Nobody Beats the Buzz
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Travis Kauffman relishes peace, quiet Deer Lake offers
Kauffman relishes peace, quiet Deer Lake offers
By Don Stewart
Reading, PA - Muhammad Ali loved the seclusion of Deer Lake. The former heavyweight champ used the fabled training camp there from 1972 until his last fight 10 years later.
Travis Kauffman loves it, too. The Reading heavyweight prospect enjoyed his three weeks at Deer Lake so much, in fact, that he didn't want to leave.
"It was incredible," the 23-year-old Kauffman said. "There's so much history there. It's an honor to be there, to be able to walk on the same grounds that Muhammad Ali walked on and know how many superstars have been there."
The first heavyweight to train at Deer Lake since Ali, Kauffman left the camp in time to catch a flight for Friday night's bout with late-sub William Shahan at Buffalo Bill's Star Arena in Primm, Nev.
The fight will air live as part of the "Friday Night Fights" show on ESPN2. Kauffman (17-0, 14 KOs) said he plans to return to Deer Lake the day after the fight.
"There's no TV, no Internet, very little phone service," said Kauffman's father and trainer, Marshall Kauffman, who also used the camp to prepare Kermit Cintron for his 2004 fight with Teddy Reid. "Most fighters can't handle that type of thing, in my opinion."
Marshall Kauffman said hall-of-fame trainer Lou Duva wanted to bring China's Xiaoping Zhang, an Olympic silver medalist last summer, to Deer Lake this week. Zhang backed out when he learned there are no televisions there.
Travis Kauffman craved the seclusion, however. He was miserable when he had to return to Reading one afternoon for an appointment.
"I wish I would have had more time up there," he said. "My mind frame was right. I had no distractions. When I came to Reading for a day, I truly hated it."
He seemed less fazed by the late opponent switch, which occurred early this week after original foe Victor Barragan (10-4) injured his hand.
Shahan (7-1, 6 KOs) is a 30-year-old West Virginian coming off a second-round KO loss to fringe contender Derric Rossy in November. He's 6-1, which isn't a stretch from the 5-10 Barragan.
"It could have been King Kong if they wanted to put him in there," said Kauffman, who stands 6-3. "I can adjust to any style. My amateur experience goes a long way with that. In amateur, you don't know who you're going to fight from one day to the next."
Kauffman already has the experience of fighting on television. He was admittedly nervous in December before stopping Malachy Farrell on Showtime's "Sho-Box" series in his TV debut.
"I got those TV jitters out of the way," he said.
If things go well Friday night for Kauffman, he'll return Aug. 28 on ESPN2 or in early September in a "Sho-Box" fight. The plan is to get Kauffman to 20-0 by the end of the year, then have him fight on HBO in early 2010.
"In my opinion, it's one step closer to being on the level of fighting on Showtime and HBO," Marshall Kauffman said. "It's one fight closer every time."
Which could mean a lot more time at Deer Lake. Marshall Kauffman is actually pursuing the possibility of purchasing the camp from its current owner, George Dillman.
"Training up there has been good for Travis," Marshall said. "He's in good shape. His spirits are good.
"He didn't want to leave. He wanted to stay up there because he loves it so much."
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