ATLANTIC CITY - Middle Township light-heavyweight Chuck Mussachio hit Billy Bailey so hard and so often Saturday night that his knuckles were turning purple just minutes after co-trainer Bill Johnson unfurled the tape from Mussachio's hands.
"My hands aren't broken, but they're sore," Mussachio said. "He had a head like a brick."
The pain in his hands didn't slow him down, however. Mussachio (18-2-2, 5 KOs) turned in one of his most impressive performances, battering the durable Bailey (11-15, 4 KOs) for most of their eight-round bout en route to a unanimous decision at the Bally's Atlantic City Ballroom.
Judges Julie Lederman (79-72), John McKaie (78-73) and Ron McNair (78-73) all gave Mussachio a decisive victory, as did The Press (79-72).
The verdict produced loud cheers and chants of "Chuckie, Chuckie" from more than 100 fans who made the trek from Mussachio's hometown of Wildwood Crest. Mussachio, 32, dedicated the fight to the memory of his longtime friend, Wildwood native Adam Frantz, who died unexpectedly on May 16, 2011. A moment of silence was held in Frantz's honor before the bout.
"I'd really like to thank the fans for doing that for Adam and for cheering for me during the fight," Mussachio said. "Whenever I start to feel tired during a fight, I hear those cheers and that keeps me going."
The victory enabled Mussachio to erase the lingering frustration and disappointment from his last fight.
On Nov. 19, 2011, Mussachio moved up to cruiserweight to challenge USBA champion Garrett Wilson. Mussachio was ahead on two of the scorecards after 11 rounds before getting knocked out in the 12th.
"It felt good to get back in the win column tonight," Mussachio said. "It wasn't easy (against Bailey) by any means, but I felt like I did what I had to do."
Mussachio dominated the pace throughout the fight. Bailey, from Bakersfield, Calif., entered the bout known for his aggressive style and durability. Although he had lost nine of his last 10 bouts and three in a row, the 33-year-old had only been knocked down once in his previous 25 fights.
Mussachio scored a flash knockdown in the second round. While Bailey was clowning around, waving his right hand, Mussachio fired a left jab and straight right that forced Bailey to put his glove on the ground and receive a standing eight-count from referee Sammy Viruet.
Mussachio also connected with an uppercut in the fourth round that produced a cut on Bailey's left eyelid.
"I've fought a lot of guys and (Mussachio) is a solid fighter," Bailey said. "He caught me with some clean shots. I didn't expect him to have that kind of power."
In the main event, Philadelphia junior-middleweight Jamaal Davis (13-8-1, 6 KOs) rallied for an eight-round, majority decision over Eberto Medina (6-8-1, 1 KO).
On the undercard, Phoenix, Ariz., super-middleweight Roberto Yong (5-4, 4 KOs) earned an upset with a fourth-round TKO over Philadelphia fan favorite Fred Jenkins, Jr. (5-1, 2 KOs). Yong dropped Jenkins in the third and fourth rounds, respectively, prompting referee Earl Brown to stop the bout at the end of the fourth.
The best fight of the undercard saw Newark welterweight Ibrihim Shabazz (1-1-1) pick up his first victory with a four-round, unanimous decision over Miguel Corcino (3-3, 2 KOs), of Camden. Philadelphia light-heavyweight Todd Un-thank-May (4-0, 2 KOs) earned a four-round, unanimous decision over Louis Robinson (2-5-1, 1 KO), also of Philadelphia. Philadelphia junior-welterweight David Gonzalez (1-0) won his pro debut with a four-round, unanimous decision over Korey Pritchett (2-2), of Camden. Clarion, Pa. junior-welterweight Justin Johnson (3-3-3) won a four-round, split decision over Korey Sloane (2-4-1), of Philadelphia.
Punchlines: Boxing returns to Atlantic City on June 1, when Vineland promoter Diane Lee Fischer brings a card to Tropicana Casino and Resort. Atlantic City super-middleweights Antowyan Aikens (4-0, 1 KO) and Isiah Seldon (6-0, 3 KOs) are scheduled to fight in separate bouts on the undercard.
Atlantic City bantamweight Qa'id Muhammad (7-0, 6 KOs) and Atlantic City welterweight Anthony Young (4-0, 2 KOs) are slated to appear on a card at the Robert Treat Hotel in Newark on June 13.
Somers Point middleweight Patrick Majewski (18-1, 12 KOs) headlines a July 7 show at Bally's Atlantic City. He will face Cleveland native Chris Fitzpatrick (15-1, 6 KOs) for the vacant NABF title. Atlantic City lightweight Osnel Charles (9-3, 1 KO) will be on the undercard.
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