(Grand Rapids, MI) – An 11PM text came through: “Jordan has sparred 105 rounds since April 4, we plan another 100+ over the next 2.5 weeks.” An early morning text a day later: “Jordan just finished a 12 mile run.” Yet another text the next night: “Jordan went 12 rounds tonight with alternating sparring partners, he looked great in round 12.”
A few weeks ago I contacted Dennis Shimmell, the trainer (and father) of cruiserweight world title contender Jordan Shimmell (20-1, 16 KO). I asked him if he could keep me updated on Jordan’s training for the most important fight of his life on May 17th. I have been around the boxing game enough to know how brutal training camps can be, but I’m not sure I’ve seen a fighter work as hard as Shimmell has been working since accepting the IBF World Title Eliminator bout vs. Murat Gassiev (22-0, 16 KO’s). The fight is scheduled for national TV on the FS1 Toe To Toe Tuesday boxing series, live from Black Bear Casino in northern Minnesota (brought to you by Warriors Promotions and Premier Boxing Champions).
Jordan’s work ethic is becoming business as usual for the people who work out at the MGGA St. Mary’s gym. People that aren’t used to working out with him learn very quickly how focused Shimmell is. Pro boxer Paul “Pay-Per-View” Parker (8-1, 4 KO) recently posted on his Facebook page “10 miles this morning in 1 hour 19 minutes! Big Thanks to Jordan Shimmell for helping me DESTROY my plateau of 6 miles! Came to camp to help out but I’m receiving help on how to push myself to the next level!”
Shimmell is aware of the need to push himself to the next level for this fight. “This is the first time in my career that I’m scheduled for 12 rounds, so I’m pushing myself to go 12 rounds and push it hard each round,” said Shimmell before a long sparring session. “I’ve amped up everything. More sparring, more running, more cardio. This is the most important fight I’ve had and I’m going to make sure I’m ready.”
Jordan Shimmell is one of the most decorated amateur boxers to ever come out of Michigan, a state with a rich boxing history. He steamrolled his first 19 pro opponents as well before he fought fellow undefeated boxer Isiah Thomas on national television in July of 2015. It was an off night for Shimmell, who lost by decision. He has since pummeled Willis Lockett, which set up this career defining fight against Gassiev.
“I’ve now been through the pressure of a national TV fight, I’ve also fought at the venue in Minnesota before so I won’t have any excuses. Nothing about this fight will be new or different, so as long as I prepare myself the way I know I can, there should be no surprises on fight night this time,” said a focused Shimmell.
Jermaine Franklin (6-0, 5 KO), a powerful young heavyweight, tells me he wouldn’t be the boxer he is today if it wasn’t for Jordan Shimmell.
“I started training with Jordan when I was 17,” said Franklin, soaked from head to toe after an early morning sparring session with Shimmell. “His stamina is amazing. I learned early in my career from him that if you don’t train hard you won’t be successful once the level of competition increases. Working hard to build cardio and stamina is something that he pushed on me right from the beginning. He taught me how to push myself.”
After witnessing first hand the training Shimmell does on a daily basis, I asked Jordan about a hot topic lately. Is it possible he’s overtraining?
“No, not at all. I’m getting better. I’m getting faster. I’m getting stronger. I’m still going in the right direction and I feel I can still push myself harder. I feel extremely healthy and I think the way I train has helped me achieve that. I haven’t peaked,” said Shimmell, who then politely excused himself to climb into the ring.
Another of Shimmell’s training partners, amateur Cam Glenn, won his 3rd Michigan Golden Gloves State Championship the night before, and he’s back in the gym training with Jordan today. Glenn credits Shimmell for much of his success.
“Jordan is impossible to hit,” said Glenn. “His skill level for a guy his size is something you don’t come across very often. It took me a long time before I could even get to the point where I could hit him, but at least now we can trade some blows back and forth. He used to be nice to me and hold back some of his power, but he’s not holding back anymore. Training with him prepares me for anything in the ring. He’s super competitive, and his style changes constantly so I have to prepare for everything when we spar.”
They say you can spot a champion by watching how hard he works in the gym when he thinks nobody is watching. If that’s the case, Jordan Shimmell will be a champion for a long time.