It was a rather hot summer day when a sparring session between Travis Kauffman a relatively unknown heavyweight from Pennsylvania and top contender Chris Arreola broke out into hot and heavy action.
Punches flew and nobody backed down. It’s one of those moments where people present asked each other: “Who is that kid from the East Coast?”
Kauffman makes you notice.
Fighting out of Reading, Penn. the fighter known as GW Hope - yes that stands for the Great White Hope – has made believers out of the few who really know the game and now he gets a chance to prove it to the national audience.
Kauffman ((18-0, 15 KOs) is the main event on Friday when he clashes with another rising heavyweight Tony Grano (15-1-1, 12 KOs) at Chumash Casino. The fight will be televised on Showtime and is promoted by Gary Shaw Productions.
Is he hype or a true heavyweight prospect?
“He’s a very good prospect,” said Henry Ramirez, who trains Arreola and others contenders. “He has a good understanding of the basics and can box and bang when needed.”
Of course sparring is one thing and fighting inside a ring without headgear, with television cameras lit and fans screaming is a whole different world. But it’s a start especially when it comes against guys like Arreola, Hasim Rahman and others.
“I know sparring and fighting are two different things,” says Kauffman, who began boxing at a young age. “Sparring with those guys has taught me to relax and pick my shots instead of throwing unnecessary things.”
Recently, at Primm, Nevada, the Pennsylvania heavyweight faced an opponent with a pretty decent record. Once the bell rang it was obvious that Kauffman realized that he wielded the superior firepower and seemed to settle into a conservative attack. Then, with the suddenness of a rattlesnake, an overhand right crunched William Shahan to the floor and then Shahan was shockingly allowed to continue. Kauffman jumped on him immediately forcing the referee to save the fighter from undue punishment.
“I saw the opening. In this sport they don’t pay us for overtime,” said Kauffman who was planning to go the distance if necessary. “I’m not going to go for a shot if it's not there. I’m not going to blow my shots trying for a knockout unless it’s there.”
It’s the same with his boxing future. He’s not going to rant and rave about his own ability. He’s willing to show in the ring that he’s not just an undefeated hyped fighter with a white complexion. He’s a fighter and the world will know soon enough.
Right now the boxing world has a big question mark on his ability. Is he a slugger or is he a boxer?
“People don’t know I’ve been around the boxing game since I was nine,” said Kauffman, who was forced by his father to put on the gloves. “A lot of people don’t know there are not a lot of white heavyweight fighters that are slick like I am, that are versatile. I’m able to fight southpaw really smooth if something is not working out orthodox.”
Others have seen Kauffman do it in the ring and predict he will be one of the more talked about heavyweights.
“I think by the end of next year,” said Ramirez, who knows a thing or two about fast-rising heavyweight contenders. “He’s young, he’s only 24, so patience is the key.”
Kauffman knows doubters and critics will be ready to pounce on him should he trip.
“First, the people who don’t know me, they’re going to be critics and records don’t mean a thing,” says Kauffman who realizes the rest of his career beginning with this televised fight. “It’s the opportunity of a lifetime. Come Friday night I show the world and boxing fans.”
Kauffman’s future begins Friday night.
Who will win #HOPKINSKOVALEV