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On This Date (April 7, 1984): Mistretta retains crown

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Since May of 1999, the Times News Sports Department has featured an On This Date practically every day, highlighting an event that happened in the past. With the coronavirus putting a halt to sports locally and nationally, the On This Dates have been expanded to the stories that actually ran in the next day’s newspaper. Today’s On This Date story is from April 7, 1984).

By Ron Gower


Steve Mistretta of Palmerton used an unyielding, fast punching assault during the first two rounds on Saturday to defeat Mike Diaz of Allentown and retain the Lehigh Valley Featherweight Boxing Championship.

The bout was the main event of an eight-match amateur card sponsored by Ring 23, Lehigh Valley Old Time Boxers Association, Allentown, and held before a crowd of about 500 people in the Mountainville Memorial Gym.

Mistretta won by a unanimous decision over Diaz, in what was a return matchup between the two hard-hitting boxers. Last month, in a non-title fight in Easton, Diaz had narrowly outpointed Mistretta.

This time, though, Mistretta did his scoring early and then held on to gain the victory and keep the championship that he won three moths ago.

Mistretta was one of four local fighters on the card and the only one to come home with a victory. Mike Muniz and Al Shankenberger both lost by decisions, and heavyweight Bob Romig was knocked out in the first round.

Went According to Game Plan

Both Mistrettas said that everything went almost perfectly in accordance with their game plan.

Sonny, the boxer’s father and trainer, remarked “Steve tried for a knockout the first round, but we fell a little short. After the first round, I told him to take the second one big.”

Steve, 19, came very close to that first round knockout. However, Diaz proved both tough and gutsy and although his legs gelled, he refused to go down.

In the second round, Mistretta overwhelmed Diaz, punching him almost at will and refusing to ever take a back step. At one point, Mistretta backed Diaz into the ropes and pelted him with nine unanswered punches.

“I felt I had him hurt,” said Mistretta.

By the third round, Mistretta had spent most of his energy and had to be content to hold onto the lead he gained earlier.

Mistretta admitted, “I felt a little winded at the end.”

He said he trained hard for the fight but the furious overall pace had taken its toll energy-wise near the fight’s end.

Shankenberger was the minority on a split decision to Steve Augustine. The two boxers were very evenly matched and fought hard from the opening bell of round one to the closing bell of round three.

Muniz lost a slugfest against Jose Rivera of Allentown, with the judges giving the fight to Rivera by unanimous choice.

The fight generated a standing applause from the crowd due to the desire and intensity shown by both fighters. For nearly the entire duration, the two boxers stood toe-to-toe and refused to back a step.

Romig was outclassed in his fight against John Riley of Brook Meadow. Romig spent a lot of time against the ropes, taking hard combinations by Riley and not returning them. Romig landed some punches, but usually Riley returned the favor in duplicate.

At the end of the round, Riley had Romig in a neutral corner and managed to slip in a left hook, sending Romig face-down on the canvas with a thud. Immediately, referee Mike Mittman saw the condition of the Carbon Countian and declared a halt to the fight.

Serving as the ring announcer was nationally-famous Joe McHugh.

Steve Mistretta (left) is shown during a 1992 fight. Eight years earlier, Mistretta won the LV Featherwieght Championship. TIMES NEWS FILE PHOTO