Frank Sanchez knew that the right opponent would help reveal his career-long insistence that he belongs among the sport’s best heavyweights. (photo by Ryan Hafey)
The unbeaten rising contender proved just that in latest win, a convincing ten-round decision over Efe Ajagba in their battle of undefeated heavyweights this past October 9 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. Sanchez (19-0, 13KOs) was viewed as the superior technician heading into the fight, while Ajagba (15-1, 12KOs) was expected to test the chin of the Cuban export.
The opposite transpired, with Sanchez flooring Ajagba in the seventh round en route to a convincing win on the ESPN/Fox Sports Pay-Per-View undercard headlined by lineal/WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury’s eleventh-round knockout of Deontay Wilder in their memorable trilogy clash. The sequence was hardly surprising to Sanchez, who hoped to silence at least a few detractors ahead of his next fight, which comes versus Germany’s Christian Hammer—a late replacement for Carlos Negron (Covid)—this Saturday on Fox Sports Pay-Per-View from Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
“The most important thing I learned from the Efe Ajagba fight was to not listen to the outside noise,” Sanchez told BoxingScene.com and other reporters during a recent Zoom media conference call to otherwise discuss his fight this weekend. “All I heard about was how he knocks everyone out. But it’s not just about how hard you punch, but it’s about your technique and skill level. During the fight, I realized that I was able to steamroll him.
“That was the main lesson for me. The talk outside the ring isn’t as important as what you can do once the bell rings.”
Sanchez walked away from the perceived test unscathed to the point of enjoying a quicker than expected ring turnaround. The New Year’s Day clash with Hammer (26-8, 16KOs)—scheduled for ten rounds—comes less than three months after the win over Ajagba and his fifth fight in a span of just under fourteen months.
“My fight in October was easier than I had expected,” noted Sanchez, a stablemate of pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (57-1-2, 39KOs) under renowned trainer Eddy Reynoso. “So, when I was asked about fighting on January 1, I did not hesitate. I fought well in my last fight and I wanted to carry that momentum over to 2022.”
Sanchez-Hammer serves as the chief support of an all-heavyweight Fox Sports PPV event topped by a twelve-round clash between former titlist Charles Martin (28-2-1, 25KOs) and two-time title challenger Luis Ortiz (32-2, 27KOs).
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox