2014 has been a year of progressive step ups and pressure fights for Al Sands. There was increasing pressure every fight as his ranking and popularity in boxing has grown. On January 25, he stepped into the ring for his first main event at Black Bear Casino. He battled through a broken ear drum in round three to win a unanimous 8-round decision over Henry Namauu. This was his first time going the full distance in his pro career. Then on April 19, he boxed Keith Barr for his first major title, the NABA-US Cruiserweight title. This would be his second main event, but also his first 10-round fight, his first “Southpaw” (left handed) opponent, and first title fight outside of the MN State Title. More pressure, a greater stage. Al Sands won this match by 9th round TKO over a very well prepared Keith Barr. Following this fight would be Al Sands’ first defense of his Minnesota State Title against Harley Kilfian. This was Friday June 13th. This would be his first rematch of anyone he’d faced and his second 10-round fight. New pressure, high stakes. Al Sands won this match by 8th round TKO after brutal battle of trading back and forth power punches. During the fight Al Sands decked his opponent to the mat several times and got dropped by a sledge hammer of a punch himself, but he got up to finish things in thrilling fashion by pummeling Kilfian with punches in the corner till the ref saw enough. Al Sands took the summer off to let his body heal. Then it was time for his last fight of 2014 and biggest fight of his pro career; his match on October 25 with Andres Taylor. This was new pressure since it was a big step up in class from his earlier bouts. The last boxer to beat Andres Taylor earned a fight for the Interim WBA World Title! Winning this fight would send a message on the national level that Al Sands is on that same level. This was big pressure.
Training camp began with a steady pace of rebuilding the bond with the team. The lay off over the summer months had led to the team drifting apart and all parties needed to get back on the same page. Chuck Horton took the lead in camp and called Zach Walters in to train with Al Sands. Chuck Horton had them do punching drills and conditioning drills with one another to start with. Zach Walters imitated Andres Taylor’s moves and Al Sands honed his skills to fit the right mold. After that, Chuck Horton moved on to focusing more on Al Sands and getting more specific on what Sands needed to do to win his fight. By the time training camp closed for fight time Al Sands was performing at a world class level and he was ready for Andres Taylor.
Then came fight night; Al Sands went through his traditional routine of pre-fight preparation and entered the ring a focused assassin. Taylor glared across the ring behind a haunting metallic skeleton mask. Taylor charged out after the opening bell and asserted his best opening attack. Al Sands shook it off and got back to work establishing his game plan from camp. He took control of the fights and started snatching rounds away. Taylor came back with increased urgency and intensity in the 4th round. He threw a massive left hook that Al Sands partially blocked with his shoulder, but the punch knocked Sands off balance and scored a knockdown off his glove touching the canvas. From there Al Sands pushed the fight and kept control. Andres Taylor would occasionally come of the ropes with giant looping shots, but it was Sands who continually pushed the fight and landed the more telling punches.
With this win Al Sands wraps up the biggest year of his professional boxing career and extends his winning streak to 13. The ripple effect of this year will continue to grow in the coming months. It’s been a year that has cemented Al Sands as a prominent boxer on the national level and sets him up for a world of possibilities in 2015. For now we can look back at an incredible year for a young boxer chasing his dreams in the ring.