By Dan Emicus

06/09/13

"I do not, nor have I ever taken any fight just for a payday. I am a fighter and I love to fight. Even if I come into a fight on short notice, you can be for sure that I will be there to fight and leave all that I have inside of that squared circle. This is entertainment and the fans want to see a fight. They are not coming there to see someone take a knee in the first round just to collect a payday. Even if I know that I am not properly prepared for the fight, I will still fight you until the end." Jason Gavern in an exclusive interview:


DE: How did you get into boxing?  

JG: I was a police officer in Scranton Pennsylvania and I just wanted to have something extra on the street.  There was a guy who worked for the city who was a professional boxer.  Him and I got talking and he said to me "why dont you come down and take a few boxing lessons?"  I went down to the Irish Boxing Club and met with Gene Reed and took some lessons.  About 2 weeks later, I had my first amateur fight.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I just really enjoyed fighting, so I stuck with it.  

DE: Having achieved various accolades at regional and national level as an amateur, what were your goals when you turned professional?

JG: I really didn't have any goals when I turned pro.  Honestly, I really didn't even know what to expect.  I signed with Goossen Tutor Promotions right out of the amateurs.  It was really nice to have a company like them behind me because I was fortunate not to have to deal with things like selling tickets, or worrying about travel, making little money.  I know guys who fight on club shows for like $400.  I was very blessed not to have to deal with that part of the professional game thanks to Goossen Tutor.  I am very grateful to them for signing me right from the start.  I got to fight on television which was awesome.  I would fight on tv and go back to the police department and all of the guys thought that it was the coolest thing.  It was really a fun time for me getting to experience these things.    

DE: Whenever you take a fight at short notice, what kind of things do you try to work on within a short space of time?

JG: It is really difficult to work on things within a short amount of time.  If it was that easy, then the top guys would just have a camp for only a week or two.  It takes a solid 8 week camp to really get your craft down to where you want it.  I am always in the gym staying active, staying in some kind of shape.  But there is a huge difference in training just to stay busy or training for a fight. It is two totally different worlds.  When I do get a call for a fight on short notice, normally I just run a lot more often.  You're really not going to pick anything up boxing wise, so I just try to get my cardio a little better for the fight.  

DE: What are some of the shortest notice fights you've had?

JG: Well, I have no manager and no promoter right now.  I make all of my own phone calls and try to get on shows, but it is very difficult because if the promoter of the show doesn't have you signed or has some type of financial gain with you, then he doesn't want you on the show.  Why would he spend money for someone to fight and get a win if he isn't going to get that money back and then some?  So in this case, I get phone calls from managers with mainly 3-4 days notice.  I fought in Hong Kong on 3 days notice against a guy named Lucas Browne.   I flew something like 22 hours, landed on a Sunday, had the weigh-ins on Monday, and fought on Tuesday.    Last month, I fought Amir Mansour on 1 days notice.  They called me on a Wednesday, I flew there on a Thursday, and I fought him on Friday night.  That is the only reason why I have picked up so many loses lately.  I am coming off of 7 loses in a row now.  The only 2 fight that I was able to train for out of my last 7 was Steve Cunningham, where I lost a 10 round decison, and my last fight with Oleg Maskaev which I won but they gave him the decision.  Both of those fights I trained a solid 3 weeks for.  I haven't had the luxury on knowing 6-8 weeks out that I have a fight coming up. 

DE: How would you rate your recent performance in the tightly contested encounter with Oleg Maskaev? Did he still have some of that power that once made him a force to be reckoned with?

JG: I was a sparring partner about 5 years ago for Oleg in West Palm Beach, Fl. for a fight that he had coming up.  I knew then of his power.  So in my mind, I was going to be very cautious in the first few rounds just to see how much power that he still had.  I was very surprised that he really didn't have much power as he did 5 years ago.  He never hurt me during the fight with any punches.  I was very happy with my performance.  I trained only 3 weeks for this fight and I went 10 rounds with the former WBC Heavyweight champion of the world.  To me that says alot.  He really didn't even hit me much at all.  It is now Thursday, May 30th and the fight was just 4 nights ago.  I am already back to work in the gym and I am feeling great.  He didn't do anything to me to make me think that he has a chance to make any kind of impact now in the heavyweight division. 

DE: Would you say journeymen and gatekeepers are under-appreciated in the sport?

JG: I think that journeymen and gatekeepers are necessary in boxing.  Normally us gatekeepers have either fought champions, or at least have had some type of title. We go from fight to fight with everything against us. We are always brought in as the opponent and pretty much unless we knock the guy out, we will never get the win.  It doesn't matter how we looked in the fight or how much we beat our opponent.  Unless he is asleep on the canvas, we will lose the fight!  We are definitely underpaid as well.  You are always getting low balled for fights.  If I'm coming into a fight against a former world champion in the main event on television, don't you think that I should get paid pretty good?  Well that is never the case.  I deserve to make a decent payday being brought halfway around the world pretty much as a sacraficial lamb.  And then you only get called at the last minute! Give me 6-8 solid weeks to train to fight your guy and let's see what happens.

DE: Whenever you are brought in as "the opponent," does it usually feel like the result will go against you no matter what, unless you're able to force a stoppage?

JG: Absolutely!  We know that we are coming there to lose.  You simply will not get a fair chance to win a decision as an opponent.  Especially overseas.  My fight with Oleg Maskaev was pretty close.  I thought that I definitely won, as did many of the people at the fight and many sports writers.  The referee was against me right from the start.  He was constantly telling me not to do things that Oleg was doing to me the whole fight! So I am pretty much fighting 2 different people in one fight.  I even said to the ref in the beginning of the 3rd round to just let me fight. Watch the video.  You can hear it very clearly.   He was harassing me.  It was crazy.  They wanted Oleg to win the fight period by any means necessary.  The ref against me, the judges against me.  One of the judges had the fight scored 98-90.  Is that even possible in a competitive 10 round fight?  I feel cheated out of the win.  I trained very hard and sacraficed a lot of time away from my family just to have the fight stolen from me.  It is not fair.  But, I continue to do it.  I could stop at any time but I choose to continue my boxing career.  

I want to mention one more fight which is a perfect example of being brought in as an opponent and having to pretty much kill the guy to get the victory.  On May 29, 2010, I fought Johnathon Banks on A K2 promoted card in Germany.  The fight was for his NABF title and I was brought in as the opponent.  Johnathon is obviously promoted by K2 Promotions.  We were the main event on the card and obviously Johnathon was being showcased.  I beat him by 10 rounds to 2, maybe 9-3.  at the end of the night the judges gave us a draw.  Before the decision was announced at the end of the fight, it was taking a long time to finally hear the decision.  That is never a good sign for you as the opponent.   Johnathon and his trainer said that they were going to give me the fight that I deserved the win.  Johnathon might be better than me 364 days out of the year, but on that one night I was definitely the better man.  I should have gotten that decision.  I earned it!

DE: No matter who you're in the ring with, you always come forward. Do you pride yourself in doing your part to ensure that your fights are crowd-pleasing?

JG: I do not, nor have I ever taken any fight just for a payday.  I am a fighter and I love to fight.  Even if I come into a fight on short notice, You can be for sure that I will be there to fight and leave all that I have inside of that squared circle.  This is entertainment and the fans want to see a fight.  They are not coming there to see someone take a knee in the first round just to collect a payday.  Even if I know that I am not properly prepared for the fight, I will still fight you until the end.  If you watch my fights, most of the time like the case in Russia against Oleg Maskaev, Oleg won the fight on paper but I won with the crowd.  After the fight, I couldn't get into my dressing room because of the amount of people wanting autographs and pictures.  That is how I judge my performance.  If after the fight I have alot of people waiting for me, then I know that the crowd was pleased.  The fans are what make the sport.  If it wasn't for them, then we would not have boxing.  I am very grateful to all of my fans.  

DE: Over the years you have been a popular choice as a test for guys that have been looking to step up to world level. Why do you feel that the management of these boxers tend to look your way?

JG: I really don't know why I am a popular choice for these types of fighters.  I feel that they know that I come to fight each and everytime that I step into the ring.  They know that I am really going to test their guy in every aspect of their game.  I do feel that I am a world class fighter.  I mean I have fought all over the world on some of the biggest fight cards against the biggest opponents.  And I am still getting calls for fights overseas.  I never thought in the beginning of my career that I would be traveling like I am and being the gatekeeper that I am.  I have been truly blessed by God to still be able to get these fight calls and still being able to compete at this level and beating some of these guys.  I am still healthy, I am not beat up at all, I am pretty much injury free minus a few aches and pains but overall, I am still in pretty good shape and feel that I can still compete for a few more years. 

DE: You've shared the ring with a multitude of big names. Who would you say has been: The biggest puncher? The most technically sound? The most durable?

JG: Yes, it is true that I have been in the ring with pretty much every world champion over the past 5-7 years as a sparring partner, while I have also have fought most of the top rated contenders.  I am coming off of 7 loses in a row. Most of those fights were taken on very short notice, but I would step into the ring with any fighter in the world.  My last 7 opponents have a combined record of 115-11.  Please tell me what other heavyweight in the world is fighting opponents at this level?  115-11!  That's crazy.  I would say that the most technically sound fighter that I have ever fought was Mariusz Wach from Poland.  I fought him on 4 days notice and was out of shape for that fight.  He dropped me twice during the fight but I was never hurt.  I was TKO'd on my feet in the 6th round. The ref jumped in and stopped the fight after I took a big shot.  Funny after he fights me that he fights Klitschko for a Heavyweight championship.  From me to Klitschko?  I guess I must have some pull.  And, Wach tests positive for PEDs in the Klitschko fight.  He had to be on them with me and he still couldn't knock me out.  The biggest puncher I would have to say would be Dennis Boystov from Germany.  This fight is on You Tube for anyone who wants to see it.  I think I was knocked down like 5 times during the fight.  He kept knocking me down but I never stayed down.  I kept getting up.  I feel that I have tested all of these guys.  

DE: What have been some of your most enjoyable experiences throughout your career?

JG: The first thought that comes to my mind is being a sparring partner for Wladimir Klitschko for his fight with Jean Mormeck.  I was only there for 10 days and sparred with him like 6-8 rounds at a time.  I am not going to lie that I was terrified to get into the ring with him.  I don't think that I did my best in that camp, but I really hope that I can get back there again as a sparring partner.  

Another one that really sticks in my mind is winning the WBC Cabofe title from Manuel Quezada in California.  It was such an awesome feeling to hear Jimmy Lennon Jr. say "And the new!"  I was jumping around the ring like a big kid.  

Getting to meet some of the best boxers and trainers in the sport today.  Hall of fame category of people.  I never thought when starting my career in boxing that I would have traveled to the places that I have, meet the people that I have met.  Boxing have been so wonderful to me and my family.  Memories that will last a lifetime and things that I can sit down with my grandchildren and talk about. 

DE: How content are you with your boxing achievements?

JG: I am very content with my achievements.  I mean, for my story of being a police officer, to quitting the police force, just to fight full time.  My family being there from the first time that I ever put on a pair of boxing gloves, to traveling the world with me and supporting me in my fights.  My son, my father, my wife, my mother, my sister.  Every fight that I have had, my family has had with me.  They have been my backbone during my career.  I am very happy with my achievments.  

DE: Bryant Jennings, Malik Scott, and Deontay Wilder are obviously undefeated heavyweights from the USA who have been generating a lot of interest. From that list who do you think is the most likely to go on and contest world titles?

JG: You asked me a few questions ago that when I am brought in as an opponent, do I feel that I need to get a stoppage just to win the fight?  A prime example of this was Malik Scotts last fight against Glazkov.  Malik was being brought in as an opponent on a Main Events card.  The fight was a 10 round fight and Malik easily beat the guy.  8 rounds to 2 maybe 7 to 3.  This fight was on national television all over the United States and everyone had Malik easily winning the fight.  When the decision was announced, the fight was declared a draw.  Such a disgrace!  It doesn't matter if you are an undefeated fighter or a gatekeeper as myself, the fight can be taken away from you very easily.  The corruption in this sport is so unfair!  No one looked at the judges! No one held them accountable for their scores.  This boxing game is definitely corrupt.  

But to answer your question,  out of the fighters above that you mentioned, I think that Bryant Jennings and Malik Scott would most likely have the best chances at contesting for a world title.  Who has Wilder fought?  

DE: When you eventually hang up your gloves, do you intend to remain in boxing? 

JG: I would love to get into commentating.  I have seen the job that BJ Flores, Paulie Malinaggi, Andre Ward, and a few other fighters have done and they all have done such a great job.  I know that I would definitely do very well at this.  I actually had the honor to sit ringside and commentate for the last fight of Hector Camacho Sr.  It was at the Kissimmee Civic Center here in Florida and I had such a great time.  I don't have the connections to make this happen, so if you know of anyone who is looking for a sexy heavyweight to be a fun commentator, please let me know!

DE: Do you have any boxing-related regrets?

JG: No, I don't have any boxing related regrets.  I mean I wish that I had someone who really looked out for my best interests and moved me along the right way.  When I turned pro, I started off pretty good but I then started to fight hard opponents right away.  It was great to have this experience, but I wish that I could have gotten my wins up more and had more time to mature as a professional rather then just bein thrown right into the lion's den.  I truly believe that if I was moved the right way and had the right people behind me that I could have been put in a much better positon to fight for a world title and make more money.  But it's all good.  I am very happy with my accomplishments having pretty much managed my own career. 

DE: Do you have any boxing idols from past or present that you look up to and/or admire?

JG: I don't give the typical answer that alot of fighters do.  Ali, Tyson, Patterson, Frazier, etc.   I mean they are all great champions and yes I look up to them for paving the way for the rest of us, but I really like the underdogs.  The guy who fight his heart out when he isn't making the millions and no matter what, always puts on a great show for the fans. It's those guys who fight because they love it, not because they have to.  The guys who work during the day and train at night because their passion is boxing.  Guys like Emanuel Agustus and Arturo Gatti.   I really look up to anyone that steps into the ring and leaves  their heart and soul inside.  People in general, including all media and boxing writers have no idea what it takes to step into the ring and actually get punched in the face.  They can talk all that they want sitting behind their laptops, but until they ever step into the ring to actually have a fight, you really can't say much. 

DE: What kind of interests do you have outside of boxing?

JG: Outside of boxing it is all about church and family!  My wife is a church pastor and myself and my kids are very involved with our church also.  I am involved with our church youth group and help them out every Friday night.  I pretty much serve in church wherever there is a need.  It is such an awesome experience for me as a father to have my kids so involved in church the way that they are.  We are all truly blessed.

DE: A random fact about you that boxing fans probably don't already know?

JG: I am married for 16 years to my beautiful wife who I have known since we were 10 years old.  We met each other in church Sunday School class and she immediately fell head over heels for me.  Seriously, we grew up together and we got married at 18 years old.  We have two awesome kids.  Our daughter Leaira is 15 and our son Landon is 12.  We also just had a new addition tho the family. We just adopted a little 5 year old girl named Angelia.  She is such a blessing to our family and the kids adore her.  It has been a big adjustment, but so far so good.  We have been truly blessed to have her. 

DE: Final words?

JG: First, I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for watching over me throughout my career.  It is only through him that I stay healthy and I am still able to fight.  It has been a very long road form the start of my amateur career to now just having my 40th pro fight last week.  My wife has been my backbone throughout this journey.  She still supports me and I would not be able to do this without her.  My trainer Walter Collazo and I have been all over the world together.  I love that guy. Minus boxing, he is like a brother to me.