It will be the laborer against the school teacher when Richard Stewart, of New Castle, DE, boxes Chuck “The Professor” Mussachio, of Wildwood, NJ, in a scheduled eight-round light-heavyweight contest Friday evening, July 18, at the New Alhambra, Swanson and Ritner Streets in South Philadelphia, PA.
The Stewart-Mussachio fight is the co-feature to the eight round main event which matches a pair of unbeaten featherweights, Teon Kennedy, of Philadelphia, PA, and Thomas “K0” Snow, of Capitol Heights, MD.
CN8 will televise the card on a 24-hour delay basis to more than nine million homes from Maine to Virginia and Washington, DC.
Stewart, 32, has a 9-to-5 job with Joe Rizzo & Sons, a concrete company. “I’m a finisher—on the job and sometimes in the ring,” said Stewart, who is married with three kids: Kyle, 10; Marissa, 8; Summer, 7.
“I went to school for carpentry, but now I’m into concrete. I work full-time, not like some of these fighters who don’t work and can spend time in the gym all day while their managers pay their bills. I go to the gym after I’m finished working.”
Stewart is the older brother of former junior welterweight contender Mike “No Joke” Stewart. He also is the bigger brother, much bigger.
“I weighed 235 pounds when I turned pro in 2004,” he said. “I was too heavy and I did a lot of running to get the weight down. Believe it or not, when I fought in the amateurs my weight was 139. I had 34 amateur fights and I didn’t win a thing, no titles. We moved to Delaware from Tennessee when I was 13. I got into some trouble for gun charges. I ‘went away’ for four years.”
One year into his pro career, Stewart was down to 187 pounds for his seventh pro fight, a third-round knockout over Jason Burrell, of Philadelphia, PA. One year later, he was 175 for a six-round majority decision loss to Willie Williams, of Baltimore, MD.
After boxing an eight-round draw last fall with Jameel Wilson at The Spectrum in one of Philadelphia’s most brutal fight of 2007, Stewart was upset by Antonio Baker, of Fayetteville, NC, in a six-round fight.
“I was supposed to fight Andre Hemphill at 175,” Stewart said. “Three days before the fight, they told me Hemphill was ‘out’ and, that if I could make 168, I could fight Baker. I was 180 pounds when they called. The fight was December 8 and I needed Christmas money for my kids so I killed myself to get down to 169 but I didn’t have anything left by the time the fight started and I lost a decision.”
Now Stewart gets a chance to revive his career against Mussachio.
“I don’t know much about Mussachio,” he said. “People tell me he’s a runner. I hate runners, but the ring at the Alhambra is small and I will walk him down. I always put on a good show for the fans and I’ll fight anyone. When I started boxing, I was just doing it to stay in shape. Now, I’d like to see just how far I can go.”
Stewart, who is 14-5-2 (8), also has beaten Glenn Turner, of Philadelphia.
Mussachio, 28, teaches special education to seventh and eighth-grade students at Wildwood, NJ Middle School.
“The kids in class are mostly on my side,” he said. “They cheer for me to win. Of course, there are the punks who want to see me get beat up. Everyone remembers some teacher they had who they would have liked to have seen get beat up by someone. It’s the same with some of my students. Some of them would love to see me get beat up.”
Mussachio was the starting quarterback “on a .500 team” in his senior senior year at Wildwood High School and he also played center for the basketball team. After that, he went to Lock Haven University in Pennsylvania.
“I was a catcher in baseball from the time I was eight until I was about 15,” he said. “Those seven years took a toll on my legs. My dad had been an amateur boxer and he always had a heavy bag around the house. He suggested I try it. He’s been my manager and trainer ever since and we discuss all the fights and offers together.”
At Lock Haven, Mussachio was a two-time NCAA champion at 175 pounds in 2001 and 2002 and NCAA runner-up at 185 pounds in 1999 and 2000. “We competed against schools like Michigan, Penn State, Army, Navy, Air Force,” he said.
A pro since 2005, Mussachio is 11-0-1 (5). He drew in his last fight Feb. 15 against Zeferino Albino, of Philadelphia, at the Showboat Casino in Atlantic City.
“I hit him [Albino] with a right uppercut in the second round and hurt my hand,” Mussachio said. “Still, I thought I won the fight. One judge had it 59-55 for me and one had it 59-55 for the other guy. What’s up with that?”
In 12 fights as a pro, Mussachio has never fought outside New Jersey and only once outside the Atlantic City/Wildwood area.
“I’m a little anxious going to Philadelphia,” said Mussachio, who works weekends as a bartender in Wildwood. “I was offered this same fight a few months ago in Delaware, but I wasn’t interested in going into his backyard. At least Philly is neutral.
“Stewart is a throwback fighter. He’s hard-nosed and he comes at you from the opening bell. Very aggressive and he has a good punch. I’m gonna box and move. You better believe it!”
Tickets for the seven-bout card are priced at $40, $55 and $65. They are on sale at the offices of Peltz Boxing (215-765-0922) and also can be purchased online at www.peltzboxing.com.