way up the ranks and is now the editor at NYFights. He is also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA).