Mike Gavronski: Making it on Your Own

By Wrigley Brogan on January 10, 2018
Mike Gavronski: Making it on Your Own
From the beginning, Gavronski has been trying to make it on his own. (Wrigley Brogan)

Boxing is a precarious business. Everyone claims to be an expert and they often offer the moon to a young man eager for fame…

I once read that one million dollars will be spent for a boxer to earn a chance at a legitimate world boxing title. Of course, many boxers have spent less; have even earned a shot based upon talent rather than connections. From the beginning, super middleweight Mike Gavronski has been trying to make it on his own. Several promoters have offered him contracts, including Banner Promotions, one of the largest and most successful promoters in the world. Banner has handled such fighters as Ricky Hatton, Cristobal Cruz, Verno Phillips, Dmitry Pirog, and heavyweight champion Chris Byrd. He has turned down all offers until now.

Recently, knowing he needs some help, he signed with Brian Halquist Productions. Halquist is the most successful boxing promoter in Washington State. His “Battle at the Boat” series at the Emerald Queen Casino will soon stage its 115th fight, a remarkable run for any promoter.

Gavronski, from Tacoma, Washington, recently beat Andrew Hernandez (19-7-1) for the WBA-NABA Super Middleweight Title. Unlike other fighters, who build their records on the chins of lost causes, street bums, and spare-changers, he has fought the best opponents his manager, Sam Ditusa, can find. Seventeen of his 25 victories have come against opponents with winning records. Compare that with lesser fighters who have all their wins against a string of losing punching bags. Fighting tomato cans, or any other kind of produce, cannot develop boxing skills. The WBA has now ranked Gavronski number 13 in their rankings.

Fighting winning opponents opens a rising star to defeats. Gavronski has two losses on his record: one to Tureano Johnson (14-1-0) by unanimous decision, and one to Dashon Johnson (17-18-3) by RTD. Gavronski feels a decent boxer can get a world shot even with losses on his record.

From Hilltop to Mountaintop, that is the road Tacoma boxer Mike Gavronski has taken. So far the climb has been firm and steady, ever steeper, ever higher. His recent win over Andrew Hernandez, at the Emerald Queen Casino, shows he is on track and if he continues the progress, a shot at a world title will be waiting. Promoter Brian Halquist says, “Mike has an incredible opportunity before him.”

Gavronski is following in the footsteps of such famous Tacoma boxers as Rocky Lockridge, Sugar Ray Seals, Johnny Bumphus, Leo Randolph, and Irish Pat McMurtry.

His climb up the mountain may not be as difficult as his climb to adulthood has been. He was raised in Hilltop in a violent and dangerous family, a tumultuous environment to which no kid should be subjected. Gavronski had to make decisions that would have been difficult for most adults, but he has always understood what is best for him.

By the age of 13, life had become so precarious at home that he asked the courts if he could live with his grandparents. They agreed and eventually his grandparents adopted him. They had both been previously married and each had four children. “They consider me the child they had together,” he said. “By raising me, they saved my life.”

Like so many young people in tough situations, Gavronski turned to boxing as a way to vent his aggressions and as a possible way to rise in the sporting world. In the amateurs he quickly realized his talent in 50 bouts with only 8 losses. During that time he fought well against present world contenders like Daniel Jacobs and Shawn Porter.

Boxing is a precarious business. Everyone claims to be an expert and they often offer the moon to a young man eager for fame. Gavronski fell into several of these traps before finding Sam Ditusa, a trainer/manager from Seattle with a reputation for knowledge and honesty. The match has been a good one. Like Gavronsky, Ditusa feels a fighter needs to fight quality opponents. They both refuse to take easy fights.

Gavronski has managed to avoid the seamier side of boxing, especially concerning drugs. He saw too many lives destroyed in the Hilltop area. He avoids any associations with fighters, especially ex-fighters, involved with drugs, and has even changed gyms to protect himself.

Unlike many emerging fighters who refuse to work, Gavronski has, until recently, always held a job. “There is no such thing as a bad, or meaningless job,” he said. He has held a job for as long as he can remember. He is now earning enough in boxing to concentrate on his career.

Maintaining a job and finding the time to train was difficult. He recently trained and fought in the Midwest and will be going to California soon. He knows that sparring and training in different places and with as many boxers as possible is essential for success.

He presently trains in Texas, a move that has greatly improved his skills. Gavronski is a straight-ahead banger, often leading with his chin, and has often been too eager to get a knockout. He has learned to settle down, think more, and conserve his energy. He does not lack for heart. In an early fight, Tristan Todd (8-3-0) broke his jaw in three places in the second round. His jaw was hanging down and, afraid the referee would stop the fight, he hooked his tongue under the corner of his mouth to hold the jaw up. He eventually pounded Todd so badly that the fight was stopped and Todd went to the emergency room where part of his skull was removed to release the pressure and to save his life.

Gavronski would like to fight every month, but with the decline in boxing interest, bouts are becoming difficult to find. He is also coming up against the problem of many decent emerging boxers—no one wants to fight him.

To help maintain his conditioning, Gavronski once considered MMA, popular with the new legion of fight fans. In MMA one can use any type of fighting technique including boxing, wrestling, and martial arts. Because of that he would run the risk of pulling or tearing various tendons or muscles that might injure his boxing career.

“I discussed it with my management team. We all decided it was a bad idea. I only know one thing; I want to fight.”

Opponents get more particular as they move up in class, as Gavronski learned in his last fight for the WBA-NABA Super Middleweight fight against Andrew Hernandez. The bout had trouble from the weigh-in when Hernandez brought his own gloves to use, something not allowed in any state. Gloves for any championship bout must be new and unopened. Hernandez refused to fight unless he could wear his gloves. He said they matched his trunks. He wanted to look good and coordinated with his outfit. He should have been more concerned about winning the fight. In order to let the fight proceed, Gavronski agreed to let him wear the gloves claiming he would beat him regardless of what he wore. And he did.

Gavronski started the bout slowly throwing only occasional shots with a certain lack of speed. One judge gave Hernandez, who put up a decent fight, the first 4 rounds. As the fight progressed Gavronski started to find his rhythm. His speed and his combinations improved and he became more accurate. By the 8th round he was firing with regularity when, near the end of the round, both men tumbled to the canvas. Hernandez claimed he was pushed and he could not continue because Gavronski had fallen on his leg. That was his final answer. When he first fell he said he had hurt his arm. His corner yelled at him to say he had obviously made a mistake and, what he had injured, or broken, was his foot or ankle. Apparently the pain was traveling throughout his body, and even out of his body as it raced through his corner men, then back into his mind, his leg, his ankle, then his foot. It seemed an obvious attempt to win by foul. Something about the injury was foul, that was certain.

The referee had not called a foul and there was some confusion as to how to settle the dispute. If the injury was legitimate (cough) and no foul was called the bout should have been a no-contest. The crowd would have torn down the casino had that been done. The crowd started chanting “Mikie, Mikie.” After conferring with the commission the referee declared an unintentional foul and the outcome went to the scorecards. Gavronski won by split decision. Hernandez threw the best punch of the night with his lips as he spit an 8-foot loogie in Gavronski’s face as he walked past. Gavronski went after him but was held back by his corner men. Had Hernandez thrown a few of those shots with his fists instead of his lips the outcome might have been different. Using his own gloves made no difference and his coordinated outfit did not look that good, anyway. Gavronski looks good in anything, especially his new belt.

Gavronski hopes his future fights are against more professional opponents. Halquist has great hopes for the future. “We are already fielding calls about Mike fighting in a huge fight. We should know more within the week. It’s been a while since a Northwest fighter has been poised for a world title fight.”

The peak of the mountain is within view for Gravronski and if he stays on track he might possibly be fighting for a world championship within one or two years. Every climb to the top is difficult, but the view is spectacular.

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  1. Alfonso Bedoya 04:19pm, 01/11/2018

    In some states it’s a crime to spit in someone’s face…..to spit an “8-foot loogie” in another’s face should be a capital offense! This “warrior” could be HIV positive for all we know….better for it to bum rush Gavronski and try to scratch his eyes out!

  2. Alfonso Bedoya 05:47pm, 01/10/2018

    Does Hernandez lose his “warrior” card or is it just suspended?!

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