Jordan Panthen: I’m a Really Nice Guy. But When It’s in The Ring, Things Change – War Mentality

Boxing Scene

For every fighter who gets to the championship level in boxing, there’s a time when the buzz starts, when people are talking, and all eyes begin watching every step that fighter makes.

Junior middleweight prospect Jordan Panthen is in that position right now. Whether he wears a world championship belt or not is something that the future will answer, but, as he approaches his seventh pro fight this Thursday at The Hangar in Costa Mesa, the buzz has begun.

“I see a little bit of it,” Panthen admits. “I was never worried if it was going to blow up or not because I always knew it was. I wasn’t even worried about it. I knew it was coming in a confident way, not a cocky way, because I’m going to be undeniable with my skills, and my marketability, the persona, the person that I just am naturally is one of a kind. So I knew it’s going to come. I was never rushing, I was always just doing my thing, and I knew one day it would start slowly turning around. So I’m going to continue to keep in the gym, do what I do best, train, get in the ring, fight and be who I am. And I know things will keep moving forward.”

Already 6-0 as a pro with five knockouts heading into his fight with 32-fight veteran Adam Diu Abdulhamid, Poughkeepsie, New York native Panthen is currently training in North Hollywood with Julian Chua at Brickhouse Boxing Gym, but he made his bones in Hawaii, where he moved with his family to start his high school years. There, the all-round athlete from New York learned that to survive in his new digs, he had to be ready to fight – not necessarily in a being bullied or bad blood way, but because it was part of the culture.

“Fighting’s the thing out there,” he said. “There’s school fights and fights all the time, but it’s respectable: standup, hands and feet only, no ground, and shake hands after. And in Hawaii, you got to know how at least to throw a 1-2 or you’re going to be in trouble.”

Panthen found out quickly that he was going to be more trouble for his opponents than they were going to be for him. In the process, he found a passion that would one day become his livelihood.

“I wasn’t the backing down type,” he recalled. “So I stood up for myself, and that’s when I got into boxing and fighting and it fit right into me. I was always an aggressive kid and I always liked aggressive sports. I did wrestling and just didn’t like it as much as boxing, and I finally stopped. I went out, went to the gym and started learning how to box properly and just fell in love with it. Next thing I knew, I was 15 years old and beating the crap out of 30-year-olds.”

Panthen won a USA National Championship and the National Golden Gloves as an amateur, then turned pro in the summer of 2022. Yet at 25 years old, and with just 33 amateur fights under his belt, he had to make up for the experience gap he was going to be facing on the way up the professional ladder.

That’s when sparring came in, and in the year-and-a-half he’s been piling up wins in the ring on fight night, he’s making a name for himself in the gym on sparring days. It’s gotten that aforementioned buzz going, but it’s also made it difficult at times for him to get fights.

“We’ve had that issue getting certain fights and better opposition already in my career. I’ve had a lot of guys turn me down, even for this fight. So I’ve already experienced that a little bit, even with sparring, too. I spar one guy, beat the crap out of him, and they don’t come back. We got two guys lined up for sparring, I show up to the gym at 11am, and it’s ‘Oh, we can’t make it,’ and I’m scrambling to find sparring partners. So, believe it or not, I do experience that already, but with time comes experience, and little by little, the more my name gets out there, I believe that will be less of a problem. That’s just part of the game. Even the top guys have to deal with that, and you have to roll with the punches, work your way around that and try to do your best to make the fights that you want to happen, and the fans want to happen.”

So the reputation of Panthen is getting around, but while he’s garnered that reputation as someone you don’t want to meet in the ring or the gym, the 27-year-old makes it clear that he isn’t taking cheap shots or making sparring sessions into fights. If he’s there to simply help give his partner some work, he’ll do that. And if he and his opponent have the go-ahead to fire away, he’s got no problem doing that, either. But he’s not in there to shave years off his career with gym wars.

“I think sparring is the most important thing about training,” Panthen said. “But if you’re getting beat up in sparring and taking damage, that’s not good. I’m never on the bad side of sparring, I’m never getting hit too much or getting beat up, so that’s not really an issue. If somebody was getting beat up in sparring, I would agree, it’s not a good thing; you don’t to get punched too much before your own fight. But sparring is super important and, for me, it depends on the sparring partner. Do I have the green light to do what I want and go at him? No. Okay, because if you want them to come back, I can’t put a beating on them.”

But when it’s green light season, Panthen goes. 

“I know how to box a hundred percent full-on, the same speed, the same intensity, but the power is different. I just call it open hand sparring because my hands are a little open. I’m not putting my punches down hard. But sparring is very important, and I like to spar intense.”

It’s why a recent press release quoted former world champion Paulie Malignaggi as saying Panthen is “A fighter with a mean streak that has a passion to give fight fans what they want.” 

And Deontay Wilder’s trainer, Malik Scott, said of “The Patriot,” “I’ve watched him spar against some of the best in the world and his evil energy remained the same. He punches with very bad intentions.”

I ask the affable Panthen where this mean streak comes from. He laughs.

“I am a really nice guy. But when it’s in the ring, things change. I have that side of me, it’s a war mentality, a battle mentality. Two words: be ruthless. I’m trying to take your head off. It’s something I can’t control, it’s something that just happens. I’m coming in the ring, and I want to beat the sh!t out of you. And I hope you’re trying to do the same to me because I expect you to do the same to me. So you can try, but I’m going to be ruthless, be relentless, coming at you nonstop. I’m coming for blood and I’m going to break you in half.”

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