Local boxer Travis Hanshaw got the call he’s been waiting his whole life for.
Hanshaw will travel to Jacksonville, Fla., this week to take on Ukrainian fighter Taras Shelestyuk as part of ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
And after more 130 fights, including seven professionally, Hanshaw knows how important this fight is. It’s his first fight on national television.
“It’s one of the biggest fights of my career,” Hanshaw said. “I really don’t get nervous, although I used to before fights. But I’ll probably get a little nervous because it’s on television.”
Father, trainer and coach Tom Hanshaw knew this moment was coming for his son. As someone who has been with Travis (aka “Rattlesnake”) every step of the way, he’s excited that Travis’ hard work will finally be put on national display.
“Ever since he was a little kid he’s talked about being a champion,” Tom Hanshaw said. “This is the one we’ve been waiting on. This one here is what it has all been leading to. He’ll be on top before you know it.”
The man standing across the ring from Hanshaw on Friday is no slouch. Shelestyuk won the bronze medal in the welterweight division at the 2012 London Olympics.
The Ukrainian powerhouse is only 3-0 in his young professional career — he debuted in a fight on March 29.
Each fight failed to go a full four rounds, all ending in a technical knockout.
“He’ll be coming to knock Travis out,” Tom Hanshaw said. “He comes at you throwing bombs. Our goal is to keep him out of reach, because we have the reach advantage.”
“I’m going to beat him,” Travis added. “I match up perfectly against his style. He’s left-handed and he’s a slugger and I can box him all day.”
Hanshaw accepted the fight on June 18 and will fly to Jacksonville on Tuesday to meet with promoters.
His last fight was back in February against Nathan Petty at the Boyd County Community Center. He won by unanimous decision.
When asked if the short notice will affect him at all, Hanshaw said he hasn’t really stopped since his last fight.
“I was already in training,” Hanshaw said. “I just told them I’m going to keep training and I’ll be ready when I get down there.”
According to Tom Hanshaw, his son’s training has been great the past few months. They’ve added a nutritionist, and Travis has been training with his brother, Tom Hanshaw Jr., and has worked with Darnell Lisath, of Portsmouth, in conditioning.
The elder Hanshaw has noticed the biggest difference in his son’s punching power.
“We can’t find anyone to work with him,” Tom Hanshaw said. “This is the hardest he’s hit in his whole life. He’s at the top his game.
“All he has to do is go in there and do like we’ve been training.”
What’s more important is what Travis was told by the promoters of the fight — that big things could be ahead if he gets a win on Friday.
“They said if I win, my next fight will (pay) six figures,” said Travis. “They also said I would be two fights away from a world championship bout. It adds extra incentive.”
Tom also know the benefits of winning the fight, adding that a change in scenery could be in the cards to help boost Travis’ career.
“Everyone knows he’s the top fighter in the Tri-State and if he wins he won’t be back for a while,” Tom Hanshaw said. “We’ve both talked about it, and he knows we have to advance from here. There are not enough fighters in the area to get him to where he needs to be.”
But that doesn’t mean they’ll forget about the Tri-State area. Tom said if it wasn’t for all the local support, Travis wouldn’t have had this opportunity.
From the schools and El Hasa Temple hosting his fights, to Joe Burchett and the Boyd County Sheriff’s Department setting up the rings, the Hanshaws are grateful.
“If it wasn’t for the people in the county it would have made it a lot harder to make it where he’s at right now,” Tom Hanshaw said. “We’ve had a lot of support. It’s not possible without the help.”
Hanshaw will fight on a complete card featuring a main event in the middleweight division featuring Gregorza Proska vs. Sergio Mora.
Hanshaw’s fight will begin between 8 and 9 p.m. and he mentioned particular reason people in the area will want to watch — he might actually take a shot to the face.
“A lot of people haven’t see me get hit,” Travis Hanshaw laughed. “A lot of people wonder if I have a chin. It might be one those nights where they find out.”
KYLE HOBSTETTER can be contacted at email@example.com or at (606) 326-2658.