Tough Career Decisions Made; Yusaf Mack Returns Home

Larry TornambeContributor ISeptember 20, 2008

Joey Eye Boxing Promotions lights up northeast Philadelphia’s National Guard Armory with two 10-round title fights and a stellar undercard this Friday.  After two years away from his hometown of Philadelphia, Yusaf Mack returns in style to defend his North American Boxing Association Light Heavyweight belt against fellow Philadelphian, Omar Pittman.   

They headline a card that also features an all-Phiily battle between Derek Ennis and Troy Browning in a junior middleweight regional title bout. 

Mack still lives in Philadelphia, but trains at the Combat Gym in Newark, New Jersey with trainer John Tandy.  Mack admits, “it was a tough decision” leaving Shuler’s Memorial Gym and trainer/manager, Percy Custus “about two years ago.”  Mack says he wanted to make a “move and Custus didn’t” after winning against Jose Juan Vasquez.  Mack sought other management asking “Percy to stay on as trainer, but he said no.” 

Mack, the former United States Boxing Association super middleweight champ, feels the most helpful change is his relocation to the light-heavyweight class.  Mack laments having to “take laxatives and drink prune juice to make ’68 (168 lbs), but now I am in better shape and I don’t have to do that to be at 175.”   

In June Rory Donadio, Mack's new manager, positioned him to win the vacant North American Boxing Association light-heavyweight belt on ESPN2.   This bout with Omar Pittman fell into his lap, “Omar called me out,” a surprised Mack told Bleacher Report.  “I am in better shape and getting tired is out of the question,” says Mack, referring to sparring sessions with Pittman a year ago. 

“Pittman is a Philly fighter, so he’ll come to fight,” Yusaf predicts, “but I am here to show I am still the King of Philly in my weight class.  I am not giving him the limelight.” 

Mack, currently ranked ninth in the World Boxing Association (WBA), smells the aroma of being on top.  The future holds a trip to Germany to fight in an elimination bout for the top WBA spot if he wins on Friday.  

Yusaf would also like to see room at the top made by Bernard Hopkins, Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver vacating the sport “and letting the young guys in.”  Mack is prepared to fight his way into that group and “would love a shot at Bernard, that’ll sell out in Philadelphia.”

While Mack (25-2-2 - 15 KO’s) seeks the top; Pittman (15-4-1 – 8 KO’s) looks to warm up his career after a loss, two narrow split decision wins and a draw over the past 18 months.  It is a worthy main event to the 10-round junior middleweight co-feature between Derek Ennis (15-2-1) and Troy Browning (20-2-1), which has 'Rugged Philly War' written all over the style match-up.  

Don Elbaum, the matchmaker, is sure the audience will also enjoy supporting bouts with Coy Evans, Joselito Collado, Jules Blackwell, Anthony Gatt and Olivia Fonseca.  Tickets will be available at the door of the National Guard Armory on Roosevelt Boulevard in Philadelphia, but if you’d rather get the ducats early contact Joey Eye Boxing at 267-304-9394 or 215 764-7412.  Bottom of the Sea on South Street and Next Level on Lancaster Avenue are also selling tickets.