Jason Sosa and Tevin Farmer are as close as any two professional boxers in the entire sport. When you enter Dream Team Boxing Academy in Runnemede, New Jersey, the atmosphere is set by the two talented super featherweights. Everyone in the gym follows their lead, and you can sense their natural chemistry. Whether they are discussing strategy for an upcoming bout, jumping rope, or doing mitt work, their presence and bond is palpable. They support each other, unequivocally, in and out of the ring.
Leading up to Sosa’s WBA super featherweight title victory over Javier Fortuna in China, Farmer (24-4-1) served as his primary sparring partner. Farmer’s ability as a slick southpaw provided a close replica of what Sosa (20-1-4) could anticipate against Fortuna.
Sosa attended Farmer’s two most recent wins, a comfortable decision triumph over Orlando Rizo and a successful defense of his NABF crown against Dardan Zenunaj on December 2nd, both in Farmer’s hometown of Philadelphia. Farmer also traveled to Monaco with Sosa for the first defense of his title, a unanimous points win in an entertaining battle against Stephen Smith.
Trainer Raul “Chino” Rivas has a unique view of their relationship. He says that it is something he has never seen before in the squared circle. Each seems to know what the other is going to do before it happens.
“Everybody works hard and they push each other as motivation,” Rivas said. “Since their relationship is amazing, everything has been for the better between them. From the beginning, before I started training Tevin Farmer, he started sparring with Jason and they hit it off. They are very respectful, humble kids who love and respect each other.”
Sosa and Farmer are so close that they often refer to each other as brothers. Rivas even described a situation where a potential problem was thwarted because of the strength of their alliance.
“To give you an understanding of how they support each other, when Tevin fought [Daulis] Prescott in California, Jason had a big fight at the same time. I was glad that Jason’s fight got canceled. Prior to that, we had a nice meeting and Jason said, ‘I’m the bigger brother, your fight is bigger because it’s televised so ‘Pops’ [Rivas] needs to be with you.’ Tevin supports Jason 150% and Jason supports Tevin 150%. That’s the kind of support we have.”
Farmer, a noted gym rat who will only take a week off (or less) in between fights, talks about how the environment that Rivas has set up in training has led to the strong kinship between both fighters.
“I guess you are who your trainer is and that’s how ‘Chino’ was,” Farmer said. “We see each other every day and it just happened. I don’t even know how. He’s [Sosa’s] like my family and my brother. We always talked about becoming world champs some day. I’m happy he’s a world champ and that he finally got his shot at it. Now, we’re just waiting for me to get my shot.”
At 12 p.m. on any given day, it is rare not to find both Sosa and Farmer training. The gym is constantly abuzz with activity and led by the two super featherweights encouraging their stablemates to push harder. Even though he’s a world champion, Sosa still feels the visceral excitement from simply stepping inside the gym.
“We’re open to anybody who wants to get real work,” Sosa said. “We’re the best thing going right now. We always have inside sparring against each other so we are only going to keep learning and improving.”
Sosa, who goes by the moniker “El Canito,” discussed how he and Farmer are always there for each other. “The love that I have for Tevin is unexplainable. When I first saw Tevin walk through these doors, I saw a very smart individual. He didn’t know what door he was walking into, but I did. Our relationship grew and grew. Tevin is a wonderful person because he’s got a great, wonderful heart. He’s a special kid and I love him for that. Our relationship is very big.”
From a pure boxing perspective, Sosa is able to point out their similarities and differences. “We are the best 130 pounders in the world. We always say that to each other to get us motivated. Me and him together are a powerful weapon in the boxing world. He’s a southpaw, one of the greatest southpaws in the world. My brother [Farmer] can do anything he wants in that ring. I’m one of the best aggressive fighters in the world. He’s taught me a lot, just like I know I’ve taught him a lot.”
Looking ahead, Rivas sketched what he would like to see happen before the end of the year to maximize the chances of having two world champions in his stable by the close of 2017. “By next year, we [Farmer and Rivas] should be fighting for a world title. We’ll be in a really good spot for next year. All we’ll have to do is fight for an eliminator and get a title shot.”
The two major highlights this year for each fighter were Sosa’s aforementioned title-winning TKO over Fortuna, and Farmer’s impressive step-up to lightweight where he decisioned hyped contender Ivan Redkach, which was aired on Showtime Extreme. Farmer, who is currently ranked third by the WBC, seventh by the IBF, and tenth by the WBO, reflected on the preparation that produced these significant and momentum-generating wins.
“I’m probably the best southpaw sparring partner in the world he [Jason] could have,” Farmer said. “I came every day and pushed him in and out of sparring. When he got in the ring for the fight, he was prepared for everything. He went in there and did the job. He made all the hard work pay off for Fortuna. It felt like I won the fight. It felt like I won the title.”
“Basically, I was making him [Redkach] hesitant about throwing,” Farmer added when assessing his own (practically) punch-perfect performance. “Every time he threw a punch, I countered him, so now he’s scared to throw. I was giving him little feints and making him skeptical about throwing. I have him right where I want him to be. I’m not a big guy, but I’m pretty tough. The plan was to wear him down. I was standing there with him.”
Most recently, Farmer defeated the 12-2 Zenunaj by unanimous decision, pitching a near shutout in doing so, and The “American Idol” sees a bright future for both he and Sosa. “I’ll definitely have a title before 12 months. We’ll be making big money a year from now. We’ll be pulling up to the gym with nice cars and we’ll have nice houses.” — Thad Moore