Tevin Farmer looks forward to life as a titleholder after Ogawa fight
It’s cliche to suggest that a fighter defied the odds to put themselves in position to win a world title, but in Tevin Farmer’s case, it’s true. And on Saturday night at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, he’ll face Kenichi Ogawa for a vacant 130-pound title.
You’d be hard-pressed to name a boxer who was born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Struggle and hardship has been a part of boxing’s fabric for as long as the sport has existed. But what you don’t often hear about is a fighter on the verge of obscurity pulling themselves up by the bootstraps and taking control of their career. That’s exactly what Tevin Farmer did.
Oh, he’s faced his fair share of adversity in 2017. But we’ll get there shortly.
The product of Philadelphia had never tried boxing before accompanying his brother to a gym at the age of 19. Even then, he admits he didn’t take it seriously. But he turned pro after only two years of training and was stopped in his professional debut in 2011. After losing by TKO to Jose Pedraza in 2012, Farmer’s record was an unspectacular 7-4-1. In a sport that still overvalues an undefeated record, Farmer’s future in the sport looked rather bleak. But rather than pack it in, Farmer decided to reinvent himself and put his all into boxing.
“I wasn’t ever serious,” Farmer tells RingTV about his early days in boxing. “I’d go to the gym a couple of days and then miss ten days. But after losing to Pedraza, it all began to click.”
Farmer rededicated himself to his craft. He brought together the training team of Raul “Chino” Rivas, Nicholas Rosario, Reginald Lloyd and Anthony Rodriguez to fine tune his natural athletic ability. He also hired a manager to help with his business moves. Since the Pedraza loss, Farmer has won 18 fights in a row and clawed his way into title contention. Looking back, he’s fortunate that the sport didn’t turn its back on a 7-4-1 fighter. With a record that currently sits at 25-4-1 (5 knockouts), Farmer wants to prove that his record means nothing in the grand scheme of things.
“A lot of these undefeated guys are stepping up and getting knocked out,” Farmer says about the illusion of the unbeaten record. “It plays with the casual fan’s mind. A lot of fans that don’t know about boxing only know unbeaten records. If you can sell them the dream, then you got them.”
For Farmer, his record is a sign of where he came from.
Now here’s the part where he has to face adversity.
2017 has been a tough year for Farmer. He tore his biceps against Arturo Santos Reyes back in April, which put him on the sidelines. Farmer upped the ante on the injuries when he was shot in the right hand during a family event over the summer. The bullet went clean through his hand and fortunately the injury didn’t require surgery, but Farmer was told that he wouldn’t fight again. Once again, rather than call it a night, Farmer worked harder. It took four weeks of rehab before he could close his hand, but he insists that he’s ready to go on December 9. And with rival Gervonta Davis vacating the IBF belt, Farmer will get the opportunity to become a titleholder against Ogawa (22-1, 17 KOs).
“It seems like everything happens for a reason,” he says. “I’m a firm believer in that and I never complained one time. Not one time did I complain. I got right back into the gym and back into it.”
He admits he doesn’t know much about his opponent but hopes that his record isn’t another illusion.
“I watched him and he can fight,” Farmer says of Ogawa, who will fight outside of Japan for the first time. “He’s a straight-forward fighter who will come to fight you. He won’t back down. But that’s all I know.”
Farmer may only have five knockouts, but he says that is only because he hasn’t been pushed to the limit. In some ways, he’s hoping Ogawa will be the guy that forces him to empty his toolbox.
“So far, since I’ve taken the sport serious, nobody has yet to make me dig deep,” he says. “I’m cruising through these fighters. I’m praying that this guy brings the best outta me. I have underrated power. When the time comes, people will see a lot more power. Right now, I don’t have to. If I can cruise and beat you up, why take chances when I don’t have to?”
Regardless of whether or not Ogawa forces Farmer to dig deep, the fighter from Philly expects to be champion when the calendar flips to 2018. And if that happens, chances are that we see one of the more talked-about boxing rivalries on social media come to fruition. Farmer and Davis of Mayweather Promotions have been going back and forth over the past couple of years. Farmer insists that he didn’t start the feud, but is determined to finish it when the time comes.
“Back in 2014, somebody put a tweet out to Gervonta about fighting me,” he says. “I didn’t know anything about him. I ignored the tweet and he said we can make a fight with Farmer happen, and we’ve been at it ever since.”
How the rivalry became so contentious is something that Farmer is unsure of. But he says that he has never been at odds with anyone like he has with Davis.
“I’ve never dealt with anybody like him,” he says. “I got along with everybody. It’s surprising to me. Nobody has a problem with me. I always ask myself if there will be a time when somebody doesn’t like me and I don’t like them? There it goes. The thing is that he doesn’t like me. I don’t care about him. He’s 22 years old, I’m 27. I’m not worried about him.”
With that fight seemingly bound to happen at some point, Farmer sees no reason to be wrapped up in the possibilities. Instead, he’s focused on becoming a champion and watching as everyone lines up to face a fighter who was once 7-4-1.
“I want to fight at least 3 times next year. It’s not my job to look for a fight. I’ll be the champion and they’ll be looking for me. Whoever steps up, I’ll pick out of them. I already did that. That’s what you do when you want to be the champion. When you are the champion, you don’t have to do that anymore. I can sit back and let them come get me.”