The Philadelphia Eagles brought championship glory back to the City of Brotherly Love. And, on Saturday, April 28, at The Liacouras Center, the fighting city’s favorite sons will return home as they chase championship glory of their own. Philadelphia heavyweights BRYANT “BY-BY” JENNINGS and JOEY DAWEJKO battle it out for king of the neighborhood, while super middleweight contender JESSE “Hollywood” HART continues his drive back to a world title challenge when he faces DEMOND NICHOLSON.
A stacked card was made even better with the addition of a world championship main event, as Las Vegas native Jessie Magdaleno will defend the World Boxing Organization (WBO) junior featherweight title against No. 1 contender Isaac Dogboe.
Appearing on the undercard will be 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson (5-0, 2 KOs) of Newark, N.J., in an eight-round featherweight bout against Roxberg Riley (12-0, 6 KOs) of Dallas, Ga.
Magdaleno-Dogboe, Jennings-Dawejko and Hart-Nicholson will be televised LIVE on ESPN and stream in English and Spanish on the ESPN App at 7 p.m. ET. Undercard bouts will stream on the ESPN App beginning at 4 p.m. ET. ESPN Deportes will air the fight at 10 p.m. ET.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Peltz Boxing, tickets, priced at $100 (ringside), $65 and $35, are ON SALE NOW and can be purchased at The Liacouras Center Box Office and www.liacourascenter.com, or by calling Peltz Boxing at 215-765-0922.
“In my opinion, Dawejko vs. Jennings is the biggest Philly vs. Philly fight in 36 years,” said Hall of Fame promoter J Russell Peltz, president of Peltz Boxing. “I have to go all the way back to 1982 when Jeff Chandler defended his WBA world bantamweight title against former high school classmate Johnny Carter in a nationally televised fight from Pennsylvania Hall at the Civic Center. There have been other outstanding all-Philly fights since then, but they pale in comparison to Dawejko vs. Jennings. Plus, Dawejko beat Jennings in the amateurs, and that’s just one of several subplots in this matchup.”
“I’m very excited for this all-Philly battle, to get the opportunity to put on for my city,” Jennings said. “Hopefully, when this is a success, we’ll be able to bring boxing to the city on an even bigger scale. After I beat Joey Dawejko, I hope to one day fight for, and defend, the heavyweight title in Philadelphia.”
The rivals have come a long way since their amateur days when Dawejko defeated Jennings in Jennings’ third amateur fight.
“The judges said he won, but I really won,” Jennings said.
As for Dawejko, he remembers things differently.
“It was the last fight of my amateur career, and I know he felt he won,” Dawejko said. “I already knew I was turning pro. I didn’t care about the fight and it was an easy win. If he feels he got hosed in our amateur fight, I’m gonna down that motherfu**er in our pro fight.”
Jennings (22-2, 13 KOs), born in North Philadelphia, didn’t start boxing until December 2008, when he was 24 years old. His amateur career spanned only 17 fights, but he found success rather quickly as a pro. He won his first 19 bouts before challenging heavyweight world champion Wladimir Klitschko on April 25, 2015, at Madison Square Garden. Jennings gave Klitschko one of the toughest tests of his championship reign, ultimately dropping a unanimous decision. Following a seventh-round TKO loss to Luis Ortiz on Dec. 19, 2015, Jennings took a 20-month sabbatical from the ring. He signed with Top Rank and has won two fights in a row. In his last bout, on Feb. 16 in Reno, Nev., Jennings knocked down Akhror Muralimov five times en route to a third-round stoppage.
Dawejko (19-4-4, 11 KOs) is riding a seven-fight unbeaten streak dating back to May 8, 2015, when he lost a unanimous decision to Amir Mansour. He is no stranger to Philadelphia crowds, having fought there 10 times as a pro. In his last bout, on Dec. 1, he beat the previously undefeated Kelvin Nunez via eight-round decision to win the vacant WBC FECARBOX belt.
Hart (23-1, 19 KOs) is a former amateur standout, winning the 2011 National Golden Gloves and U.S. National championships at 165 pounds. A 2012 U.S. Olympic alternate, Hart turned pro in 2012 and won his first 22 bouts prior to challenging Gilberto Ramirez for the WBO Super Middleweight title on Sept. 22, 2017. He fought valiantly that night, ultimately dropping a close unanimous decision. Hart last fought on the Ramirez-Habib Ahmed undercard on Feb. 3, knocking out Thomas Awimbono in the opening round. Against Nicholson (18-2, 17 KOs), he is facing one of the division’s most fearsome punchers.
Hart is trained by his father, Philadelphia boxing legend Eugene ‘Cyclone’ Hart.
“I’m very excited to fight in front of my hometown people,” Hart said. “My dad will definitely be there, and even more exciting is my daughter, Halo, will be there. She hasn’t been to a fight since 2014, so this night will be extra special.”
Nicholson, a native of Laurel, Md., turned pro in 2013 after going 110-15 in the amateur ranks. Two fights ago, on June 9, 2017, he dropped a hotly contested eight-round split decision to the undefeated Steve Rolls, but rebounded with a second-round stoppage of Josue Obando on Aug. 25. Nicholson has 10 first-round knockouts on his ledger and hopes to bring that power to the ring against Hart, the WBO’s top contender.
Magdaleno (25-0, 18 KOs), a southpaw from Las Vegas, won the world title with a unanimous decision over four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire on Nov. 5, 2016. Last April, he made quick work of Adeilson Dos Santos, stopping the Brazilian contender in the second round. He was scheduled to fight on Nov. 11, but an injury kept him out of action. Magdaleno, rested and recovered, looks forward to defending his title.
Magdaleno and Dogboe, however, are not strangers. The two sparred years ago in Las Vegas, with each man claiming to have gotten the better of the sessions. Come April 28, they will put their unblemished records on the line.
“I feel like this going to be a very exciting fight. I’m excited to be defending my title for the second time,” Magdaleno said. “All the fans are going to see a great fight from Jessie Magdaleno. I’m going to do things the fans have never seen from me. I have a great undefeated opponent in front of me. Someone’s ‘0’ has got to go, but mine isn’t going anywhere. I’m going to steal the show on April 28.”
Dogboe (18-0, 12 KOs), a 2012 Olympian from the fighting city of Accra, Ghana, won the interim WBO junior featherweight title on Jan. 6 in Accra, thrilling the hometown fans with a fifth-round TKO of former world title challenger Cesar Juarez. A sweeping left hook knocked Juarez down, and referee Tony Weeks stopped the fight. Dogboe has won four of his last five fights by knockout.