By Johnny Walker
Some boxing fans use the term “journeyman” in a pejorative sense, but American heavyweight veteran Jason “The Sensation” Gavern epitomizes all that is positive about the term.
Always game for a scrap–he fought up and coming Polish heavyweight Mariusz Wach on two days’ notice– and when properly prepared also able to surprise–such as in his draw in 2010 with rising heavyweight Johnathon Banks, a fight that most observers feel he won—Gavern, 35, is a heavyweight throwback, a blood and guts warrior.
Gavern (21-9-4, 10 KOs) takes on the unbeaten Russian giant and Klitschko brothers’ protege Alexander Ustinov (26-0, 20 KOs) this Thursday at the Sportpalace in Kharkov, Ukraine, for the vacant IBO Inter-Continental heavyweight title.
Gavern spoke to Boxing Insider last week from his home in Florida.
Jason Gavern on….
“I was a police officer in Scranton Pennsylvania for eight years. While I was a cop there was a guy in the city who was a professional boxer and a lot of guys always had something extra on the street, just to have…you know, karate…and so I took a couple of boxing lessons and two weeks later I had my first amateur fight.
“I lost my first seven fights and everyone was like, ‘What are you doing, you’re crazy!’ But I stuck with it. Two years later I was the number three in the country super-heavyweight, I won Golden Gloves, I won a lot of tournaments.
“I’ve been in it for awhile. I started late, I didn’t start until I was twenty.
“I think the whole police thing, every day my shift was from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon …. it’s not like going to an office job, you don’t know … you might go one day and it’s quiet all day, you might go another day and you got bank robberies and shootings and car chases.
“I’m not an adrenalin junkie [but] I like that style. I was a veteran, I was in the army. I’m not one to sit behind a desk.
“The boxing thing has been good to me so far.”
The “Journeyman” and/or “Gatekeeper” tag
“Actually it’s a honor for people to say, ‘Maybe he’s not a Class A fighter, or even B class, but he’s a good test for the upcoming guys.’ One thing about me, unfortunately on my part, it depends on which Jason Gavern shows up for the fight. I come in and shock a lot of people because when I am in shape, I do very well.”
The Johnathon Banks Fight
“I was just in camp with [Wladimir] Klitschko when he had his fight with Mormeck, and Tom Loefller, everybody from K2 was like, ‘Listen, you won that fight.’ I thought I won the fight. Even [Banks’] trainer [James Ali] Bashir, he [later] worked the corner with me , he was like, ‘Yeah, you won the fight.’
“I mean you can watch that fight ten times over, it wasn’t the prettiest fight, but it doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, I still thought I had the ‘W.’
“That’s the bad thing coming in as the opponent all the time, you’re always on the short end of the stick. It’s just crappy that there’s three judges, and your career is pretty much in their hands. It’s a political game.
“That’s the bad part about it.”
The Mariusz Wach fight (taken on 2 days’ notice)
“They (Wach’s team) were pulling me though the ringer. If I had 6-8 weeks to train for that fight, and came in at 100%, it would have been a huge difference in the fight. Not saying I would have won, but…I was fat and out of shape. [Wach’s] got a great jab and he knows how to use it, but that’s all he has. As soon as you take it away from him, he doesn’t know what to do. Hey, he beat me, I can’t say nothin’.”
The Klitschkos and Europe vs America
“Why do they [the Klitschkos] need the praise in America when they can sell out a 70-80,000 seat arena in a matter of days in Germany? The boxing game over in Europe compared to the boxing game in America is a whole different world, unless you’re Mayweather or Pacquiao or somebody like that.
“For a C and D class fighter, you can fight here in the States for $7000 and fight the same fight over there and get $20,000. So it’s like, OK, what do I do, do I stay in America where they treat you like garbage, or do I go over in Europe where they respect you and give you three times as much money?
“There are so many snakes in this game, especially in the States, man, it’s crazy.”
Alexander Ustinov compared to the Klitschkos
“Wlad and Ustinov are night and day fighters. Ustinov wouldn’t last two rounds with Wlad, unless he just ran the whole fight. Wlad is in a different class of his own — nobody in the next 5-6 years is gonna beat that guy. He’s unbelievable, he’s in a class of his own. But, Ustinov is a big … people see him and they’re like, ‘Oh man…’ They’re like a deer in the headlights. I think I’m gonna pressure him — try to do something he’s never seen before.
“I’m excited. I seem to have more of a fan-base over in Europe and Germany than in the States. K2 is always a great promotional company, very very professional.”