PROVIDENCE, R.I. – What may seem like insurmountable odds for most fighters might wind up playing into Jason Gavern’s favor Saturday night as the Florida-based heavyweight prepares for the opportunity of a lifetime.
The 34-year-old Gavern (21-8-4, 10 KOs), a Kissimmee, Fla., resident born in Harrisonburg, Va., will face undefeated Polish heavyweight Mariusz Wach (25-0, 13 KOs) of North Bergen, N.J., Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 for Wach’s World Boxing Council (WBC) International heavyweight title in the 12-round main event of “November Reign,” presented by Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports in association with Global Boxing and Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.
Wach was originally scheduled to face former world champion Oliver McCall in Saturday’s main event, but the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation was unable to license McCall, 46, so Gavern will answer the call on short notice, a trend he’s grown accustomed to in his professional career.
“That’s the norm for me,” Gavern said. “I’m the opponent in most of my fights. I get the call late, and they think they’ll walk through me because I’m coming on two- or three-day’s notice and I end up surprising everyone.
“That’s the plan this time, too. I’m blessed to have this opportunity. I’m really excited. I’m one or two meaningful wins away from being in the mix for a world title fight, and a win Saturday could put me in that position. I want to come up and put on a show for the crowd. I hope he’s expecting a fight. No matter what happens, he’ll know at the end of the day he was in a fight. I’m not coming to lay down.”
Gavern dealt with similar circumstances in two of his most notable fights, a split-decision win over Manuel Quezada in April of 2010 for the WBC Caribbean Boxing Federation heavyweight title and a draw against prospect Johnathon Banks – 24-1 at the time – a month later in Germany.
“I took those fights on two week’s notice,” Gavern said. “Wach has been in the gym, and he’s all over the internet having a steady training camp, so I know he’s in shape. The same thing happened with Banks. The only difference this time is it’s a couple of days instead, but I stay in the gym on a full-time basis, so I’m always ready. I’m excited. I’m looking to seize this opportunity.”
“Jason is a very experience fighter setting himself up for a shot at a world title,” said Gavern’s manager, Tom Hickey. “We’re looking forward to winning this title and moving on to another major opportunity down the road.”
Trained by Walter Collazo, Gavern is ranked No. 29 in the WBC and No. 46 in the International Boxing Organization (IBO). He recently moved to Orlando, where he began working with Josh Aguilar, but Aguilar will be in Hollywood, Fla., this weekend working the corner of Puerto Rican cruiserweight Francisco Palacios, so Gavern will reunite with Collazo on Saturday at Mohegan Sun.
“Walter and I have been together for five years, so we know each other well,” Gavern said. “He knows what I’m thinking in that ring. That’s another reason why I’m excited. My dad is coming, my old corner people are coming – what better way to celebrate this homecoming than by winning a title?”
Wach’s greatest asset is his height; at 6-foot-7, the Polish heavyweight has a five-inch height advantage over the 6-foot-2 Gavern. Taller heavyweights such as world champions Wladimir Klitschko and Vitali Klitschko have dominated the division in recent years with their impenetrable reaches and powerful jabs, but Gavern believes he has the blueprint to chop down his undefeated opponent.
“It’s like a Mike Tyson or Joe Frazier style,” Gavern said in reference to the former heavyweight champions. “Obviously, everything for this guy is coming off his jab. You take away his jab, and you take away his whole game.
“I have to work my way inside and stay busy. I can’t stay on the outside or else he’ll beat my face off with the jab. That’s my plan. I won’t win a jabbing contest. There’s no possible way. I just need to apply a lot of pressure. Pressure bursts pipes, and the more pressure I put on him, the more he’ll fold in the later rounds.”
Four months after beating Derrick Findley at Mohegan Sun to capture the WBC U.S. National Boxing Council (USNBC) middleweight title, Elvin Ayala (24-5-1, 11 KOs) of New Haven will face veteran Juan Astorga (15-7-1, 10 KOs) of Thornton, Colo., in a 10-round non-title bout. Each of Astorga’s last four wins have come by knockout while Ayala has won four consecutive bouts dating back to February.
“November Reign” will also feature a 10-round North American Boxing Federation (NABF) and North American Boxing Organization (NABO) middleweight title bout between current NABO champion Patrick Majewski (17-0, 11 KOs) of Atlantic City, N.J., and challenger Jose Miguel Torres (22-5, 19 KOs) of Miami, Fla. Majewski won the NABO title with a unanimous-decision victory over Marcus Upshaw in June. Originally from Magangue, Colombia, the 32-year-old Torres has won two of his last three fights.
The undercard also includes Rick Dawson (4-0, 1 KO) of New Haven facing Queens native Borngod Washington (2-9) in a four-round super middleweight bout, in addition to the return of heavyweight Artur Szpilka (7-0, 5 KOs) of Wieliczka, Poland, who will battle heavyweight David Saulsberry (7-3, 7 KOs) of Greenville, Ky., in a six-round bout. New Haven’s Edwin Soto (7-0-1, 3 KOs) will face Diego Pereira (6-0, 2 KOs) of Pawtucket, R.I., in a six-round battle of unbeaten, and junior featherweight Josh Crespo (0-0-1) will battle newcomer Nate Green of New Haven in a four-round bout.
Cruiserweight Jose Torres (0-1) of Springfield, Mass., will face Francwa Russell of Chicago in a four-round bout in Russell’s pro debut; junior welterweight Christian Lao (2-1, 1 KO) of New Haven will face Antonio Chaves Fernandez (0-5) of Brockton, Mass., in a four-round bout; and Hartford welterweight Javier Flores (5-0, 5 KOs) will face Bryan Abraham (5-9-2, 5 KOs) of Schenectady, N.Y., in a six-round bout. Super featherweight Kamil Laszczyk (4-0, 3 KOs) of North Bergen will face Chris Montoya Jr. (2-4, 1 KO) of Salt Lake City in a four-round bout.
All $105 ringside tickets for “November Reign” are sold out, but tickets are still available at $65 and $40 and can be purchased by calling CES at 401.724.2253/2254 or Ticketmaster at 1.800.745.3000. Fans can also purchase tickets online at www.cesboxing.com , www.ticketmaster.com , or at the Mohegan Sun Box Office.