Hanshaw amps up training for bout
CANNONSBURG, Ky. - Travis Hanshaw is the first to admit his ring tactics have gotten a major upgrade. Those tactics will be on display Saturday night when he defends the World Boxing Federation intercontinental light heavyweight title for the first time.
The Ashland fighter will take on Roy King in a scheduled 12-round bout in the main event on a pro-amateur show at the Boyd County Community Center. Bell time is 7 p.m.
Hanshaw’s usual corner man, father/trainer/promoter Tom Hanshaw, will be in his customary spot. He’ll be joined for the first time by Corky Salyer, who operates Fitness World and has trained many top male and female boxers in the area through the years. The longtime rivals train and manage most of the fighters in this East Coast Productions show.
“It’s been weird. I never thought Dad would do this,” the WBC champ (13-1-1) said prior to a workout at Westwood Boys and Girls Club in Flatwoods. “For so long, it was his way or no way. He knows I need help.”
Salyer and Hanshaw Sr. have been rivals. Many times it would come down to Salyer’s Fitness World boxers against Hanshaw’s Westwood contingent. Now they’ve come together.
“His dad was raised in the old Westwood tradition,” Salyer said. “No disrespect what he did with those guys - he got the most out of them. What I do is totally different. It’s a different system.”
Salyer has expertise in conditioning, and that’s important for someone like Hanshaw, who must go 10 to 12 rounds instead of the three from those amateur days.
“He’s on a new mission,” Salyer said of the champ, who is 26. “Take him out of his comfort zone. We’ve got to reinvent what he knows.”
Hanshaw first made his mark at 147 pounds. It appears he’s found a home at 175, where securing opponents is a bit easier.
“I like this better,” he said. “Guys are stronger. Speed’s different. Everything’s coming at you.”
Hanshaw is working with weights to be more solid at this division. Salyer enhanced Hanshaw’s training routine, particularly sparring sessions. Often they’d travel to duke it out against fighters as good as or better than Hanshaw.
“People better than him,” Salyer said. “Want him to get stronger. Got to get through this first.”
Hanshaw’s one loss came against Taras Shelestyuk (unbeaten at the time) in a welterweight fight in 2013 in Jacksonville, Florida. In 2016 in Columbus, Ohio, the draw was against Eric Asher at super middleweight.
Hanshaw’s big moment before he won the light heavyweight title came in 2012 when he beat then unbeaten Emmanual Sanchez at super middleweight in Columbus.
Salyer captured his current title when he won by decision over David Markert, of Beckley, on Nov. 17, 2017, in front of the home crowd at the Boyd County Community Center.
“I want him to speed up,” Salyer said. “When he hits a guy, drive the jab ... drive the knuckle on that hand through the opponent’s face. Coast on me - not good enough.”
Hanshaw said the new training intensity is working.
“Comfort zone - I’m out of it,” Hanshaw said. “We’ve been all over sparring. A lot of good guys. In the past I’d see a lot of the same old faces. Now I see guys as hungry or hungrier than I am. They’ve all been different. Hit hard, move fast, everything.”
The night Hanshaw won the light heavy title was emotional. It’ll be more of the same Saturday night with the raucous home crowd again behind him.
“That’s something I wanted my whole life,” he said of having a championship belt around his waist. “To defend in my hometown is special. People are chasing me now. I’ve not had that happen. It’s hard to win a title, it’s harder to keep it. I’ve got what everybody else wants.”
For King, who is 39 and lives in Johnson City, Tennessee, this is his first fight against an opponent with a winning record. His last bout was July 2017 when he won by decision over Keith Collins.
“He’s cocky. This is the first time I’ve not liked the guy,” Hanshaw said. “This is a fight I need.”
After this bout, Salyer is scheduled to visit Pittsburgh for some more grueling sparring sessions. A win would make possible a title defense in March in Europe.
“He was young then, not ready for the big stage,” Salyer said. “This is a big test.”
Saturday’s card should have either nine or 10 fights. On the pro side, Bill Yates, Thomas Hanshaw Jr. and Adam Collins are scheduled to enter the ring. Yates (2-2), a cruiserweight, looks to bounce back from a loss on Nov. 17 at Boyd County. Hanshaw (10-7) seeks his fifth straight win at cruiserweight. Collins (14-13) enters the ring for the last time at heavyweight.