Travis Kauffman - American heavyweight carries quick hands, big heart

Heavyweights today don't wanna trade punches anymore. It's like they're afraid. If you knock me out, you knock me out, but atleast I know I went out on my shield in a war!" --- Travis Kauffman

By Vivek Wallace: Today's heavyweight division can be very deceptive. Most quickly take note of the fact that they're bigger and stronger, but rarely do fight fans get a bang that parallel the big bucks they're forced to shell out to watch them.. Months ago, promoter Frank Maloney stated: "We need a British or American heavyweight champion to ignite the division because it's dead with Eastern European fighters holding the titles". With the fundamentally sound, yet far-from-crowd-pleasing Eastern European champs still running the weight class, America continues the search for its next offering to throw into the mix. Anxious to fill that void is a man of many names.

Travis Kauffman (14-0, 11KO's) was the given name at birth, "beast" is the given name by those who have seen him in the ring, but to those who support him as he molds a potential legacy, "G.W. Hope" is perhaps the most appropriate of them all. Recently, I had the opportunity to talk with the heavyweight that one day plans to put America back on the map. In that 20 minute conversation there were some very intriguing comments, as well as a few hints that immediately put the division on notice. In a reflection of that conversation, here are a few notable excerpts of what he had to say:

On his ring pedigree - I wasn't initially into the sport much as a kid, so it was my Father [Marshall Kauffman -former trainer of Hasim Rahman and Kermit Cintron] who actually brought me to the sport. Aside from him, Steve Little (RIP) who many may remember in his fight against Michael Nunn was someone I really looked up to. He was an icon in Reading, Pennsylvania. He wasn't huge in the boxing world but in our city, everyone knew him and he was a great example, so I wanted to emmulate that in my own way.

On his heart - I never really feared anyone coming up in the ring or outside of it. If I was in a place and I knew something was about to break out, I went for the biggest guy in the crowd. If I was gonna get my a** kicked it wasn't gonna be against a little guy because the biggest one in the crowd was exactly where I was headed first. It gave me a rush and I knew that I was gonna have to 'bring it', so that's exactly what I did!

On his strengths as a boxer - Despite my KO percentage, I think my true strength is the fact that I'm a volume puncher. I throw a lot of punches and when I get you hurt, I look to get you out of there at that point. I like to stay busy in the ring because few heavyweights today can handle that type of pressure. The name Antonio Margarito comes up a lot when certain people speak of me based on my volume punching so that's definitely not a bad thing.

On the Klitschko's - I think Wladimir is an excellent fighter but extremely boring. All he does the whole fight is jab. Against Rahman, had he gone to the body once, he could have finished him off much quicker. He doesn't use his full capabilities to open up his arsenal. Vitali I think is amazing. He took 4 years off and was able to come back and beat the snot out of 'Samantha' Peter!

On David Haye - I think he's exciting, and very good, but I'd like to see him tested. He hasn't been hit flush on the chin yet. I wonder a little about his conditioning as well, but I expect him to get better. Miguel Cotto was once viewed as a fighter with a questionable chin but you see how things turned around when he went up in weight. It strengthened him and his chin was more durable, so I think it could be the same with Haye.

On today's American heavyweights - Eddie Chambers I think is really good, but lacks a killer instinct. Malik Scott I think is easily the most talented fighter I've ever seen but no one wants to watch him fight because he's the kinda guy that will hurt you but won't try to get you out of there either. Kevin Johnson has a good jab and is pretty talented but he's no puncher. I think the only one on the map today that will really make a push will be Arreola. If he stays healthy, focused, and conditioned, he has what it takes to really do some damage.

On where he sees himself in another 10-12 years - Retired from the sport after becoming a champion that held multiple belts. If I haven't made my way to the top by then, I'm not gonna do it, but I plan to invest properly and take control of my money situation so that I'm stable and don't need to stick around because I'm broke. From a legacy standpoint, I wanna be a name where people can look back and say, "Travis Kauffman was a beast", "he was this", "he was that". I want to accomplish some major things and let my name live on, not just in the sport, but outside of it as well. Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson were the best to ever do it and I respect those guys too much to ever compare myself to them, but I do want to accomplish enough to have my name mentioned in a similar circle and be appreciated the same.

As you can see, there's no shortage of confidence in Travis, and with every victory, that power gets greater and greater. None of us know if Kauffman will become that proverbial 'spark' to ignite the flame, but hearing him speak and watching him in the ring, none of us can deny he's a burner!

(Travis Kauffman will be back in action Friday, January 16th in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the Million Dollar Elm Casino against Ken Murphy)

Article posted on 14.01.2009

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