by Ron Ross
Dec. 16, Roseland Ballroom, NYC — With a punishing, two-fisted onslaught, Dmitriy,”The Star of David” Salita turned a near travesty into his shining moment, the culmination of a glory-filled career. In a fight that almost wasn’t, as his originally scheduled opponent for the IBA welterweight championship of the world, Mike Anchondo, pulled out at the eleventh hour due to “illness,” a last minute replacement, veteran James Wayka of Shawano, Wisconsin, came to town to save the day … and the fight.
Salita, who had trained long and hard for what was originally a world title fight, shook hands with Wayka before the opening bell, but once that bell sounded he did not show his gratitude in a fitting manner.
After a relatively quiet, feel ‘em out first round, Dmitriy came out charging for the second round, blasting away at Wayka’s mid-section, causing him to wince and shudder as the relentless attack continued. Backing away, Wayka crumbled as a savage left hook sank into his solar plexus. Taking an eight-count, Wayka rose and tried to mount an attack of his own, but as he lowered his guard to ward off the body attack, Salita nailed him with a right cross to the jaw, dropping him for the second knockdown of the round. Wayka pulled himself up an the sound of the bell ending the round was probably his most enjoyable moment of the evening.
The reprieve was short-lived as Salita came tearing out for the third round. He dropped Wayka for the third time with another one of those air-sucking left hooks to the body. A game but badly beaten Wayka tried to fight back but a left hook-right cross combination dropped him for the fourth time and closed the show at 1:51 of the third round as his fans cheered their hero loud and long.
As glorious as the night was for Dmitriy and his followers, there was a cloud hanging over the festivities. The fight was downgraded from a world championship to the New York State Welterweight Championship because Wayka’s credentials did not qualify for recognition as a World Champion contender.
It was most unfortunate for Dmitriy that Mike Anchondo’s pulling out deprived him of the opportunity that he so rightfully deserved. Dmitriy was splendid, punching crisply and sharply, moving around a ring that belonged to him. He was a superb fighting machine but he must now upgrade the caliber of his opposition and achieve his goal: today New York, tomorrow the world!
Boxing aficionado Ron Ross is author of Bummy Davis vs. Murder, Inc.: The Rise and Fall of the Jewish Mafia and an Ill-Fated Prizefighter.