TRAVIS KAUFFMAN of Reading, Pennsylvania, makes what he himself calls a needed step up on December 12. Kauffman, 30-1 (22) overall and unbeaten in his last 12 (the sole loss coming by stoppage to Tony Grano back in 2009), will face established contender and former world title challenger Chris Arreola in San Antonio, Texas.

Kauffman, who has endured a number of injury-enforced layoffs during a pro career that began in 2006, has sparred Arreola before and he knows him well. Expecting an action fight next month, Kauffman, who goes by the nickname of “My Time,” goes as far as to say he will embarrass Arreola.

Here the 30-year-old speaks exclusively with Boxing News:

Q:  Is Arreola a fighter you have wanted to face for some time?

Travis Kauffman:  “Chris is a personal friend of mine and out of everyone I have ever sparred, he is the one I have had the most rounds with, and he with me. So I know him very well, in and out of the ring. I am very confident with this fight, but I know it’s time for me to step up, and I chose to do it against one of the toughest heavyweights in the division. Chris has four losses, three of them to world champions [Vitali Klitschko, Bermane Stiverne twice – the other defeat for “The Nightmare” coming against Tomasz Adamek]. I have to beat Chris to prove I’m championship material.”

Q: Do you think Arreola is as good as he was a few years back?

T.K:  “I do still think Chris is tough and very aggressive and a force to be reckoned with. The problem with Chris is, he put a lot of wear and tear on his body from years of partying as well as all the wars he’s had in the ring. But I take nothing for granted because I know Chris will be in better shape than for any other fight ever in his career.”

Q: Do you see this fight, primarily, as a can’t-miss shootout between two big hitters?

T.K:  “It’s definitely going to be an action fight, but if it becomes a slugfest that is better for him. So we are working on boxing and giving lots of angles. I plan on being able to beat him to the punch.”

Q: Who trains you now?

T.K:  “Naazim Richardson is my trainer. I’ve also been down here in Houston, Texas working on my performance, training with Danny Arnold.”

Q: Are you looking at earning a title shot with a win over Arreola?

T.K:  “First things first!  [I have] to take care of Arreola. I don’t look past him, but I know that when I beat him the sky is the limit and Al Haymon will have much bigger fights [for me]. I’m not saying this isn’t a huge fight, because it is, it’s the biggest, and he is the most experienced fighter, I’ve ever fought.”

Q: What would you say is your best win to date?

T.K:  “To me, my best win is when I beat Vince Thompson for the WBA Fedelatin title (a 10 round points win in January of last year). Just because I proved to myself that I can go the ten rounds. But every fight is important.”

Q: What went wrong in the loss to Tony Grano, your only loss as a pro?

T.K:  “When I fought Grano, I underestimated him and he was the smarter fighter that night. He was not at all the better fighter, he was smarter. I had abs for the first time in my life and I was in great shape. But the day before the weigh-in, I dried out. After the weigh-in, I ate a little bit, and the day of the fight I didn’t eat at all, so I ran out of gas. I was hurting Grano, in the fourth round I hurt him bad and I had him out. He used a veteran move and he hit me low. Instead of taking the allowed five-minutes to recover, because I didn’t want him to have any time to recover, I jumped right on him again. He spat his mouth-piece out and by then I was gassed. I wanted to kill Grano and started fighting with my heart instead of my head. I got hit with a beautiful right hand which buckled my knees. I still knew what was going on but I was too tired to think. While moving back from a punch, the back of my head hit a TV camera guy! Then Grano “close lined” me. I had no energy left to get up. I learned a lot from that fight and now I’m getting another [big] opportunity.”

Q: Which is your favourite punch?

T.K:  “My favourite punch is the one you don’t see coming. That’s the one that hurts you. As far as my overall style, I’m very versatile. I can box orthodox and southpaw. I consider myself a boxer with  decent power and I am a tremendous counter-puncher. I also know how to fight on the inside if I need to.”

Q: You have a had a number of layoffs during your career – returning to action in August of this year after a 19-month layoff due to your most recent layoff. What has been the reason or reasons for this?

T.K:  “I have had many layoffs, due to injury and surgeries I’ve had. Also, after the loss to Grano, it took me three years to rededicate myself. I’ve had hand and knee problems. But I don’t believe any of that will be an issue in this fight.”

Q: Finally, your prediction for the Arreola fight?

T.K:  “I predict Arreola will be coming out to try and make it a war. As long as I stick to my game-plan, you will see Travis Kauffman embarrassing Chris Arreola! I want to say thanks to all the UK fans who support me. Thank you all of you.”