BY: Rich Quiñones
Travis Kauffman does not hesitate when asked about his plans for 2014, and his desire to get a crack at the title whenever or however it presents itself.
He looks to continue his climb up the WBA heavyweight rankings when he takes on last second replacement Jason Barnett in a slated eight-round affair for the World Boxing Union Intercontinential Heavyweight Championship Saturday night at the Santander Arena (formerly the Sovereign Center) when King’s Boxing presents “Ready to Rumble”.
The WBA #10 ranked contender, Kauffman (26-1) was slated to take on Manuel Quezada, but Quezada did not get his medical paper work turned in on time, which a frustrated Kauffman vented about.
“I am disappointed, of course, I mean you just need to get the paper work done and turned in, it is not hard, but it does not matter to me. I will fight anyone they put in front of me,” Kauffman told On “Q” Sports Tuesday.
The 28-year-old Kauffman has been on a tear of late, winning his last eight bouts, including making quick work of Stacy Frazier in September.
That bout lasted two rounds when Frazier did not come out for the third round.
“I broke his ribs in the second and hurt him, and he didn’t come out for the third,” said Kauffman.
Kauffman who has had conditioning issues in the past, believes that he is in the best shape of his life.
“My last fight against (Aaron) Lyons, you were there ringside, you saw it. I was 263 lbs. before the fight. I dropped around 30 pounds in five weeks during camp, to get down to 233 lbs. I was not holding any water and I was really fatigued and my energy was sapped, but he was a tough guy and I earned that one, I just had to outwork him, but I feel great now.”
Barnett comes into the bout with a 14-14 mark, but does posses knockout power and has floored several of his opponents with body shots, something that Kauffman is fully aware of.
“I know he is durable and I worked on some different things over the last several weeks. My game plan does not change, but I worked on my jab, my circular jab, so I am ready. I am going in there to win, to make a statement.”
Several years ago, Kauffman was a hot prospect who was going to shake up the heavyweight division, but a loss to Tony Grano in 2009 made many in boxing question his skills and commitment inside the ring.
“All I thought about was Tony Grano, Tony Grano this, Tony Grano that, and I just lost focused. I mean, years ago it was hey look at Travis Kauffman and then I lost and you know how that goes,” he added.
“But look, I am ready. The more active I am, the better I am going to get, I am more competitive now, for me to fight more often is the plan for 2014. I want to move forward and I will fight anyone.”
Kauffman is a not a boxer that looks ahead, but he when pressed about about a possible future opponent on his radar in 2014, he quickly gave one name.
“Andy Ruiz Jr., I would love to fight that guy. Look what he just did, I think it would make a good fight, I would fight Ruiz.”
Ruiz Jr. easily dispatched Tor Hamer for the WBC Inter-Continental heavyweight title and the vacant NABF heavyweight title last weekend.
The loss was so disconcerting that Hamer’s promoter Lou DiBella released his cient via twitter moments after the American heavyweight quit on the stool after the fourth-round of a short but entertaining bout against Ruiz Jr.
Kauffman could care less about how the fight ended. He is only concerned about boxing the best right now after Saturday.
“I will fight anyone. 2014 is a huge year for me,” Kauffman added.
“I believe I can put myself in position to contend for a title, it might take three of four fights, but that is what I am training for and working so hard towards.”
It starts Saturday night for Kauffman. If he can close out the year with a bang, he will position himself for at least four or so fights in 2014 making things very interesting going forward.
“I want to get four fights in 2014 and see what happens,” he concluded.
Editor’s Note: Saturday’s bout will be streamed on GFL.tv. For more information on how to order the fight, please go to http://www.gfl.tv/Events/Fight/Boxing/Reading_to_Rumble/2174 and follow me on twitter: @ https://twitter.com/RichQonQ