Promoter Frank Warren’s 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: I’m the only child but there’s 13 on my dad’s 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, who’s fantastically supportive of my career, and our little girl Daisey-May who’s 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. I’ve also got me security ‘badge’ so can work the doors.
Nickname: They used to call me ‘Chip’ 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? I’ve 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 ‘em all. They had to tell me not to keep stopping my opponents because I’d not get any bouts. I went to about 30 shows after that but couldn’t 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 Cowdell’s gym. Sparring with older lads, I started to learn a lot very quickly and before I knew it, I was ‘medicaled up’ and fighting for money. I do wish I’d 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, I’ve been managed and coached by Errol Johnson at his gym in Wednesbury. It’s a proper professional boxing gym and Errol’s arranged the matches that have got me to the position I’m in now. I’ve a lot to be grateful to him for. I’m also sponsored by Fitness First in Halesowen.
What’s your training schedule? Which parts do you most and least enjoy? For this fight, I’ve taken six weeks off work to train. I’ll run four or five times a week and mix n match it; long slow plods, hill runs and sprints. Days I don’t run, I do bleep tests and a lot of swimming – minimum of a mile – at The Village Hotel who give me a free pass.
I train at Errol’s 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...We’ve 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 you’re training really hard two times a day. But you just have to grit your teeth.
Describe your style? What are your best qualities? I’m a pressure fighter who works better off the front foot. I’m working hard on improving my technique and sharpness but my best attribute is probably that I’m very strong and hard to move. It’s a natural thing. I don’t 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. It’s 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 you’ve shared a ring with? Probably sparring ‘Macca’ (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 Birmingham’s former world amateur champion for the British title. You’ll enter as a wide underdog. Why are you confident that you can cause an upset?
Frankie’s a nice lad and I’ve a lot of respect for him as a fighter. I’m 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. Frank’s got a lovely amateur style but he’s still got a lot of that amateur in him.
We’ll have to see how he responds when I pressure him. I’ll not just be walking forward. It’ll be thoughtful. For a welter, he’ll find I’m really strong. That’ll be my big advantage. Also, though it’s a derby, Walsall is my side of town and I’ve already shifted over 250 tickets. Being underdog inspires me.
All time favourite fighter: It’s 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 ‘em. He threw combinations with real venom and had natural power. He was a ‘Badass’!
All time favourite fight: Probably Tyson-Berbick.
Which current match would you most like to see made? I’d 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. I’ll eat little and often, jacket taters....and I might go for a little walk.
Once I arrive at the show, I’ll watch the other fights if I’m on a bit later. Once the gloves are on, my adrenalin kicks in, even more so if I’m facing a class opponent. I like to get a good sweat on, on the pads, then it’s off to work.
Entrance music: For the last couple, I’ve come in to ‘Champion’ 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. They’re going well at the minute.
Read: I read a lot of boxer’s autobiographies...Ricky Hatton, Joe Calzaghe. Average people who believed in themselves and achieved. They inspire me.
Music: I like to run to R ‘n’ B, hip hop and a bit of speed garage.
Films/TV: I like the gangster films like ‘Casino’ and stuff with 50 Cent and ‘Biggie’. I don’t watch much tele, just boxing DVDs.
Aspiration in life: After I retire, to get a local gym going and train up and coming kids. There’s 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 I’d like to help out others.
Motto: Train Hard. Keep Focussed. Keep Positive.