In a recent interview with Fight Hub TV, veteran boxing trainer Abel Sanchez shared his insights on some of the industry’s most talked-about topics: Claressa Shields challenging Keith Thurman and the Jake Paul phenomenon.
Claressa Shields calls out Keith Thurman
“That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard,” Sanchez said about Shields calling out Keith Thurman. “Keith Thurman is a gentleman… ask any woman fighter that’s sparred in the gym, and they’ll tell you that the guys have to take it easy on them. Keith probably would not try to do to her what he would try to do to Terrence, or anybody else he fought”
Sanchez, not one to pull punches, minced no words when discussing Shields’ audacious call-out of Keith “One Time” Thurman. Is it brash, brave, or simply foolish? Sanchez makes it clear he thinks it’s a blow below the belt, undermining the serious competitors in the sport.
Jake Paul’s Quest for Gold: A Wild Swing?
“You have to stay in your lane,” Sanchez stated. “He’s a young kid… but until you fight somebody that’s relevant, it’s a good gimmick.”
YouTube star turned boxer Jake Paul has been claiming he’s destined for greatness. He’s even been eyeing legends like Canelo. Sanchez is skeptical, urging Paul to focus on legitimate boxers rather than MMA crossovers.
So what separates real contenders from the pretenders? How can someone who’s been training for just a few years demand fights with the likes of Canelo? Sanchez poses a critical question to consider:
“Would you say a guy who’s 10-0 needs to fight Canelo? Why him? Because he’s a celebrity?”
The Myth of MMA vs. Boxing
“They’re MMA fighters; they’re not boxers. Let him fight MMA against those ex-champions. If you can be a boxer, fight boxers,” insisted Sanchez.
Sanchez questions the merit of MMA fighters transitioning to boxing or taking on established boxers in the ring. What’s the game here? Is it merely a publicity stunt, or is there genuine competition? But really, can an MMA background give you a legitimate foothold in the boxing world?
“It’s two different crafts. What MMA fighter has beaten a boxer?”
“If you’re an MMA fighter, a wrestler, a basketball player, or whatever, and you want to get into boxing, that’s fine. But understand that boxing is a science; it’s the ‘sweet science’ for a reason. Don’t disrespect the sport and its athletes by thinking you can just step into our world without paying your dues.”
Sanchez raises a crucial point. Is it fair for fighters like Jake Paul to jump the line, so to speak, when there are dedicated professionals who’ve been sweating it out for years? Doesn’t this undermine the very integrity of the sport? If the journey to greatness is a marathon, are these fighters looking for a shortcut?
“It’s not fair to the guys that are boiling in the gyms… to give credence to somebody just because he’s been in the gym four years,” Sanchez added.
On the Role of Social Media and Marketing
“Look, social media can be good for the sport—it brings in a younger audience, it helps fighters promote themselves. But it also creates a lot of noise and distraction. We need to focus on what’s real and what’s not. A million followers don’t mean you can fight; it just means you’re popular.”
On What Makes a True Champion
“The gym is where champions are built. And not just any gym, but the gyms where you’re pushed to your limit every single day. It’s not about the glitz and glamour; it’s about hard work, sacrifice, and perseverance. There’s no shortcut to greatness. Your skills have to be honed, your will has to be tested, and you have to prove yourself against the best to be the best. That’s how you become a true champion.
It’s a long road, and there are no shortcuts.”
On Matchmaking and “Cherry-Picking” Fights
Sanchez is particularly annoyed by the tendency for some fighters to avoid the most challenging matches:
“Listen, every boxer wants to get paid, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But when you deliberately dodge legitimate challengers to go for a cash-grab, it cheapens your legacy. Great fighters of the past fought whoever was put in front of them. They didn’t ask how many Instagram followers the other guy had before signing the contract.”
On the Role of Promoters and Agents
Sanchez touches on how the business side of boxing impacts the sport:
“Promoters and agents have a role to play, but they need to understand that they’re not bigger than the sport. They shouldn’t be making matches that serve their interests over the integrity of boxing. We need matchups that the fans want to see, that the fighters want, not just what fills someone’s pockets.”