Tevin Farmer: I believe I can beat anybody in the world
Tevin Farmer, one of boxing’s most improved fighters of the past few years, defends his NABF junior lightweight title for the first time when he meets Dardan Zenunaj on Friday in his hometown of Philadelphia at the 2300 Arena.
Although, Farmer (23-4-1, 5 knockouts) isn’t familiar with his Kosovo-born opponent his confidence entering their bout is sky high.
“Same approach as always, it’s just another fight, another opportunity to move forward and closer to a world title,” Farmer told RingTV.com. “I’ve never heard of him, I don’t know who he is. The first I heard about him was when they presented the fight to me and I said, ‘Let’s go.’ Same result.
“I believe I can beat anybody in the world. I believe I’m ready to face the elite and no matter what he brings, I have to get pass him and that’s my mindset. I actually don’t know what he brings to the table, but whatever he brings, I’ll be ready for it.
“I have a God given gift, you can make it better, you can’t teach it. He’ll have to deal with me, I’m the guy to beat. At one point I had to beat the guys, now I’m the guy to beat, they have to beat me now and I’m pretty sure he’s worried about me.”
The self-styled “American Idol” alludes to his earlier career struggles.
Farmer turned pro in early 2011 and was stopped in four rounds. Within 18 months his record stood an unremarkable 7-4-1, and he was coming off a stoppage loss to future world titleholder Jose Pedraza.
It was at that point things started to change for the better for the loquacious southpaw, who first took up boxing at 19 years old, and only had 16 amateur bouts. For much of his teens, Farmer played football.
“My loses were only a learning curve for me,” said the former Rite Aid employee. “I wasn’t taking boxing serious at all, I was barely in the gym. When I lost to Pedraza, I had to refocus and I knew I needed to change my life and since then it’s been history.”
Two key things that happened that helped Farmer improve leaps and bounds. Firstly, he began working with trainer Tino Rivas, while Russell Peltz helped guide his career. Secondly, in 2013 he was in camp with current WBC welterweight titlist Danny Garcia, the following year he was asked to spar with now WBO 130-pound belt-holder Vasyl Lomachenko.
“If I could stay in there with the best and it’s not just staying in there, we was going at it,” he said of his experience sparring Garcia and Lomachenko. “If I could stay in there with him with a little more experience I could do it with anybody. Mentally, it took me to a different level.
“In the beginning I didn’t have a trainer, I didn’t have a manager, it was just me. I wasn’t training with the trainers I have now. They got with me and I got on my winning streak, since then we’re 16-0 together.”
Currently, Farmer is on the cusp of a world title shot, he’s ranked by three of the big four sanctioning bodies, WBC (No. 3), IBF (No. 7) and WBO (No. 10), and believes the fight with Zenunaj to be a leg up to bigger and better things.
“I actually think it’s a big fight because defending my title will get me closer to world titles. Right now I’m ranked No. 3 by the WBC, so defending this title could push me to the No. 1 spot or possibly an eliminator bout.”
Recently, Farmer was in Monte Carlo where he witnessed stablemate Jason Sosa turn back the challenge of Stephen Smith. The experience showed Farmer what responsibilities go with being a world champion.
“It was lovely, I loved it,” he explained. “They treated us like gold out there. I went out there to get experience, it was a good experience.
“It opened my eyes more. Seeing my brother Sosa doing it made me think damn, it’s his second time going away. Sometimes you’ve got to go away, the environment is different. You have to adapt to anything”
Such is his confidence, back in July he stepped up to lightweight and fought world ranked Ivan Redkach, easily outboxing the Ukrainian.
“It was a good opportunity, it’s only five pounds,” he said confidently. “To fight on TV, against a guy I knew I could dominate, why not? And then move back down. Skills pay the bills, if you’ve got skills you can pretty much do anything.
“This is just the beginning for me. The longer they wait to fight me the harder it’s going to get. I’m still learning, I’m not half of what I’m going to be in the future.”
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright