Chuck “The Professor” Mussachio Gain’s Another Title Interview by Ken Hissner (Aug 27, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
The son of a former Philadelphia policeman, Chuck “The Professor” Mussachio entered Lock Haven University in 1999 and was the national NCAA runner-up that year and in 2000. In 2001 and 2002 he was the NCAA 185 pound champion. When he entered Northern Michigan University for his Master’s degree in education you would have thought his boxing career was over. In 2004 he entered the Olympic Trials losing a heart breaking decision in the 178 pound quarter-finals to Romell Rene 24-20 completing his amateur boxing career. But wait…………
Mussachio, with his dad, Al, in his corner at all times, would enter the professional ranks while holding down a teaching profession. The Mussachio’s would fight out of Wildwood, New Jersey, just south of Atlantic City where most of the action on the east coast happens.
Mussachio would win four bouts each in both 2005 and 2006. His closest was a majority decision over Philadelphia’s Andre Hemphill, 3-2, in Atlantic City. At the end of 2006 he put Tony Pope, 15-12-1, into retirement with a third round stoppage. He would do the same to Philadelphia’s Chandler Durham, 6-3-2, in 2007 in Whippany, NJ, by majority decision.
In Mussachio’s third fight in his hometown of Wildwood, he headlined, defeating Victor Paz, 9-4-1, by split decision in eight rounds. That was the first time this writer ever saw him fight. I knew of him from his NMU class and sparring mate, Dennis Hasson, from the Kensington section of Philadelphia, who is 10-0 as a professional himself. I’ve seen them spar and Mussachio’s dad said, “They know each other so well from hundreds of rounds of sparring.” Mussachio had a nose and hand injury plus a fever and still managed to edge a win over Paz that night.
In 2008 Mussachio was only given a draw against Philadelphia’s Zeferino Albino, 3-3, over six rounds in Atlantic City. Most of the press had Mussachio ahead. The second time this writer saw him he was making his Philadelphia debut and putting on a clinic defeating Delaware’s Richie Stewart, 14-5-2, at the New Alhambra, over eight rounds. The long reach of Mussachio’s jab kept Stewart at bay the entire fight.
In Mussachio’s next match he traveled to Hockessin, DE, against Maryland’s Willis Lockett, 10-6-4, and was held to a majority draw over eight rounds. One judge had him in front 79-73. Mussachio was quite disgusted with the decision. It would be eight months before he would fight again and it was against former WBA light middleweight champion Carl Daniels, 50-16-1. He put on a marvelous exhibition that night against Daniels easily taking the decision.
All good things sometimes have to come to an end. Mussachio traveled to Morgantown, WV, in August of 2009 for the biggest fight of his career meeting Tommy Karpency, 17-1-1, for the WBA Fedcentro light heavyweight title. It was the twelfth time for Karpency who is from the Pittsburgh area to be fighting in West Virginia. Mussachio would lose for the first time in his career by decision over ten rounds.
Mussachio was right back in Atlantic City three months later defeating North Jersey’s Bobby Rooney, 11-2-1, over eight rounds. He boxed well that night and Rooney had no answer for him. In March of this year a late substitute Richmond “White Tordado” Dalphone, 2-5-3, of Florida was brought in. He had been in with four unbeaten and five once beaten opponents. The rounds were reduced to six and it was a very competitive fight with Mussachio taking the decision.
The stage was set when somehow Dee Lee promotions were able to get North Philadelphia’s Tony “Boom Boom” Ferrante, 9-0, into Atlantic City to defend his World Boxing Foundation title. Two local Italians fighting one another and it lived up to the hype. Ferrante took the first round and then Mussachio took over fighting inside more than his trainer wanted him. There was a lot of pride at stake in this one with both fighters bringing in a lot of fans. With Mussachio seemingly coasting to a win there was a sudden turn around in the ninth round when Ferrante had Mussachio hurt. With one more round to go Mussachio used all his know how and experience to frustrate Ferrante by clinching after landing a couple of jabs and was certainly happy when the final bell rang. The decision was a formality but Mussachio took the World Boxing Foundation belt from Ferrante who was nice enough to give it to him “on loan”.
Blood was still running out of Mussachio’s nose in the dressing room while being assisted by his cut-man Joey Eye who was then going over to Ferrante’s dressing room next door and icing the swelling under his eye. Eye usually works with Ferrante too but he had to make a choice that night and picked the fighter he was working with the longest in Mussachio. “That was the toughest fight I have ever had,” said Mussachio. Nine days later Mussachio showed up at the Hyatt Regency in Philadelphia at another show carrying his newly won belt. He is one interesting individual to talk to as is his dad. He has fans on both sides of the Delaware River in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. He agreed to answer some questions about his career in the amateurs, professionals and as a special education teacher.
KH: Chuck you are one of the most approachable boxers that I know. You are always there for the press:
CM: I am blessed to be where I am and in the sport of boxing. I think it’s arrogant and stupid for athletes not to give time to the press. How else are people going to get to know you outside of the ring? The media helps athletes build a fan base.
KH: I know you were born in Philly before moving to Wildwood. When did you start your amateur career and where?
CM: I was born at Rollins Hospital in Philly but my parents moved to Wildwood. My dad was a policeman in Philly and thought it best to move out of the area to raise a family. I was a baseball catcher and my knees were shot by my freshman year. I was hanging out instead of playing other sports when my dad came to the playground and pulled me out and said “I don’t care if you take up ballet but you’re going to do something besides hanging out.” A friend of mine, Tony Gagliardo, was boxing at the Pleasantville gym, where Virgil Hill (former champ) trained, so my dad and I decided to check it out. I was instantly hooked and that’s where I trained for one year before my dad petitioned the city of Wildwood to get us a gym. They gave us a building that couldn’t be sold due to the conditions. We cleaned it up and used it until the roof blew off. We now train in Rio Grande (NJ) where Christine Rothwell runs the Apollo Boxing Club.
KH: At the 2004 Olympic trials you got into the quarter finals. How was that decision?
CM: I thought I won. I fought Rommel Rene and we were tied going into the last round. I don’t think he hit me with two punches and they gave it to him.
KH: You were able to get degrees from Lock Haven and Northern Michigan. How was it at NMU under Philadelphia’s Al Mitchell?
CM: I was trying to get into NMU through Ken Cox my coach at LH who was manager of the 1995-6 Olympic team and thought it would be a good idea. I had a fight coming up with Kevin Bell and was told “let’s see how you do in this fight”. I won and called Al and he said “I know all about it and you’re in.” There was no one around when I first got there, being it was Christmas break. I was home sick, bad, until the athletes started returning back to camp from their vacations. One of the first was Dennis Hasson and then Ray Robinson, both from Philly. We roomed together and have been friends since. (Both Hasson and Robinson are professionals now) They warned me about the intensity of the training there and the toughness that Al Mitchell required and, believe me, it lived up to every bit of it.
KH: You decided at some point in your career teaching and boxing was a heavy load to carry. When did you stop teaching and have you gone back to it?
CM: It wasn’t a heavy load but I was having problems with my certification and stopped teaching in 2008. I would eventually start working with kids again only this time as a guidance counselor. Now, with the financial crunch in the state of NJ, I am out of work again being low man in seniority.
KH: Throughout your professional career you have had some nose injuries. When did that start?
CM: Well, it’s always been a "problem." I'm Italian and somehow got blessed with a huge nose instead of a sweater vest (hairy back and chest). But it really went south when I was scheduled for a fight on July 14th in 2007. One week prior, I had finished sparring with heavyweight Tim Skolnik (went to NMU) and got in about five rounds. Darryl O’Mara who was a middleweight and worked out in the gym but had no fights hits me with an overhand right and moved my nose about an inch. I am glad my dad was there because he would have never believed it wasn’t Tim who did it. I had it broke again in my last fight with Tony Ferrante.
KH: I know when you were up at NMU you did quite a bit of sparring with Dennis Hasson. I know your married now but he said that when you two were at NMU you double-blind dated once and you said to him which one do you want and he said let them decide and you said but then who will be with you? Are you trying to tell me they both would pick you over handsome Hasson?
CM: (laughing) Dennis is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. It would be hard not to like him.
KH: After the Karpency fight, Bobby Rooney, from up-state New Jersey came to Atlantic City to fight you. He was tall and with an 11-2-1 record. Talk about that fight.
CM: I lost the first couple of rounds before I got myself together and let my jab take over. After the fight he said “your arms are so long you probably don’t bend over to tie your shoes”. He and his dad were real nice people.
KH: In his last fight, after he won, it was announced he dedicated it to his brother who had just passed away.
CM: I didn’t know that or I would have said something to him.
KH: All kidding aside, I know the two of you are good friends. Did you know Tony Ferrante before fighting him in your last fight and talk about the fight?
CM: No, I didn't know him before the fight which is why I couldn't understand why he made some cracks at the weigh-in. I am not into that but I played right along and let my temper take over. When I got to the podium I said something out of character how I was going to beat him that night. After the fight we hugged and complimented each other on our hard work. I really complimented him to the press after the fight but he had nothing good to say. I just think his comments were strictly out of frustration. My nose was broke but he had a large swelling on his eye that Joey Eye (cut man) was fixing. Joey is the best. I was in the best shape of my life for that fight mainly due to the incredible mitt work from Chazz Antanori, he's a white Roger Mayweather with those punch mitts. In addition to the mitt work, I also had great sparring with some talented local amateurs, Anthony Hindsley, Chazz Jenkins and Manny Rodriguez.
KH: You and Tony rocked the joint that night and I know your dad said afterwards you were offered a fight in Germany for the WBO Inter-Continental belt. I guess it would take a knockout to bring that title back to the US for I know Karpency went over there and lost?
CM: They offered us 36k before my fight with Ferrante. We called them after the fight and they said between 15 and 20k and finally got it down to 12k. We told them by the time we get there it will be 3k and if we win we will have to fight our way out of the place, so forget it. We also got a call from Poland but my nose needs more time to heal. Right now we're considering a fight with USBA Light Heavyweight Champ Otis Griffin.
KH: In your one appearance in Philly you defeated Richie Stewart. Are there any chances we will see you back there again?
CM: I would love too. I fought for Russell Peltz and have asked him but he said he has to take care of his own fighters. I completely understand where he's coming from with that. He was a pleasure to work with and hopefully one day we can work together again. It was like fighting in Philly is where it’s at. I run a boxing camp for kids 6-10 and showed some of my students the tape of the Stewart fight. They loved it and said it looked like an old time fight tape.
KH: I know a wife can get her way more often than not and that your mom keeps asking your dad to have you stop boxing. Has she ever seen you fight?
CM: My mom doesn’t ask us to stop now. In my senior year at LH she once came to a fight of mine and was standing on a chair with a video camera. After about thirty seconds she fell off the chair and hasn’t been to another one. My wife, on the other hand, understands that it a passion of mne and she supports me 100%. She's actually my toughest critic. There's no sugar coating with her.
KH: I saw you easily defeat the former light middleweight WBA champ Carl Daniels who also moved up and challenged Bernard Hopkins. What were your thoughts in fighting someone so experienced?
CM: It meant a lot. I had watched a tape of his and saw where he was stopped with a right uppercut. Being he is a southpaw I practiced it in sparring but could only land it once in the fight and he kind of acknowledged it as a good punch. He saw to it that it didn’t happen again. He was very crafty.
KH: In your lone loss against Tommy Karpency who is No. 12 in the WBA, what were your thoughts afterwards?
CM: My dad thought I either won or should have gotten a draw. In my opinion, he edged me. Not by much at all, but I feel as though he won. I got a head butt on my left eye in the third round and Joey Eye iced it up good but I was out of it for several rounds and know I lost them. He and his dad are a class act.
KH: You have won your last three fights and your dad has always been in your corner. He is one of the most likeable guys I have met in over 30 years around this business. You have one of the few father and son relationships that seem to work. Talk about him.
CM: My dad and my mom are my best friends. My dad is always in a good mood. He smiles all the time. Sometimes I get mad with him in the corner if things aren't right and I always feel like a jerk about it later.
KH: I know you have broken your share of heads in boxing but what has happened to all the hearts you broke when you recently got married?
CM: Not many, hahahaha. I have a wonderful wife in Delia. I had known her sister from the time I was about twelve. We never dated but were good friends. We made a pact that if we were not married by the age of 30, we would get married. I started dating Delia at 28. Her sister said I better hurry up and that I don’t have much time. At our wedding she said, laughing, that I broke her heart. Delia has my parents over for dinner sometimes but either her mother or my mother are constantly making meals for us. Not that I am complaining by any means though.
KH: You bring out a lot of your students to the fights. Talk about your kids.
CM: They are behind me 100%. They sometimes joke and say that I am going to get knocked out but at heart I know they are pulling for me. I try to bring one or two of them every fight into the dressing room when I am getting my hands wrapped and walk me to the ring. Afterwards they are there for me. It is a big thrill for them and me. I surely am going to miss them next year.
KH: What is being lined up for you in the future?
CM: I was hoping the nose would be healed by August but it may be October.
KH: When you enter the ring with that Sinatra type hat on to the recording “Come Fly with Me” us older guys love it. No rap. Have you been doing it since turning professional?
CM: My first fight it was “Fly Me to the Moon”. One other time by accident it was “Summer Winds” and all the rest of the time it’s “Come Fly with Me”. When my fans here that song they know I am making my ring entrance.
KH: In closing I want to thank you for being so approachable and being one of the good guys in the business along with your dad. Anything you want to yell out to your fans?
CM: To keep coming out to support me for I can’t make it without you.
Chuck is a very compassionate person and an intelligent one, as it was confirmed in my interview. His parents and wife are a blessing to him. It doesn’t always work out that way for those who deserve. I am glad to say that it’s a blessing to know Chuck and having followed most of his fights as a professional and from what Dennis Hasson has told me, Chuck is good people. After all he comes from a good blood line.
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