Gavern snaps Quezada's win streak!
Ringside by David Robinett
Photos by Laura De La Torre
Coming off consecutive uncompetitive losses to young prospects, heavyweight Jason “The Sensation” Gavern, (19-7-3, 8 KOs) was seriously contemplating retirement rather than finish out his career as a punching bag for talented up-and-comers.
“I was going to quit because I didn’t have the passion anymore,” admitted Gavern. “I looked to God to see what I should do and next thing I know I got three or four calls, including one for this fight.”
Turns out Gavern made the right decision, edging out WBC #8 heavyweight Manuel “El Toro” Quezada, (29-5, 18 KOs), and ending the local hero’s 18-fight winning streak in a close but well-received ten-round split decision, with scores 94-95, 95-94, 95-94, Thursday night at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California. Gavern also becomes the WBC’s Caribbean heavyweight champion, obtaining the mysterious belt that typically exchanges hands between Californians.
Heading into this fight, Quezada had begun to generate some buzz in the division and was angling for a potential eliminator or title shot, two or three more fights down the line. Gavern wasn’t expected to derail Quezada’s big plans.
“I wasn’t supposed to get this fight,” explained Gavern. “I lost my last two fights, and that’s why I think they picked me. They were thinking ‘Gavern’s done, he’s got nothing left’, but they didn’t know about the personal stuff I had been going through. I lost my last two fights because of my mental state, I wasn’t really ready for those fights, but this time I was prepared.”
In the first round however, it looked like business as usual for Quezada, whose style is not particularly active, but who has a knack for picking his spots and doing just enough to win rounds. While Gavern clearly had the faster hands, firing jabs and light right hands at the incoming Quezada, “El Toro” took the round with his heavier counterpunches in between Gavern’s two-fisted attack, particularly the right hook, which rocked Gavern on a couple of occasions.
The turning point in the fight came midway through round two, when an accidental clash of heads left Quezada cut and swollen over his right eye. Gavern was deducted a point under WBC rules, which provide that if only one fighter is injured as the result of an accidental headbutt, the uninjured fighter is deducted a point. The cut seemed to take some steam from Quezada and prompted Gavern to go toe-to-toe with the bigger puncher in the center of the ring. Gavern’s fast hands, punctuated by a textbook left uppercut, recaptured the momentum lost from the point deduction.
Gavern continued to be in control through the middle rounds, still getting hit by Quezada’s right hook but landing a higher volume of punches and avoiding most of Quezada’s bigger shots. In between exchanges, Gavern also engaged in his trademark clowning, jawing with the crowd and even finding time to wink at Fightnews ringside photographer Laura De la Torre.
“That’s me, that’s my relaxation in the ring,” explained Gavern. “The things I do, that’s just the entertainment factor. The crowd wants to remember you for something. I mean, I’m a good looking white heavyweight who has entertainment value and at the end of the day, this is my platform. I actually toned it down a lot for this fight, even my son was telling me, ‘Dad, don’t hot dog it in the ring!’”
Clowning or not, Gavern backed up his antics, knocking down Quezada in the sixth round with a straight left hand that was incorrectly ruled a slip, and managing to stay in control until the tenth round when a gutsy but exhausted Quezada dug deep to outland the equally exhausted Gavern. Quezada’s late charge was not enough though, as Gavern now finds himself in unexpected territory following the upset.
“I’m not saying I didn’t expect to win,” said Gavern. “But there wasn’t really a plan. Now we’re going to go back and sit down and really look at my career and see where its going to go.”
One thing that Gavern did not rule out was a rematch, although there was no rematch clause in the contract. “He [Quezada] gave me the opportunity, so I have to give him the opportunity back, it’s sportsmanship, it is what it is.”
In his dressing room, after the fight, Quezada also stated his desire for a rematch, and was already looking ahead to what he could improve on next time. “Definitely, I want a rematch. I think next time I can be a little busier, put my hands together more. I don’t like losing, but I think this [result] is going to get me even hungrier and better.”
Dallas Brushes Aside Trazancos
Junior welterweight prospect Mike Dallas, Jr., (13-0-1, 4 KOs), barely broke a sweat against knockout-prone Genaro Trazancos, (22-11-1, 13 KOs), scoring two easy knockdowns before referee Dan Snell waved the fight over at 2:51 of the first round of a scheduled eight-round contest.
Trazancos, a knockout victim six times in his last nine fights, was nearly knocked down in the opening minute from a Dallas jab, only to hit the deck moments later from another jab (yes, a jab). In Trazancos’ defense, Dallas did step into the jab that knocked him down, but it was apparent early on that this fight would end soon enough for the fans in attendance to grab a drink or hit the restroom before the start of the main event.
Trazancos rose on unsteady legs only to get rocked around the ring with a few more punches until Dallas ended the bout with a left-right-left combination to the head that crushed Trazancos onto the canvas, prompting the referee to stop the fight without a count. Dallas, a patient boxer-puncher not known for his power, has become heavier-handed in his recent fights and is a prospect to keep an eye on, provided he gets more meaningful work in the ring next time out.
Ruiz wins debut
Local standout amateur Mike Ruiz made an impressive debut against Jose Luis Mares, (0-3), earning a unanimous four-round decision by scores of 40-36 on all three scorecards. Ruiz, fighting at the bantamweight limit, was in control from the opening bell, landing two and three-punch combinations against the single-punch attach from the game, but limited, Mares.
Mares tried to press the action early with his jab and lead right hand, but in rounds one and two he was countered effectively by combinations to the head and body from Ruiz. In rounds three and four, with much of the fight drained from Mares, Ruiz became the aggressor, continuing his combination attack but initiating the action rather than counterpunching as he did earlier in the fight.
With the win, Ruiz looks to becomes another in a recent line of central California prospects to watch, along with the likes of Mike Dallas, Jr., and Eloy Perez.
In other action . . .
Paul Mendez, (4-1, 2 KOs), took a hard-fought split decision victory over previously unbeaten Tyrell Hendrix, (4-1-1, 2 KOs), by scores of 37-39, 39-37, 40-36, in a four-round super middleweight bout.
Jose Pacheco, (2-12-6, 0 KOs), continued his march of infamy through the lower weight divisions, providing some sparring for youngster Juan Tepoz, (4-2-1, 0 KOs) while losing 40-36 on all three judges scorecards in a four-round featherweight bout. Pacheco’s two wins came against the same winless opponent last year, but unlike Genaro Trazancos, at least Pacheco was able to withstand his opponent’s jab this night, so he lives to lose another day.
Rufino Serrano, (6-2, 0 KOs), scored a unanimous decision over Eder Peralta, (1-2, 1 KO), in a four-round super featherweight bout. Serrano won every round on the scorecards 40-35, punctuated by a knockdown in the final round.
The six-bout card was promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions in association with the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino.