Lincoln, RI – The new Juiseppe Cusumano doesn’t like to look back too much at the old Juiseppe Cusumano. Juiseppe 2.0 is a leaner, stronger, more determined version of the old model, not the same Cusumano who barely lasted two minutes against Daniel Dubois in August.
Fight fans can expect fireworks Friday, June 24 at Ballys Twin River Lincoln Casino Resort when Cusumano (19-4, 17 KOs) unveils a never-before-seen rendition of himself in an eight-round bout against Brazilian heavyweight Irineu Beato Costa Junior at Summer Splash, presented by CES Boxing.
His long-awaited return to Ballys, where has hasn’t fought since 2019, caps a busy training camp in which the 6-foot-4 Cusumano spent the majority of time away from his residence in Danville, VA, and instead trained everywhere from Costa Rica and Tampa to Connecticut and New York.
Summer Splash also features Warwick, RI, resident Jaime “Hurricane” Clampitt battling Texas lightweight Miranda “El Alacrana” Reyes, plus the Ballys debut of unbeaten super middleweight and 6-foot-2 southpaw Francis Hogan of Weymouth, MA. Tickets are available at CESFights.com.
When Cusumano lost to Dubois on Showtime, a lopsided bout in which the “Sicilian Nightmare” hit the canvas three times before referee George Nichols stopped the fight, the 34-year-old heavyweight considered walking away from the sport. He had already begun thinking about life after boxing, using his payout from the Dubois fight to purchase a gym in anticipation of running his own fitness boxing courses.
But, in a plot twist straight out of Hollywood, Cusumano had a change of heart. He knew his performance against Dubois didn’t reflect who he was as a fighter or how much he had progressed under the guidance of promoter Jimmy Burchfield Sr. To quote a certain well-known fictional Italian boxer, there was “still some stuff in the basement.” He had to make one more run at not only competing for a world title, but showing boxing fans there’s more to him than what they saw that fateful night in August.
“I told Jimmy, ‘That’s not me,’” Cusumano said. “I had only six rounds of sparring before that fight. I was in out of the gym. I had a lot of personal issues going on. And the whole world saw me like that. It eats me alive.
“It would’ve been different if I was ready and I went through a war and lost a close fight, but I wasn’t mentally ready – or really ready in any regard. I’ve got to get back on Showtime and show what I really have in my blood and in my heart.
“I won’t be a happy man if I don’t do what I’ve got to do. Then I’ll sit back and say, ‘Oh, I could’ve done that, but I didn’t.’ At least now if anything happens in my career that messes me up, I’ll know I gave it all I’ve got. No regrets.”
After taking some time off to recover and reflect on his mistakes – and pray, Cusumano said – he received a call from the manager of unbeaten Chinese heavyweight Zhilei Zhang inviting him to spar for two weeks in New Jersey. That turned into a three-week stay with Zhang’s camp in Tampa, this time with Cusumano participating in every minute of every workout, not just the sparring sessions.
“As soon as I finished camp there, I knew I didn’t want to go back home,” Cusumano said.
As luck would have it, he then received a call from an associate in Costa Rica inviting him to fly south for a makeshift “boot camp” training in the jungles and mountains, often running eight miles a day in brutal conditions.
“The training I did there was unbelievable,” Cusumano said. “It got me out of my comfort zone – way out – and it felt to me like when I got past that zone, I got lost. Now you’re in a different world and you’re still pushing. That’s what you need in fights. You have to get out of your comfort zone.”
After Costa Rica, Cusumano reached out to his promoter, who then set him up at Champs Boxing & Fitness in Danbury, CT, under the guidance of coach Dave McDonough. Cusumano has been at Champs for the last four weeks, traveling back and forth to New York to spar with the likes of WBO world light heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr. and Connecticut heavyweight Cassius Chaney.
“I’m really proud of myself,” Cusumano said. “You have to make tough decisions in life. I could’ve stayed home, ran the gym, worked a 9-to-5, but I knew I had already made a name for myself and hadn’t even put 100% into it. I never traveled and got the work like I should have. I didn’t stay consistent. I went back home, fooled around, got sidetracked. Now I’m making the sacrifices necessary to achieve this dream.”
Cusumano still has family in Virginia, including his 12-year-old son, a budding southpaw baseball star who cranked three home runs in his last game. Being away from loved ones is difficult, but Cusumano knows if he doesn’t give it his all now, he’ll regret it later in life. This is the version of himself he always dreamt he could be.
“This is what I needed. I needed to be around boxing and be around good sparring. That’s what I was missing,” Cusumano said. “Now, if I get a call and people need work, I’m there. That’s what I should have been doing all along.”