Frank Sanchez continues his climb up the heavyweight ranks.
With stablemate and pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez decked out in Dolce & Gabanna pajamas at ringside, Miami’s Sanchez preserved his unbeaten record with a ten-round shutout of late replacement Christian Hammer. All three judges scored the contest 100-89 in favor of Sanchez in the Fox Sports Pay-Per-View co-feature Saturday evening from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
Sanchez spent the entirety of his training camp preparing for Puerto Rico’s Carlos Negron (25-3, 20KOs), who was forced to withdraw this past Tuesday after testing positive for Covid. Hammer was on hand in support of stablemates Viktor Faust and Ali Eren Demirezen—both of whom claimed stoppage wins on the undercard—and as a stand-by opponent, though more intended to salvage the main event if either side dropped off the card.
The Germany-based Romanian was instead asked to replace Negron to allow Sanchez to preserve his place on the show. The unbeaten Cuban made the most of the late switch, using the early rounds to pepper Hammer with jabs before increasing the power behind his shots in ensuing rounds.
Sanchez worked the fleshy body of Hammer throughout round three. Hammer was already fighting behind an earmuff defense when a left hook to the ribs forced him to double over. Sanchez picked his shots, absorbing the advice of two-time Trainer of the Year Eddy Reynoso to remain calm and not waste energy.
The instructions were followed almost to a fault. Action dramatically decreased as the rounds progressed. Hammer is a seasoned veteran who knows his way around a ring. Sanchez picked up on it, choosing to box and settle for whatever openings were made available rather than press the action and force the short notice Hammer to fight at a faster than desired pace.
Sanchez through a purposeful jab throughout round seven, circling to his left and punching through Hammer’s high guard. Sanchez would also connect with right hands to the body, though not offering any more behind any particular shot to make Hammer pay. The lack of overall aggression grew of concern to Reynoso who urged his charge to force the action and potentially close the show.
Hammer just didn’t make it easy for Sanchez to deliver an entertaining fight. The 34-year-old heavyweight plodded forward, though unable to pin down Sanchez who used lateral movement to tire his foe but not enough offense to keep the crowd engage or present the threat of a knockout.
Sanchez opened the tenth and final round as if he would close the show. The closest he would come was a knockdown call in the final fifteen seconds, when a left hand had Hammer (26-9, 16KOs) off balance and a forearm finishing the job. Referee Samuel Burgos issued a count, though the call didn’t have any impact on the final scorecards.
Sanchez advances to 20-0 (13KOs) with the win, coming less than three months after a more memorable points victory over Efe Ajagba in their battle of unbeaten prospects last October 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The Fox Sports PPV show is headlined by top-rated contender Luis Ortiz (32-2, 27KOs) and former IBF titlist Charles Martin (28-2-1, 25KOs) in a title eliminator.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox