Heavyweight Frank Sanchez has a new opponent in Christian Hammer but has a goal to do to Hammer what Luis Ortiz couldn’t–score a knockout.
Cuban heavyweight boxers Frank Sanchez and Luiz Ortiz are on the same Jan. 1 boxing card, but in separate matches. That doesn’t mean that they’re not competing against each other.
Sanchez (19-0, 13 KOs) is one of the best heavyweights in the world. The 29-year-old had an impressive 2021, which he capped off with a unanimous decision victory over previously unbeaten Efe Ajagba.
Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) was dormant for 2021 but is still regarded as one of the best heavyweights in the world, despite being 42 years old. His two losses came against Deontay Wilder in competitive matches that saw Wilder stop Ortiz in both bouts.
Sanchez was supposed to fight Carlos Negron, but Negron tested positive for COVID-19 early in fight week. Journeyman Christian Hammer takes his place. COVID is on the rise, but Hammer’s positive test still came as a surprise for Sanchez.
“I actually didn’t think it was gonna happen because, you know, so close to the fight with the way that you know that we’ve made sure that we take care of ourselves,” Sanchez told FanSided through an interpreter. “Making sure that we get to the fight, I didn’t think it was likely, but it did happen. I hope he’s okay. I hope he’s healthy.”
Heavyweights Frank Sanchez and Luis Ortiz star in separate boxing bouts in Fox’s Jan. 1 pay-per-view event
Sanchez found out about Negron’s positive test shortly before the public did.
“I just woke up this morning. They asked me, hey, you know, this happened. Are you up to fight Christian Hammer?” said Sanchez. “I said, yeah, because I’ve seen him fight. I’ve seen plenty of his fights, and you know, he’s strong, but he doesn’t have the versatility or technical aptitude that I have inside the ring. So I’m confident I can face him.”
Hammer (26-8, 16 KOs) is about the caliber of fighter you expect for a last-second replacement. He lost his last contest to Hughie Fury in October after suffering a biceps injury. Hammer is experienced and went the distance with Tony Yoka and Ortiz.
It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that Sanchez and Ortiz were placed on the same fight card in co-main events. This could be the penultimate to a Sanchez vs. Ortiz event later in 2022. Sanchez is aware that Hammer lasted against Ortiz and wants to outperform that result.
“Of course [I want to outperform Ortiz],” said Sanchez. “I want to knock him [Hammer] out. I want to show that I’m different. Hammer was able to withstand every single round against Ortiz. I want to show that I’m at the very highest level, and I can prevail before the final bell rings.”
For much of Sanchez’s career, he has fought like a tactical boxer, but he has looked more aggressive since linking up with Eddy Reynoso, Canelo Alvarez’s trainer. Sanchez has also noticed the difference in his fighting style since joining forces with Reynoso.
“Inside the ring, they have been such a great influence for me making me learn day after day,” said Sanchez.
Sanchez added, “My fighting style has changed drastically since I became part of Team Canelo, but also my mentality. It took a turn for much better, and you know, it’s been great.”
An aggressive Sanchez is a problem for any heavyweight in the world. Hammer might find that out the hard way, but so could Ortiz if the two face each other next.