DALLAS — There was a time when Tevin Farmer didn’t need boxing. Today, it’s something he can’t live without. Boxing has granted the soon-to-be 29-year-old the opportunity to travel the world and have the finer things in life. But given the chance, the only place he wants to go is back to the gym. Join DAZN to watch Hooker vs. Ramirez on July 27 and 100+ fight nights a year“I did a little bit of vacationing,” Farmer (29-4-1, 6 KOs and 1 No Contest) says while sitting in a hotel lobby. His wife passes by and kisses Farmer on the top of his head almost to say “thank you” for the much-needed respite from pugilism that took him to Jamaica, Las Vegas and Ethiopia. “But all I could think about was getting back to training for my next fight.”Farmer will defend the IBF 130-pound title for the fourth time in a year when he faces French southpaw Guillaume Frenois (41-1-1, 12 KOs) in the co-featured bout of the super lightweight unification showdown between WBO champion Maurice Hooker and WBC titleholder Jose Ramirez on DAZN. Over the past 365 days, Farmer has fought Jono Carroll, Francisco Fonseca, James Tennyson and the opponent where he finally became a world champion, Billy Dib. This will be the fifth bout in a year for Farmer, who fights like he’s still hungry. And, for all intents and purposes, he is. Farmer is a much different fighter than the one who had a run-in with fellow 130-pound titlist Gervonta Davis — who just so happens to be fighting on the same day as Farmer, but in another city and on another network — when the two exchanged words in a Maryland after Vasiliy Lomachenko’s victory over Jason Sosa. “We got the (IBF) belt! Why would I fight you?” Davis barked at Farmer, who was then emptyhanded. “I’m the champion and you’ve got four losses!” Today, Farmer holds the title that was once Davis’ and has defended that championship more than his Baltimore rival, who now holds the WBA (Super) featherweight title. There aren’t many excuses now aside from the politics that often get in the way of the fights fans want to see. But Farmer has done his part and then some to become one of the most unlikely success stories in boxing. Those four losses that Davis referred to were back when Farmer wasn’t really sure if boxing was going to be in his future. As a matter of fact, boxing was just something to keep him busy and out of the streets. Growing up in Philadelphia as one of 12 kids, Farmer had no idea what he wanted to do with his life. A self-defined “athlete,” Farmer tried his hand at multiple sports and boxing only entered his life when he accompanied his brother to the gym. “I didn’t love it,” he says of his first taste of boxing. “But I was sparring against people who had been training for a long time and I did really good. So, I just stuck with it.”Nobody thought much of Farmer as a fighter. He was just good enough to be an opponent who accepted fights on short notice. Sometimes he won, other times he lost. He was stopped in the final round of his first professional fight against Oscar Santana, but blames the loss on conditioning more than his opponent. He’d go on to lose his fourth fight, eighth bout and then came his shot against former Olympian Jose Pedraza on Showtime.He was dutifully outpointed and stopped in the final round by Pedraza. And that’s when Farmer realized that maybe if he dedicated himself to the craft, both in and out of the ring, he could be more than just an opponent. “My last loss in 2012 was when boxing really started clicking to me,” Farmer says. “I realized I needed to take it seriously. I was learning more and more about the game. I reached out to a friend of the family to help me. He had the resources and the money to help me out. He learned the business with me and placed me on shows.”Farmer stopped taking classes at nursing school to focus primarily on boxing. He needed to invest in himself. He brought together the team of head trainer Raul “Chino” Rivas, Rosario Lloyd and Rashiem Jefferson to help sharpen his skill set. He was naturally gifted, but taking the sport seriously saw a quick return for the budding talent. Farmer strung together eight straight wins before his true coming out party against Emanuel Gonzalez, who was undefeated at the time and touted by Golden Boy Promotions as their next big thing. “I beat the hell out of him,” Farmer laughs. Rivas sits next to Farmer and nods in agreement. They both realized that was the day Farmer proved that he was no longer the opponent. He was well on his way to becoming a world champion.And then he got shot in his hand at a party that nearly ended his boxing career. Well before he got shot, he tore his right bicep in the first round against Arturo Reyes and needed surgery. Oh, and a month before that he nearly drowned while vacationing in Puerto Rico when a river current nearly dragged him into an underwater cave.Yeah, 2017 wasn’t very kind to Tevin Farmer. But, strangely enough, the losses Farmer suffered early in his career and his childhood as a rough and rugged kid from Philadelphia set him up to overcome the adversity that may have been too much for the average individual. “I’m just a street guy,” Farmer says as he reflects on his childhood where he always found himself in trouble. “I’m hard as nails, man. I’m the nicest guy in the world, but not too many things are going to stop me. “One thing I can say is that boxing is definitely a different beast. It will humble a street dude real quick. I’ve seen guys that are cold killers get in the ring and get humbled. You have to be mentally strong and you got to be willing to go through whatever.”That stretch of bad luck in 2017 only incensed Farmer to work harder. And when a doctor said he wouldn’t be able to fight anymore after a bullet went through his hand at a family function gone wrong, Farmer decided that he’d work twice as hard to prove him wrong. After all, he was no longer the opponent who was expected to lose. He wanted to be a world champion. Five months after being shot, Farmer climbed into the ring against Kenichi Ogawa for the vacant IBF super featherweight title. The Philly fighter couldn’t close his right hand, but made do with it. Over the course of a nip and tuck battle, it appeared that Farmer had done enough to squeeze out the decision. But 2017 wasn’t done with him yet and judges awarded the decision to Ogawa.A dream deferred.MORE: Hooker vs. Ramirez: How to bet, expert pick and more“I won the title and they took it from me,” Farmer reflects. “When you get that close and lose you begin to wonder if you’ll ever get another chance.”Farmer’s 18-fight winning streak was over and some thought he’d become the opponent all over again. After all, a 25-5-1 record with five knockouts doesn’t sound all that spectacular in a sport that values undefeated records. And then Ogawa failed a drug test and was forced to vacate the title. Farmer would get another shot, but had to travel across the globe to get what was his. Last August, Farmer put together a dominant performance against Billy Dib in the Aussie’s backyard of Sydney, Australia to finally realize his dream of becoming a world champion. Later that month, he inked a multi-fight co-promotional deal with DiBella Entertainment and Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing USA. Hearn promised to help Farmer become a star by being active and the results have been promising. “I had no plan, but it I knew I would be successful,” Farmer says once he’s done reflecting on his past. He looks up at Rivas, who smiles. His wife also flashes a smile. It’s been a long road. As he prepares for Frenois, Farmer explains that he seldom spends time away from the gym and enjoys being active. Aside from that, he’s started planning for his exit from boxing as he’s made investments in real estate that have already seen returns for the IBF champion. “I’m taking the money I’ve made off of boxing and investing it into real estate so I have my money working for me,” he says. “I don’t have to fight for money. I’ve got this amount of money coming in every month from the money I already made and now I can say ‘no’ if an offer for a fight isn’t good enough. I know my value where other fighters are forced to take less for fights because they need the money.”Remember, when Gervonta Davis asked why would he fight Farmer? Well, now Farmer’s the IBF champion and the script has been flipped. While Davis remains one of the hottest talents in the sport, Farmer has proven his value as one of the best 130-pound fighters in the world. It may be time for those two to cross paths. “Oh, if we do cross paths, I’m going to beat the s— out of him,” Farmer says.But he has his concerns due to boxing politics that the fight won’t happen next.“For five years this fight has been built up. I want it. He says he wants it but politics might stop it from happening.“The fight will be no time soon, but when it does happen somebody ain’t going to offer the right amount of money and the fight won’t happen because I ain’t taken no shorts. I will not accept pennies for that fight and I know my value as a fighter.” Farmer’s career is kind of like the properties he’s invested in to flip on the market. He was a home that was filled with promise, but a little rough around the edges. Some houses just need a little TLC to reach their potential. “I’m a major part of why people don’t feel the same way about losses in boxing today,” he says. “I gave the boxing world hope. Others have come back after losses before, but nobody has done it like me.”Some people are unable to look past the blemishes and pass on the opportunity. But Chino Rivas, Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella believed in Farmer despite his losses and realized that he was a true diamond in the rough.And now he’s one of the hottest properties on the market.