Showtime Boxing returns this Sunday night, live on PPV, from the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, OH. The main event features Kardashian-style “personality” Jake Paul (3-0) going up against former UFC champion Tyron Woodley, who will be making his pro boxing debut.
As the popularity of the Paul brothers–big brother Logan and little bro Jake, the more masterful buzz generator–grow, the profile of the cards they are on also grows. And, of course, that means that the profile level of their undercards also rises.
Charles Conwell and world champion Amanda Serrano are featured on the Showtime program and there is also a heavyweight bout listed on this card that has the attention of the purists.
Juiseppe ‘Joe” Cusumano (19-3) will be facing the young British heavyweight Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois (16-1) in a fight which marks the U.S debut for the 23 year old who lost against Joe Joyce last year.
Days before the fight, I was able to get a hold of Juiseppe in between media obligations and we covered quite a few things leading up to his big fight on Sunday.
While scanning through social media the last few weeks, a common trend appeared–this fight was going to be a showcase for Dubois, considering it is his debut in the states. Most who shared that opinion admitted to not knowing anything about Cusumano, and never seeing any of his fights.
It was November 28, 2020 when Juiseppe was part of a card that gave a million-plus PPV buyers all the nostalgic feels. Mike Tyson faced Roy Jones Jr. on a new platform called Triller. With the country going through that particular phase of the pandemic, the event had no fans, but was supplemented with a slew of artist performances, and a Hollywood-type of production behind it. Juiseppe wasn’t part of the PPV portion of the card but did fight that night, nonetheless.
Leading up to that night, I remember interviewing Juiseppe and he was excited about being on the card, as he looked up to Tyson as a kid.
“It was great! Mike Tyson was the guy I grew up loving and it’s the reason I started to box,” Cusumano told me. “It was a dream come true but on the other hand, there were no fans in attendance due to COVID.”
Cusumano shared the ring with Gregory Corbin (15-3) prior to the main telecast. Looking back, he felt that the crowd-less arena had an impact on his performance early on. “It took a few rounds to get used to fans not screaming but around the fourth round is when I started to get comfortable,” the 33 year old Cusumano said.
In the sixth round, he was able to catch his evasive opponent. “I set him up,” he told NYF. “He kept switching from southpaw to orthodox. The Estradas (Jason the ex fighter and dad Roland), who were my trainers at the time, told me that he squares up when he switches, so just to let my punches go and hit him right down the pipe. That’s exactly what I did and when he squared up, I let the right hand go as hard as I could and it was the first time he ever went to sleep (he'd been TKO'd before, not kayoed).”
After that win, he found himself looking for a gym and team near his home in Carson, VA as the training camp for his previous fight was up north. He admitted that for awhile, he couldn’t find anyone that he felt comfortable with, until he found Vintage Boxing out of Richmond, VA. With them, he finds himself having a similar connection like the one with his old trainer, Robert Matney, his mentor who died in 2014.
While he was waiting for the phone to ring which would give him his next fight, Juiseppe worked two jobs to earn a living and provide for his family. One job is with Hillphoenix which provides refrigerators for stores like Walmart, etc. The other is with Maria’s Old Town 21 restaurant in Petersburg, VA. While he had to go on ‘leave’ from Hillphoenix while in camp, Juiseppe decided to still work at Maria’s at night. He has a certain level of comfort with the family who owns it, as they are from Sicily, and he enjoys working with them.
It was about four weeks ago when the phone rang, and it was his promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr., from CES Boxing. Juiseppe said, “My promoter Jimmy Burchfield called me and told me he had this opportunity, so we took it. I wasn’t fully in the gym when I took it, but you know when you get these types of opportunities, you take them. I started training my ass off and went four weeks without a day off.”
Juiseppe immediately checked into camp and worked. When you see him from previous outings, you can tell that he has dedicated himself more physically. I asked him about his weight and his body transformation. “My coach tells me, ‘Just eat’ as we are doing the work. For my other fights, I would bulk up as I wanted to be bigger, being in the heavyweight division, but it never worked out for me. The extra weight made me sluggish and tired a lot quicker. Anytime I am lean, it’s when I’m most deadly. I’ve had spectacular knockouts when lean, maybe because I had more snap in my punches. If I have the snap with it, it’s night-night for the other guy. I’m good if I’m anywhere between 222 to 234. If I’m over that weight, it doesn’t do me any good.”
When he said that, I immediately suggested the idea of possibly competing in the WBC bridgerweight class and to that, you could almost see a smile through the phone when Joe said, “I would love to get that world title.” (Click here to see the WBC's bridgerweight top ten.)
Shifting the focus back on the training camp he had in preparation for Daniel Dubois….Juiseppe knows many casual fans are writing him off as a stay-busy opponent. I would caution those people as the underdog has spent many days sparring with former WBC Heavyweight Champion Deontay Wilder. If fans think that he will be intimidated by Dubois’ power, I think that comes at a distant second next to Wilders.'
I asked Joe about that Wilder power and how that has prepared him for fights; he said, “Wilder’s power is on a totally different scale. Daniel has power but from what I’ve seen, he doesn’t knock his guys out cold. It’s a big shot and then he finishes you off with 2-3 other shots. Wilder hits you with that one punch that can put you to sleep. Also, Daniel Dubois throws hard shots, but he doesn’t get any thrown back. We are heavyweights, we both have big power but, in this fight, he will have someone throwing punches back at him. I came here to win!”
Juiseppe certainly doesn’t lack confidence; he has a message for the naysayers that are counting him out this Sunday. “Everyone has their opinion, but this is my shot, so they are going to just make it that much sweeter. Only God knows what is going to happen. I’m just going to do the best I can and get this W. I am not there for the paycheck or to lay down for anyone. I’m there to shock the world!”
My Three Cents
Juiseppe Cusumano is a solid heavyweight who has been fighting his way towards an opportunity. The first wasn’t as big as he hoped for but this one comes in the form of a unique attraction, as part of the whole Boxing/YouTuber mini craze. Regardless of who is headlining, Juiseppe must put in the type of performance that is going to make people pay attention and regret ever overlooking him. Can Juiseppe Cusumano derail the Daniel Dubois train Sunday? Is Daniel Dubois going to put himself a bit deeper into the conversation as a legit heavyweight prospect? Time will tell us.