In boxing, a star-driven sport, the search for the next big name is non-stop. It has intensified with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. saying that he will hang up his gloves after his next three fights.
Ann Wolfe, former women’s middleweight world champion, believes she has found the boxer who will bring the same thrills and chills to the ring as Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Robert Duran and Thomas Hearns. As a matter of fact he has the same build and freakish power at Hearns, who was known as “The Hitman.’’
Travell Mazion is an 18-year-old junior welterweight and Wolfe said he has more talent than any boxer she has worked with since she started training boxers. That’s a high compliment from Wolfe, who worked with former junior middleweight champion James Kirkland – one of the toughest boxers in the sport.
“He can flat out fight,’’ Wolfe said. “I know he’s going to be a champion. There’s no question about that, because I’ve been moulding him since he was seven years old. He’s come through my program since he was a kid.’’
Since turning pro last year, Mazion has had seven fights and all of them have ended in knockout. None of them have gone past three rounds. He was scheduled to fight against Antonio Sanchez (5-3-2, 2 KOs) in San Antonio on Friday night.
Mazion has a limited amateur career. He fought only 35 fights as an amateur because he missed three years in the sport due to a liver ailment that he developed when he was 11 years old.
At 6-foot-1, Mazion towers above most of his opponents and he uses that height to his advantage – forcing his opponents to lean in to try to land shots and then smashing them with a right hand that lands with the force of a sledgehammer.
You would think that his favorite punch would be that right hand, but it’s not.
“It’s the jab,’’ he said. “Because I can work behind it to land the right hand.’’
Mazion used to get into trouble at school because his mother, who was a single-parent, was working two jobs and couldn't really watch him. Wolfe said he came to her boxing program because he was getting into trouble at school. She took him in and has been helping him to stay out of trouble by teaching him discipline through boxing. She is in the process of legally adopting him, even though he’s 18 years old.
“I’m going to give him my last name,’’ she said. “Everybody needs to know that someone loves them and that they belong. And they need a last name that they can live up to. I’m going to give him my last name and he’s going to live up to it.’’
Wolfe is a task master – as both a parent and a trainer. She described the physical training that she puts Mazion through every day and it is gruelling.
“He has to run eight miles every day and it has to be under an hour,’’ she said. “He does it in sweat pants and a sweat shirt. We run on back roads, up hills, over rocks. Then we go back to the house and he has to do three hours of yard work, including cutting the grass with a push mower. I have 10 acres of land that we had to keep clear.’’
After that Mazion has to hit the gym for his boxing training, which means that he spars at least 12 rounds a day against men twice his age – all looking to tear his head off.
“We don’t call it sparring. We call it fighting,’’ Wolfe said. “Because we’re looking to knock you out and you’re looking to knock us out. We’re not looking for people who just want to dance around the ring and touch gloves.’’
Then Mazion has to teach a boxing class at Wolfe’s gym, usually the “Baby Box’’ class, which consists of 20-30 kids between the ages of four and 12.
He also has to wash dishes after each meal. And when he is in training for a fight he doesn’t have access to a cellphone, iPad or computer.
“I believe the sacrifice and discipline that I’m going through now will make me a great champion,’’ Mazion said.
But Wolfe has a greater purpose.
“I’m trying to make him into a man,’’ she said. “I believe it’s more important to be a man than to be a champion. I’m trying to make sure that he finishes high school without getting a major felony on his record.’’
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