Last week, PokerNews spoke to WSOPE bracelet winner Theo Jorgensen as he prepared for his high-profile, February 21 boxing match with Gus Hansen. It is only fair, therefore, to hear from Hansen, poker's "Great Dane," as he makes his last-minute preparations for Saturday's fight in Copenhagen, Denmark. Although boxing is brand new territory for both men, Hansen is no stranger to sports-related prop bets.
"I've always loved sports and competing from a very young age," said Hansen. "I have always played sports like golf, tennis, ping pong and soccer and betting on them comes naturally. I once had a bet with Chip Reese that I could run a marathon and also had a basketball dunking bet with him, I won the marathon bet but lost the basketball bet, so it was a washout. The quite well-known tennis bet I have with Patrik Antonius still hasn't happened. It keeps getting put off; I don't think it ever will happen."
Theo Jorgensen mentioned in his interview that he wants to try to dislike Gus going into the fight, even if he can't. So does Gus feel the same?
"Well, I'm a lover, not a fighter. Theo is a really good friend but he knows I am also a competitor. I know his trainer has been trying to teach him to hate me, but that says to me his coach doesn't know poker well enough. I can play poker with Phil Ivey, Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, etcetera, and try and take all their money; if I get a chance to break them I will take it, but it doesn't mean afterwards we can't play golf together, have drinks together, look at pretty girls together and all those things."
Hansen continued, "We poker players have a different mindset at the table and that may translate well in boxing. We don't want to beat each other to a bloody pulp but if we have to give each other a bloody nose to win, we will. I'm definitely taking my 'A' game but after the fight we will have a drink together… well, the winner will probably want to take the loser for a drink and not the other way around."
Jorgensen noted that he has been training for five months while Gus has been training for only three weeks. Is Gus unprepared for this match?
"Theo is exaggerating a little bit there," he responded. "I have been in the boxing gym for maybe five to seven weeks. Theo has spent more time boxing, but I have spent more time training; I'm in much better shape than he is. I was in better shape before the challenge was made and I still am now [that] he has been in the gym for five months." Still, Gus conceded that Theo will be no pushover, and shared that his own boxing style will closely mirror his poker style.
"Theo will have much better technique — of that I have no doubt — and maybe that edge will be too much for me. But I am in better shape and will be going for a higher-tempo style. I won't be adopting a defensive style because that would suit Theo and his superior technique, I plan on making it a brawl, a dogfight, I will have more of an edge the more physical the fight is."
Although Gus might have taken a little too long to get into the boxing gym, he's more than made up for it by sparring with Danish boxing superstar Mikkel Kessler last week as part of his preparation. So could the Great Dane hold his own against the Viking Warrior?
Said Gus, "Mikkel Kessler is on a different planet to me. Here is a man that could destroy me not in minutes, but in seconds if he wanted to. He did punch me clean a few times when we sparred but I could tell he wasn't hitting me anywhere near full power. He was hitting me full speed and that was really interesting, seeing how quick his combinations were. He is so quick, there is so much you would need to learn to be as good as him. But I am not in this to become a boxer; thankfully I am fighting Theo Jorgensen, not Mikkel Kessler."
The night that Hansen and Jorgensen are fighting for pride (and $35,000) also marks the launching of gushansentv.com, Hansen's personalized poker site. Hansen's site will join an increasingly crowded field of sites offering video instruction and poker training. Gus offered this on the launch: "Gushansentv launches next week during the fight and other than that, it will be poker, poker, poker. I will give commentary on my [online] hands as they happen. I will also be going through some of my famous hands from TV and talk about what my thought processes were behind some of these seemingly 'crazy' hands. We also plan to have a feature called 'Ask Gus' where viewers can ask anything they want."
Two for the price of one: Gus Hansen
promotes both his fight and his new poker site</center>