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Q & A: Heavyweight Contender Manuel Quezada

(Photo © Laura De La Torre of Goossen-Tutor Promotions)
(Photo © Laura De La Torre of Goossen-Tutor Promotions)

18 straight wins will catch anyone’s attention. Just ask WBC CABOFE champion Manuel “El Toro” Quezada, 29-4 (18), who has crept into the consciousness of the heavyweight division by going undefeated the last four years. Standing only one spot below Samuel Peter at number eight in the latest WBC heavyweight rankings, the 32-year-old has another opportunity to make his case for a shot at Vitali Klitschko’s belt when he takes on Jason Gavern (18-7, 8 KOs) on April 8 in Lemoore, California.  I recently spoke with the native of Wasco, California, as he made the final preparations for his fight next Thursday.


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Ryan Maquiñana: Tell me about how training camp in Chatsworth has gone leading up to the fight. Jason Gavern is no slouch; he’s been in there with Denis Boytsov, and you even have a common opponent in Travis Walker. Is there anything you’ve worked on in the gym specifically for an opponent like Gavern?

Manuel Quezada: Every day we’ve been coming up and back (from Wasco to the M-1 Global Gym in Chatsworth, California). We look at every fight the same as far as being ready as we can. We’ve been getting very good sparring from heavyweights like Malik Scott and Javier Mora, and Deon Elam, a cruiserweight. Jason’s not the biggest heavyweight. He’s quick and slick, so we’ll be ready for this guy. We know he’s gone the distance with a lot of very good fighters. I’m going to try to work his body a little bit and slow him down.


RM: In 2005, you were 11-3 when you dropped a decision to a heavy underdog in David Johnson. Describe what was going on in your mind when you got back to the dressing room that night. Did you feel like you were at a career crossroads? 


MQ: Definitely. Losing to a guy like that, you’ve got to stop and think about what you’re really doing. Once that fight was over, we realized we didn’t have the right training camps for fights. We had to change things up, and once we did as far as training and getting better sparring partners, it’s obviously paid off in that we’ve been getting good results with a lot of wins.


RM: In addition to avenging that loss to Johnson, you’ve reeled off 18 consecutive wins, with the most impressive one of them being a one-round knockout of Walker. Do you feel vindicated now from not having given up when times were tough? 


MQ: Definitely. Back then, when times were rough, I would always stop and think about if I had the right training and right people around me, I knew I could do it. And now that everything’s together, and I have the right team around me, it’s paying off. A lot of people see that I can fight.


RM: How did you hook up with Joe Goossen? In what ways has he helped you develop as a fighter? 


MQ: We actually hooked up because of Malik Scott. We ended up getting good sparring with him, and Malik was working with Joe at the time, so we called [Joe] up, and it’s worked out from there. The difference has been pushing myself to the limit and getting better sparring. And now as I got older, I know what it takes to get in fighting shape, and now we’re ready to go hard every round, no matter whoever we’re fighting.


RM: Speaking of the number 18, this is your 18th fight in Lemoore, which is a 90-minute drive from your hometown of Wasco (near Bakersfield). How comfortable is it to be fighting not only in a familiar venue, but one that is so close to Wasco? 


MQ: Very comfortable. I have a lot of friends and family that come out. It’s like fighting in my backyard every time I step in the ring. There’s no other place I’d rather fight. Like they say in basketball, they have the “Sixth Man”, and I feel the same way when I get in the ring. I feel the extra energy from the crowd.


RM: Joe’s brother, Dan Goossen, set up the bout between you and Walker since he promotes both of you. A stablemate of yours, Chris Arreola, also went through Walker on his way to a WBC title shot (Arreola’s fighting Tomasz Adamek on April 24). Like you, he’s a Mexican-American heavyweight from California. Would you be interested in a Central Valley vs. Inland Empire showdown under the Goossen-Tutor banner down the road? 


MQ: Oh yeah, that’s a big fight that anyone would want to see. Chris Arreola has made a name for himself. He’s beaten a lot of good fighters and he’s challenged for the title, so if we can get together for a big fight, that would be great. I’d definitely be down for that.


RM: You’re currently the WBC number eight contender for Vitali Klitschko’s title, and there’s been talk from Mario Serrano, your publicist- as well as from Goossen Tutor- about a world title shot later this year. If “Dr. Iron Fist” gets by Albert Sosnowski on May 29, why do you think RTL, the German company that holds the TV rights to Klitschko’s fights, would find you to be an attractive challenger instead of fighters ahead of you in the top ten like Samuel Peter, Nikolay Valuev, Odlanier Solis, or even Derric Rossy? 


MQ: I see a lot of guys in front of me, but they’ve had their chance. They’ve had their opportunities to fight for the title. Sam Peter is one and, of course, he got beat by Vitali. So they’ve had their chance, so I would love for them to give me my opportunity. I feel like if we did that fight, I think it would sell better than Peter’s fight with him because I am Mexican. I’m a Latin heavyweight. I think it would be a bigger draw, so if they wanted a big fight, I think this would be a better fight.


RM: What’s the first thing you’re going to do when this fight is over on Thursday night? 


MQ: As soon as the fight is over, the first thing I’m going to do is hug my mom, Graciela, then hang out with my family and friends at the casino for awhile. Then we all pretty much head home to Wasco together, like nothing’s changed.


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On April 8, Goossen-Tutor Promotions presents the first of its four scheduled shows of 2010 at the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino in Lemoore, California, featuring three of its top young prospects from Central California, Wasco heavyweight Manny "El Toro" Quezada, undefeated Bakersfield junior welterweight Michael "Silent Assassin" Dallas Jr., as well as the pro debut of Fresno super bantamweight Michael Ruiz. Tickets may be ordered online at, by phone at 1-800-277-2255, or at the Tachi Palace Gift Shop, 17225 Jersey Avenue, Lemoore, CA 93245. Prices are $225, $60, $40, $35 and $20. 


Ryan can be reached at

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