By Phil Doherty
If you ask most American boxing fans the names of the current top-ten heavyweights, some will mention the Klitschko brothers immediately, followed by…silence. The division’s visibility and popularity over the past decade has atrophied while other weight classes gained market share. It’s widely accepted this would all change with the emergence of an American heavyweight champion. At this point, many American fans would welcome an American challenger who could topple any of the fighters in the top-10 rankings.
One brave Florida-based fighter hopes to do just that tomorrow night in Russia. He is Jason “The Sensation” Gavern (21-9-4, 10 KO’s). Gavern tangles with the 6’8’’ Alexander Ustinov (26-0, 20 KOs) at the SportPalace in Kharkov, Ukraine on a Klitschko brothers’ K2 Promotions card for the vacant IBO InterContinental heavyweight belt. We caught up with Jason as he celebrated his 35th birthday and made final preparations for the big fight yesterday.
Jason, first off, how do you plan to defeat the 6’8” giant Alexander Ustinov in his own backyard?
I think that I am up to obviously a very tall challenge in Ustinov. It is always difficult to get a decision against someone when you are the opponent especially overseas when he is the main guy and you are being brought in as an opponent.
I have fought on K2 promoted shows before against Jonathan Banks for the NABF title. I beat him eight rounds to four, even nine rounds to three but at the end of the day we had a draw. Everyone knows that I won that fight so I am a little skeptical about getting a decision here. My team and I have a game plan and as long as I stay on course I think we will be ok.
You are often described as a “journeyman” fighter by the boxing press. How do you respond to that moniker?
I think that the phrase “journeyman” is an honor for me. Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson said it best: “I may not be the best fighter in the world, but I will fight all the best fighters in the world”. That has always been my mentality. If I am considered as a journeyman fighter, that has to be earned. I may not be the best heavyweight but I am good enough for people to have to be on point when they came and fought me because an upset is always in the realm of possibilities.
This boxing game has provided me with so many lifelong memories. I would not change anything for them. Well, maybe some bigger paydays! laughing
The heavyweight division continues to labor in a seemingly endless coma for most American fight fans. How realistic is it for them to expect an American champion in the next 5 years?
It is extremely humbling to me when I am watching TV here in the Ukraine or driving down the road seeing my face all over the place. I have such a larger fan base here in Europe than I do back in my own country. I think that the American heavyweight scene has obviously been out of the picture over the last 5 to 10 years now. Back in the Ali Frazier days, you can walk down the street and pretty much ask anyone who the heavyweight champion of the world is and they would know.
Try it today and tell me what happens.
I recently had the honor to spar with Vladimir Klitschko for his last fight with Jean Mormeck. After being in the ring with him for one sparring session my mind was made up that no one in the next 5-7 years will beat him. Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely some good heavyweights in the U S but he is in a class of his own.
The American people will most likely be waiting for a champion for some time.
Your last fight was a 6th-round TKO loss against Mariusz Wach. What did you learn from that loss?
My last fight with Wach was taken on two days’ notice. They called me on Thursday morning asking if I wanted the fight and by two in the afternoon I was on a plane headed to the fight. This was a fight for a WBC title and I just took it for the opportunity. I am getting old in this game and soon my ride will be over, so I need to take fights that would be very tough, but if I would win them it would put me in a great position. That was my mind set for that fight. I have huge heart and always put on a great show for the fans. That is one thing that is guaranteed and will never change about me.
Finally Jason, what does this fight mean for you and your career?
Every fight is important but when there are titles at stake and great opportunities waiting for you if you win, is it always important to fight like a champion. I definitely would like to have at least one payday before I leave this game. A win against Ustinov just might make that happen.
At the end of the day this fight is a reflection about all of the hard work that has been put in over the last 9 years of being a professional. The sacrifice that my wife has made for me to allow me to pursue my dream. She has truly been the rock behind me in the ups and the downs of this game. I am forever grateful to her for that and truly love her with all of my heart.
My two children Landon and Leaira who have been there since the beginning also are probably my biggest fans. I am so very proud of them. This fight is all about having fun and I pray that my hand will be raised at the end of it.
Thank you Jason, and Happy Birthday.Q&A:
Thank you sir.