Talk about a fighting family the Bizzarro’s of Erie, PA, all eight of them fought professionally. Though none are still fighting Ernie with Bizzarro Promotions still promotes in Erie with two shows in 2017 and a total of eight since 2015.
The most well-known was Johnny Bizzarro, Sr., 55-11-2 (24) who fought for two world titles. The first against Filipino Flash Elorde, 67-18-2 in February of 1960 losing a 15 round decision for Elorde’s WBA & WBC World Super Featherweight title in Manila, PH.
Bizzarro lost his second bout but went on to win sixteen in a row after than before a draw with Tony Christy, 12-6. In his next fight he traveled to Philadelphia losing to Walter Wallace, 3-0, at the Cambria A.C. In his next fight in a re-match with Christy he came out victorious in his first eight rounder. In a rubber match he lost to Christy by split decision.
Bizzarro would win twelve in a row following this loss over such boxers as Freddie Martinovich, 11-1, Dick DiVeronica, 25-2, and Ike Chestnut, 37-18-6. In November of 1961 he went to Madison Square Garden losing to Jackie Kelly, 7-1-1. Just four weeks later back in Erie he defeated Kelly in a re-match. In 1962 he lost to journeyman Tommy Tibbs, 56-58-3, getting dropped in the eighth round of a ten rounder. The following month he defeated Tibbs by split decision.
In October of 1962 Bizzarro defeated former World Super Featherweight champion Harold Gomes, 51-6, by split decision. Gomes had lost his title to Elorde. Two fights later he lost to Elorde. In July of 1963 he wins minor title North American Lightweight Title defeating Paddy Read, 26-16, over 15 rounds. The following month he repeated the win over 10 rounds.
In August of 1963 Bizzarro substituted for Frankie Narvaez and defeated Sammy McSpadden, 22-0-1, of the UK, at Madison Square Garden. Two more wins and he was held to a draw by Hector Diaz, 14-6-4. He would lose to Kenny Lane, 77-11-2, earning Lane a world title fight with Carlos Ortiz WBA & WBC champ losing in San Juan, PR.
In June of 1964 Bizzarro would lose to Narvaez, 19-1-1, but defeat him in the rematch. Both fights were at Madison Square Garden. Four more wins and he lost to Narvaez in the rubber match. In his next match he defeated Gene Toran, 18-1, earning a title fight with Ortiz, 46-5-1, some nine months later. It would be the only time in Bizzarro’s career he would be stopped at the Civic Center in Pittsburgh. He was knocked down in the twelfth and the fight was stopped. He did quite well up until the stoppage behind by scores of 51-49, 52-50 and 50-49.
Several months later Bizzarro would go to San Juan, PR, losing to Narvaez in their fourth match. It would be two years in September of 1968 when Bizzarro came back for a final match defeating Larry Youngblood, 4-17-2. His final record was 55-11-2 with 24 stoppages. He was born in Marcianise, Italy. In 2016 he was inducted into the Pennsylvania Boxing Hall of Fame. He had passed away in December of 1998 at the age of 60. It was this writer’s pleasure in nominating Bizzarro. He fought from 1958-1968.
Lou Bizzarro, Sr., was ten years younger than his brother Johnny and also born in Italy. He would go onto win his first twenty-two fights earning a title fight with Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran, 55-1, for his WBA lightweight title. Bizzarro was dropped twice in the tenth and took a standing eight count. He was then knocked down twice in the fourteenth when the fight was stopped at 2:59 of the round by PR referee Waldemar Schmidt at the County Field House in Erie.
In the next four years Bizzarro would go onto win seven straight including in his fight after Duran defeating Dominick Monaco, 23-5-1, from Italy, before being knocked out by Norman Goins, 26-14-1, in 7 rounds in Erie. He would go onto win his last two fights with the last one in February of 1982. His final record was 31-2 (9). He is 69. He fought from 1964-1982.
The sons of both Johnny and Lou also fought. Welterweight Johnny “Boy”, Jr. was 38-9-3 (12). In August of 1993 he would defeat Charley “White Lightning” Brown, 29-6, for the IBO World welterweight title. A year later he would lose the title to Roger Mayweather, 50-10, over 12 rounds.
In May of 1996 he won the IBC World title defeating Roland Cummings, 22-16-2. He won his last four bouts retiring in January, of 2001, winning the vacant World Boxing Federation World Super lightweight title over Bruce Corby, 16-15, in Scranton, PA, over 12 rounds. He fought from 1983 to 2001.
Lou Bizzarro, Jr., 24-3 (2), win his first thirteen fights. He was defeated on a split decision to Scott DePompe, 21-2, at the Fernwood Resort, in Bushkill, PA, Pocono Mountains. He would go onto win his next five fights before losing to Frank Houghtaling, 15-7-5, for the IBC Americas Super lightweight title being stopped in the twelfth and final round at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, in Verona, NY.
Bizzarro would go onto win his next six fights including defeating Kevin Watts, 18-4, in November of 2003. In July of 2004 in his final bout he was stopped by Canadian Billy Irwin, 41-5, in the ninth round. He fought from 1998-2004.
Four other brothers all had less than ten fights. There were super lightweight Angelo, 8-3 (6) 1992-1994, light heavyweight Joe Louis, 4-1 (3) from 1984-1993, welterweight Paul, 3-0 (2) 1964-1965, and super featherweight Ernie, 1-0 (1) 2001.