Promoter Frank Warrenís first show of 2013 features an exciting welterweight showdown between the British champion Frank Gavin making the first defence against challenger Jason Welborn at Walsall Town Hall on Friday 18th January, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437/Virgin Ch. 546).
Welborn, a Midlands Area Champion, speaks to boxing writer Glyn Evans about his background and preparations for the biggest fight of his career.
Name: Jason Welborn
Born: Sandwell Hospital, West Bromwich
Family background: Iím the only child but thereís 13 on my dadís side of the family and, after his parents died quite young, he brought up a lot of the younger ones so I had plenty of others around. I was brought up around Rowley Regis in the Black Country but I recently moved to Great Bridge with my partner Sarah, whoís fantastically supportive of my career, and our little girl Daisey-May whoís two.
Trade: I used to have my own landscaping business but, after the credit crunch kicked in, I gave it up to focus full-time on the boxing. Outside of fights, Wayne Downing, one of the coaches at our gym, sorts me out with a bit of scaffolding work. Iíve also got me security Ďbadgeí so can work the doors.
Nickname: They used to call me ĎChipí because when I first went to the gym as a young kid I was pretty fat.
What age did you become interested in boxing and why? Iíve had boxing gloves since I was six or seven. At school apparently I was always fighting so around the age of 10, 11 our dad took me to the Black Country Combat gym in Dudley to get the aggression out of me.
The coach there was Mick Wallerham, the world kick boxing champion. I had my first kick-boxing fight at eleven but got disqualified for not kicking enough!
After that a lad called Gary Winters started training me in boxing instead.
What do you recall of your amateur career? We were affiliated to the Priory Park ABC but trained elsewhere which caused a lot of arguments.† I had four fights around the age of 12 and won Ďem all. They had to tell me not to keep stopping my opponents because Iíd not get any bouts. I went to about 30 shows after that but couldnít get matched up so I drifted back into football for a couple of years.
At the age of about 16, I started back at the Warley ABC, under (coach) Johnny Nash. I think I had three with him, losing one. That was it. Just seven amateur fights over about eight years!
Why did you decide to turn pro when you did? I always had more of a pro style. Around the age of 18, I started going to Pat Cowdellís gym. Sparring with older lads, I started to learn a lot very quickly and before I knew it, I was Ďmedicaled upí and fighting for money. I do wish Iíd stayed amateur longer and had some proper coaching at a gym with proper facilities.
I had my first two fights with Pat but was weighing above middleweight. First one, I stopped Jamie Ambler inside two minutes but second time I was chucked in with Tyan Booth who was about a stone heavier than me on the night, way too big (Welborn was knocked out in round three, the only defeat on his card).
Shortly after, I took a break from boxing for a couple of years to set up a block paving business. When the credit crunch landed, I had to get the boxing gloves back out!
Tell us about your back up team: I was trained by Ronnie Brown in Dudley for two years but, since 2010, Iíve been managed and coached by Errol Johnson at his gym in Wednesbury. Itís a proper professional boxing gym and Errolís arranged the matches that have got me to the position Iím in now. Iíve a lot to be grateful to him for. Iím also sponsored by Fitness First in Halesowen.†
Whatís your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? For this fight, Iíve taken six weeks off work to train. Iíll run four or five times a week and mix n match it; long slow plods, hill runs and sprints. Days I donít run, I do bleep tests and a lot of swimming Ė minimum of a mile Ė at The Village Hotel who give me a free pass.
I train at Errolís boxing gym for a couple of hours on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday evenings and also Saturday mornings. I just do the normal stuff, skipping, bags, pads, circuits...Weíve a good little team and work on different things for every fight.
I most enjoy sparring and learning new techniques on the pads. I least enjoy dieting, especially when youíre training really hard two times a day. But you just have to grit your teeth.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? Iím a pressure fighter who works better off the front foot. Iím working hard on improving my technique and sharpness but my best attribute is probably that Iím very strong and hard to move. Itís a natural thing. I donít do hardly any weight training. I find it stiffens you up.
What specifically do you need to work on to fully optimise your potential as a fighter? Technique. Mastering different combinations. Itís more about developing my thinking now than improving myself physically.
I really want to make a good career from the boxing so I live the sport; constantly study videos to try to get my feet and hands perfect.
What have you found to be the biggest difference between the pro and amateur codes? Completely different sports. The amateurs just bounce around and tat-tat-tat. I never had that bouncy thing. I always planted my feet.
The pros is more about timing your shots and making sure every one that lands really counts.
Who is the best opponent that youíve shared a ring with? Probably sparring ĎMaccaí (ex British and Commonwealth middleweight challenger Darren McDermott). He was a lot heavier and pretty experienced. He was tall, had that long jab, was very strong at the weight and very awkward. We had really good wars. They liked using me cos I was one of the few who could take his shots and go toe-to-toe.
On January 18th at Walsall Town Hall, you challenge Birminghamís former world amateur champion for the British title. Youíll enter as a wide underdog. Why are you confident that you can cause an upset?
Frankieís a nice lad and Iíve a lot of respect for him as a fighter. Iím certainly not about to knock him or slag him but this is business.
I do some work for MAN Security and was working at the NIA for his pro debut. Frankís got a lovely amateur style but heís still got a lot of that amateur in him.
Weíll have to see how he responds when I pressure him. Iíll not just be walking forward. Itíll be thoughtful. For a welter, heíll find Iím really strong. Thatíll be my big advantage. Also, though itís a derby, Walsall is my side of town and Iíve already shifted over 250 tickets. Being underdog inspires me.
All time favourite fighter:† Itís got to be Tyson. I used to base myself on him when I was a kid. I loved the way he slipped the jab and bashed Ďem. He threw combinations with real venom and had natural power. He was a ĎBadassí!
All time favourite fight: Probably Tyson-Berbick.
Which current match would you most like to see made? Iíd have loved to have seen Tyson against one of our current heavyweights just to emphasise the difference in class.
What is your routine on fight day? I tend to be in my own little world, in the zone. Calm, focussed and relaxed. The fight will be on my mind all the time. You try to make sure everything comes together after all the hard work. Iíll eat little and often, jacket taters....and I might go for a little walk.
Once I arrive at the show, Iíll watch the other fights if Iím on a bit later. Once the gloves are on, my adrenalin kicks in, even more so if Iím facing a class opponent. I like to get a good sweat on, on the pads, then itís off to work.
Entrance music:† For the last couple, Iíve come in to ĎChampioní by Chris Brown. I like the lyrics.
What are your ambitions as a boxer? Since I was a young kid it was always my dream to fight for a world title. This British title shot is like a world title fight for me.
How do you relax? With my family. I take the baby to the Bulls, a Wacky Warehouse type thing. I also do a lot of swimming but boxing takes up most of my time.
Football team: I used to follow West Bromwich Albion. Theyíre going well at the minute.
Read: I read a lot of boxerís autobiographies...Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe. Average people who believed in themselves and achieved. They inspire me.
Music:† I like to run to R Ďní B, hip hop and a bit of speed garage.
Films/TV:† I like the gangster films like ĎCasinoí and stuff with 50 Cent and ĎBiggieí. I donít watch much tele, just boxing DVDs.
Aspiration in life: After I retire, to get a local gym going and train up and coming kids. Thereís a lot of drink and drug problems around this area and we need to give youngsters an option other than hanging around the parks. I know boxing helped keep me straight so Iíd like to help out others.
Motto:† Train Hard. Keep Focussed. Keep Positive.
Tags: Frankie Gavin , Jason Welborn