The good news is Chuck 'The Professor' Mussachio is back, and looks better than ever at 175 pounds after his recent attempt to win the USBA cruiserweight title at the higher weight was unsuccessful. His return to the light heavyweight division in the co-main event at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Saturday, May 19, 2012 was a welcome crowd pleaser for the Wildwood native with local fans.
The bad news was Billy Bailey, his opponent, according to one trainer, had warmed up in his dressing room area in a most unique manner-sleeping under a table. Not that it mattered much. The 1902 song 'Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?' --later popularized by the late Bobby Darin-would have applied to Billy Bailey, a well-known tomato can who has lost 15 out his previous 18 bouts. After winning 7 of his first 8 bouts, Bailey, 33, now 14-15, was knocked out by middleweight contender Brandon Gonzalez in 2008. Things have not looked up for Bailey since, though he has gone the distance while taking frightful beatings in his last 14 losses.
In boxing, kickboxing or mixed martial arts, the term 'tomato can' or simply 'tomato' or 'can' is an idiom for a fighter with poor or diminished skills (at least when compared with the opponent they are placed in against), who may be considered an easy opponent to defeat, or a 'guaranteed win.' Fights with 'tomato cans' inflate the win totals of the professional fighters who fight them. In the least, some boxers like Billy Bailey have proven to an extent that some tomato can athletes are better than others-or are gritty survivors in their athletic endeavors.
Mussachio, now 18-2-2 (5), still holds the World Boxing Federation Light heavyweight belt he won from Anthony Ferrante at the Tropicana in Atlantic City in June 2010. In a strange irony, Ferrante won the vacant WBF belt by winning a 'decision' over Billy Bailey in South Philly Arena in July 2009.
During the first three rounds, Mussachio frequently shook his legs out and swung his arms wide at times, gestures which appeared to be an effort to shake off ring rust and get loose. Bailey, a one track fighter, came forward and ate Mussachio's jabs and power shots standing in front of him. Mussachio moved side to side, picked his openings.
In the second round, Mussachio landed a left hand lead which hit Bailey so hard that Bailey did a 360 ballet pirouette, sending the capacity crowd into laughter. Later in the round, Bailey walked into some vicious power shots to the head and wilted to the canvas. The fight should have been stopped right there, but in the tradition of Tex Cobb versus Cookie Wallace, Billy Bailey got up, and the crowd- enjoying the center-of-the ring massacre-continued to go back and forth for pizza, hot dogs, beer, soft drinks and snacks. Mussachio spent the rest of the night sadistically torturing his opponent, turning his hands purple in the process from landing so many unanswered blows on the target which refused to fall.
Noted cut man Joey Eye, working in the corner of Chuck Mussachio, had his hands in his pockets for most of this bout, his noted Q-Tips never leaving his jaw, his facial expression appearing perplexed at the length of this bout and having nothing to do.
Somehow Bailey stayed alive in this bout by landing an occasional counter body shot or jab to the jaw of Mussachio-on those rare occasions when Mussachio was not moving. Bailey also landed a rare flurry to the body when Mussachio wound up on the ropes for brief moments. Sadly, Bailey has no power, and he could not get inside.
Mussachio landed so many right hand leads and right-left combinations on Bailey, the only thing left when he was not landing was to engage in conversation inside the ring with his opponent to ask if he wanted more of a senseless beating. Amazingly, Bailey taunted Mussachio to hit him some more. Mussachio was glad to oblige.
Santa Claus could not have scored a round for Bailey, but somehow the judges did.
A true gentleman, Mussachio gave his opponent credit for something after the bout.
"I give him all the credit in the world. Billy Bailey's got a hard head. He was a little awkward. You fight to the level of your opponent. It's like sparring with an amateur. You never know what the guy is going to do. This was a good fight for me. I was satisfied with the level of performance. I feel much better fighting at 175 pounds."
In response to the quintessential question, Was Billy Bailey a tomato can tough guy?
"Yeah! I hit him all night and he wouldn't go," explained a bewildered Mussachio.
One bright spot for Mussachio: a moment of silence was observed before this bout for Mussachio's friend Adam Franz, a talented Wildwood guitarist musician who passed away in 2011. In the least, Mussachio fought for the memory of his friend.
Result: Chuck Mussachio UD8 Billy Bailey
Scoring: 79-72, 79-72 and 78-73 for Mussachio