Cosmopolitan character: Sanjeev Sahota interview
Unbeaten super lightweight Sanjeev Sahota (8-0) is a proud cosmopolitan character who was born in Britain, raised in Spain and has strong roots in India. He recently took the time to share his thoughts on his boxing journey to date with Paul Zanon...
BM: How did you get into boxing?
SS: I was a bit of an overweight child at a young age and at the time had moved to Spain. I got inspired by the programme ‘The Contender,’ and that’s how I found my passion for the sport of boxing. I did try every other sport, but boxing is where my interest was.
BM: You are currently 8-0. Any titles in your sights in the next 12 months?
SS: My manager has said that if I get another two or three wins he can maybe get me a title shot or some kind. Ideally, middle to the end of next year, that would be good. Titles are nice, but over the years, the most inspiring thing to me in boxing has been role models, not titles. Hopefully, with or without titles, I could also be a role model in terms of following your dreams, if you are willing to put the work in. I would have never thought, as an overweight child that was often bullied at school, that I’d be a professional boxer one day. Boxing has given me a healthy lifestyle, discipline, structure and focus, and I’d like to be able to spread that ethic to inspire people in general life, whether it’s in sport or business.
BM: Toughest fight to date?
SS: Probably my last one [at the Copper Box, 15 July 2017, against Luka Leskovic]. He was a tough, durable opponent. I also learnt a lot from my fourth fight in Harrow against Fonz Alexander, where I hit the canvas and had to come back and win it. I know each fight is going to be tough, that’s why I try and train as hard as possible, to make it easier on the night of the fight.
BM: You are very proud of your Indian heritage. How much of a buzz was it to fight in front of a large crowd at the Thyagaraj Stadium in Delhi, in only your third fight?...and win!
SS: The magnitude of that was incredible. What an amazing experience. I was the underdog in that fight because the guy I was fighting [Vikas Kumar] was the local state champion. When I first walked out, the crowd were all cheering for the other fighter, but as the fight went on, I won the crowd over and that was incredible. It was like the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but in New Delhi! It was also great to be part of history, because this was the first professional boxing event in the whole of India.
BM: Best person you have sparred so far?
SS: I’ve sparred some good guys, so I can’t nail down one... I’d have to go with Kiko Martinez and Josh Taylor. Great fighters and total gentlemen.
BM: Who’s the best super lightweight in the world in your opinion?
SS: I’d have to go with Terence Crawford, but there’s some good guys in there like Adrien Broner and Viktor Postol, but Crawford is the best.
BM: Domestically – anyone you would like to fight?
SS: No. I’m not going to say anything, because I’m not the kind of person who goes out and trash talks and calls people out. There’s enough boxers like that. I’ll leave that to them. You need to be a gentleman outside the ring and fighter inside. Keep it nice and simple. All I can say is that I want to fight the best, so I can be the best.
BM: Do you model your style on anybody?
SS: I like Canelo [Saul Alvarez] and [Miguel] Cotto. I learn a lot from their styles in relation to how my style is now and how it’s developing.
BM: What are your strengths as a boxer?
SS: I’m a forward coming fighter. I like to break my opponents down.
BM: Any parts of your game you are working to improve on?
SS: Working on the basics at the moment like the jab, movement, footwork. Basics win fights. The last two fights have been mainly about the jab. Every fight is a learning fight.
BM: Mayweather vs McGregor. Your views and what happens?
SS: If it was an MMA fight, it would be McGregor, but because this is a boxing match, 100 per cent this is going to be Mayweather.
BM: If you could spar three rounds with any boxing legend, past or present, who would it be?
SS: I can’t choose just one! I’d love to spar Canelo, Pacquiao and Mayweather. Separately obviously! What a great experience that would be.