If you look at boxing today, the sport is dominated by the superstar names of the sport, with Mayweather and Pacquiao grabbing the headlines both inside and outside the ring. The hard working “prizefighters” seem to get overshadowed and sometimes forgotten despite their best efforts in the ring.
During my special “On The Ropes” spotlight series episode, I had a chance to speak with heavyweight Jason Gavern to discuss his recent upset win against boxing legend James Toney. Gavern talked about his involvement in the Prizefighter tournament and the fight with Toney that got him to the finals of the tournament. Additionally Jason talked about the current boxing landscape giving his thoughts on some of boxing’s biggest stars, such as Manny Pacquiao & Floyd Mayweather Jr. Here is what Jason Gavern had to say.
Jenna J: Going into your fight with James Toney, I’m sure you felt like he was the big name. When it got down to the score cards, did you think you were actually gonna get the decision?
Jason Gavern: Yeah, I did. If you go on YouTube, the fights are on there. Other than boxing, I’m a big entertainer, I love to feed off the crowd, I think the crowd feeds off me, and it was one of those fights where the crowd was unbelievable.
It was awesome, it was a really good time. I know with the name James Toney, they were probably leaning more towards him, giving him the victory because they want James Toney to be in the finals. But I outboxed him, I outworked him, I out hustled him, and the crowd very humbly loved me.
It was a great, great time, great experience and when the decision came up, the first judge had it a draw. I don’t know how you can have it a draw in a three round fight, but the other two had it 29-28. The ring announcer paused and there was like a 3-5 second pause, and I was just thinking, “give me the fight, give me the fight.” When they said me, it was awesome, it was a great feeling, very humbling.
Jenna: With the win against James Toney, you faced the very experienced Michael Sprott in the Prizefighter final. How do you think you did in that fight?
Gavern: With the fight with Michael Sprott, he won the first round, I won the second round. And the third round, again you can see the fight on YouTube, I injured my elbow in the last round and I really could not throw my right hand at all, so he easily won that last round.
If I was going to lose to anyone, it was definitely a pleasure to lose to Michael Sprott, cause like you said, he has all the experience in the world, he’s fought everybody, so it was a pleasure to share the ring with him as well. But the whole experience as a whole was a huge, huge humbling experience and I was very happy to be there.
Jenna: Now Jason, when you were fighting James Toney, he was 45 years old. A lot of people have been saying for a few years now that James should hang up the gloves because of the way he sounds outside the ring, and the way he performs in the ring. You having now fought this version of James Toney, do you think he should retire?
Gavern: Absolutely, I mean he a multi world champion in several different weight classes, when I was in camp with him years ago, he was sharp, he was still a James Toney, now he’s kind of slowed down, he is not as sharp as he use to be.
He came in shape, I think he was 219 pounds, so you got to give him credit for that, but you’re 45 years old, it’s time to hang up the gloves. Unfortunately for him, I think it’s all he knows, he even said after the fight, even though he lost that he’s still going to continue fighting.
That’s a sad thing to see because the name of James Toney, he’s almost an opponent for guys that are up and coming to beat a name like James Toney and have a huge name on your resume. I think he should differently hang em up, he’s done everything that he’s going to do, I don’t think he’s going to do anything more in the heavyweight division, he doesn’t have that style. So I wish him all the best, but yeah it would be best for him and his family for him to hang up the gloves.
Jenna: You having seen the Antonio Tarver fight, I’m sure there’s things that you see that maybe you can do more successfully than Mike Sheppard did. When you look at the fight, do you see Antonio Tarver as a beatable guy at this point?
Gavern: Yeah absolutely, he’s a beatable guy. Anybody’s a beatable guy at any certain time of the day, any day in their career. Whether Antonio Tarver was 10 years ago or today, he’s a beatable guy. I think he’s 45 years old, he’s making his comeback, he looked alright, but I think he’s definitely a beatable guy, especially now with his age and being out for a couple of years.
The ring rust is definitely there, he definitely looked pretty good against Michael Sheppard, but again, styles make fights. Win, lose or draw, whatever would happen at the end of the fight with Antonio Tarver, it would be a fan friendly fight. I think TV networks would be happy with it, so all around it’s a good fight, and for me it would be an honor to have a name like Antonio Tarver on my resume, win, lose or draw against him.
Jenna: Speaking of comebacks, the talk around boxing is the return of Manny Pacquiao, he came back and beat Brandon Rios by a wide 12 round decision. I’m curious, how good do you think it is for the sport that Manny Pacquiao is back, and what do you think is next for him?
Gavern: Manny Pacquiao looked great this past fight, like I said in this interview, styles make fights. Brandon Rios is a straight forward guy, pretty much a seek and destroy type of guy, so it fit Manny’s style and he got to showcase himself in that fight, and I think Manny’s still got the goods. Even his last fight when he got stopped, he was looking great up until that point, so Manny’s always had it.
Just cause you get stopped one fight doesn’t mean the world has to say “Manny’s gotta stop boxing.” I think he’s there, obviously the world wants to see Manny-Mayweather, that would be the money fight for everybody, it makes sense for everybody. I think at this fight he was definitely a top 5 pound for pound fighter in the world. It was a great comeback win for him.
Jenna: Now, after watching him, do you think he can actually compete with Mayweather?
Gavern: I don’t think 10 years ago he could beat Mayweather, Mayweather is Mayweather, no one is gonna beat him. I think he only way he gets beat is if he steps up in weight and somebody catches him and knocks him out or stops him, but I don’t think Manny beats Mayweather, he’s that good of a fighter. He’ll be pound for pound one of the greatest fighters ever when it comes down to it. I think Mayweather is awesome.