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“El Toro” in action this Thursday!

Story by David Robinett
Photo by Laura De La Torre

WBC #8 heavyweight contender Manuel “El Toro” Quezada (29-4, 18 KOs) faces off against veteran Jason “The Sensation” Gavern (18-7-3, 8 KOs) this Thursday at the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino in Lemoore, California.

Quezada, who is coming off a five and a half month layoff, looks to notch his 19th consecutive win and try to improve on his ranking. Gavern, a capable but inconsistent skilled journeyman, is looking to bounce back from losses against undefeated prospects in his last two bouts.

“The layoff wasn’t planned,” Quezada said. “It just kind of worked out that way. We were looking to get a big fight, but it didn’t happen. It’s okay though because for a while I was fighting regularly so it felt good to give my body a little rest. But I’m ready to get out there now.”

Quezada will also be fighting for the first time since 2008 without well-known trainer Joe Goossen in his corner.

“Nothing against Joe,” explained Quezada. “He was just real busy with [Edison] Miranda and [John] Molina so we went back to our old trainers for this fight and took everything Joe taught us from our previous fights. What I learned from Joe really helped me so I’m taking that in [to the fight] with what I have with my current trainers. We’re going to combine it and make it even better.”

Quezada has also made another significant change since his last fight, a ten-round decision over the rugged Nicolai Firtha back in October 2009. Quezada has handed over management of his career to an outside agency after serving as his own manager for several years.

“It’s really working out for me,” said Quezada. “The biggest advantage for me is that I don’t have to worry about anything but training and fighting. Fighting is all I have to worry about now and that’s all I ever wanted.”

Across the ring from Quezada will be the enigmatic Gavern, a talented boxer-puncher who showed promise early in his career with wins against B-level fighters such as Cisse Salif and Raphael Butler, and a draw against then-undefeated Travis Walker, but whose career appears to have settled into that of a durable opponent for up-and-coming prospects.

“I studied him a little bit and he’s a good, slick little boxer,” Quezada acknowledged. “He’s been in with a lot of good, big heavyweights and he’s a durable guy so I’m going in there looking to impose my will. I’m going to try and get my fight out there before he can establish his fight.”

Another difference in this fight for Quezada will be the fact that for only the second time in his last ten fights, he will be the heavier man in the ring.

“[Laughing] It’s weird but it seems like I’m always the smaller guy so this will be a little different. But I try and look at every fight the same, and I don’t take any fighter lightly, and I won’t take Jason Gavern lightly.”

Quezada also recognizes that at this stage of his career, fans want to see knockouts, but he’s just as satisfied going the distance.

“If you can get a good, flashy knockout, then great,” said the fighter. “But if you can’t then its good to get your work in and get more experience. But to me, either way is good. Honestly, I’d rather get those big, long, drag-out fights because when I do get in there with those tough contenders and champions, I’ll know I can do it.”

Despite the layoff and the recent changes outside of the ring, “El Toro” remains confident that he is on track for bigger fights if he can get past Gavern this Thursday.

“I plan to just keep on winning and moving up in the rankings. Hopefully this year I can get a crack at a top-10 opponent and get a shot at a world championship soon after that.”

Manuel Quezada vs. Jason Gavern is the main event of a five-bout card that is hosted by the Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino and promoted by Goossen-Tutor Promotions. Tickets are $225, $60, $40, $35 or $20 and are available at the Tachi Palace Gift Shop (866-4-PALACE or 559-924-7751). Doors open at 5p and the first bout is at 6p.