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Tszyu Sparring Has Ambitious Panthen Ready For Hudaynazarov Fight

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There’s a lot of talk about Jordan Panthen these days. You might assume it’s because the all-action middleweight is seeking his eighth pro win this Thursday in Costa Mesa against Ravshan Hudaynazarov.

Well, there’s a little of that. But more of the chatter surrounding the 27-year-old prospect is how he’s an all-action fighter who is in the process of perfecting the art of sparring, and how that reputation is getting around. Panthen is starting to see and hear the same things everyone else is, too.

“Yeah, I see it,” he said. “I feel it inside my own gym. I get crowds watching me spar and watching me train. It’s developing and I’m not surprised. Not in a cocky way, but I’m just confident. There’s no one else like me in the sport of boxing and nobody represents what I represent or carries themselves like I do. I’m here to bring back American boxing in a different type of way. So I’m just another fighter, just another boxer that’s good and up and coming, but I’m more than that. I’m going to start a whole new movement.”

Ambitious words, the kind that will paint a bright red target on your back. But you get the impression that Panthen welcomes anyone who wants to test him, either in the gym or on fight night. As far as fight night goes, there aren’t too many takers, and even on sparring days, the line of dance partners dwindles with each passing week. But when someone does show up to do some rounds with the New York native, the sounds of jump ropes, speed bags and heavy bags dwindle to a low murmur.

“Things get quiet,” Panthen laughs. “But it’s hard to get sparring. Every camp has been a little harder. I think we even had to pay for some sparring partners. My last sparring on Monday, they no-showed me the Friday before and we got them to show up and they came in heated. They tried to talk to me and what not and I talked right back to them. It is very exciting sparring. But it gets very quiet. Everybody’s watching. It’s all friendly afterwards but I like intensity. So, I say, come back, bring the intensity and bring that bravado. It’s good. I like somebody coming in the gym new who wants to bring that intensity, but it doesn’t usually go so well for them. But let’s see, I hope they come back.”

Panthen talks about sparring the way most talk about fights. He can tell you every detail, every feeling he felt, everything he was trying to work on. Maybe that’s because, to him, the only way to get ready for a fight is to fight. And that’s the art of it. Going hard enough to simulate a “real” fight, while knowing when to pull back and when to focus solely on the technical aspects of the game.

“Sparring is super important,” Panthen explains. “Now let me correct everybody. You might be thinking I go into sparring trying to kill someone. Sometimes it’s intense and you want to go, but it depends on who’s in front of you, who I got for today, what we’re working on. Some days I feel like 110 per cent, some days I don’t feel 110 per cent, but I got to push through, and those are actually the best days, when we don’t feel super bouncy, super fast, super explosive. But then you got to push through eight or 10 rounds of hard sparring. It really depends on what we’re working on that day.

But sparring is super important. It’s where you test your cardio the most. At least that’s how I look at it. How do you give yourself the self-confidence stamp that I’m ready for the fight? And it’s also where you develop when you get to high-level sparring sessions, which I love. It’s where you develop, it’s where you learn.”

Panthen got some of that high-level work with Tim Tszyu before the Australian’s title fight with Sebastian Fundora last weekend, and he loved every minute of it.

“My mindset was to go in there and make myself known, go in there and make a statement in a way, and it was good sparring,” said Panthen. “They’re great people. I figured that and knew before I went there that they’d be great people and super friendly. But we went in there and were both very intense. We have a lot of similarities, and it was very good sparring.” 

After working with the champ on a Tuesday and Thursday, Panthen’s job was done. And when it was over, he analyzed the sessions, like he always does, and realized that he could hang on a world championship level. Then again, as he puts it, he already knew that.

“I could certainly hang with this level again,” he said. “I’ve grown so much since I came to California from Hawaii, and people see my age, but really, in terms of boxing experience, I’ve got five years of boxing experience. I’m so young in this game and I’ve grown so much. So I definitely can hang at that level. For example, when I first came to California, guys who outdid me in sparring, now I outdo them. Guys who were competitive in sparring don’t belong in the ring with me anymore. My development rate and the way I am improving is outpacing everyone else. And I’m going to get a lot better. I feel like I’m still a couple years away from my peak. I still feel very young, I’m still learning and I’m absorbing everything. And that’s why I think, for me personally, high-level sparring and hard sparring is very important for myself at this point in my career.”

On Thursday, he puts it into action under the lights. With all this talk of sparring and being in the ring with Tim Tszyu, he still has a fight to take care of, but he knows that. And he will act accordingly. 

“I like treating everybody like a threat,” Panthen said. “And I like taking everything very seriously. I take training very seriously, sparring very seriously. So I don’t overlook anybody. I’m going to follow a game plan. I’m not going to bum rush this guy. This guy is a veteran from Uzbekistan, a good amateur background, and I’m treating him like he’s very dangerous. I’m training for him like I’m fighting for the world championship. And that’s how I train for every fight because it’s not about who I’m fighting, it’s about myself. I like to be fully prepared going into a fight as a true professional.”

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