HOUSTON — It hasn’t been easy securing fights for the former amateur star, Freudis Rojas Jr. When you are a 6’2 welterweight [147 pounds] with a 100% knockout ratio through your first 10 fights, opponents can be reluctant to get in the ring with you. Oh, did I mention he is a southpaw, an often-avoided stance. Lastly, he has sparred some of boxing’s best and held his own. But on Saturday, July 15th, Rojas Jr. will have his opportunity to show the world what he has to offer, when he faces, 19-2 (16 knockouts) Diego Santiago Sanchez on Showtime. The card is headlined by rising boxing super star, Frank Martin 17-0 (12 knockouts) facing fellow undefeated prospect, Artem Harutyunyan, 12-0 (7 knockouts). Freudis will be representing his father’s “0 to 100 Boxing Club,” while fighting in his hometown of Las Vegas, Nevada for the first time as a pro.
Zenger News catches up with “Freddy” just days before fight night to discuss what he hopes to be his breakout performance.
Zenger: Recently we have witnessed guys fighting at home not look their best, Regis Prograis in New Orleans, Jared Anderson in Ohio, they both won and performed good, but not their best. How do you avoid that coming back to Las Vegas on Saturday night?
Rojas Jr.: I’ve always said, if my team believes in me, I believe in myself. It can be a lot of pressure at times fighting in your hometown, but at the same time it’s a great joy because the whole city is behind you. I’m over here at “The Fight House” with Kay [Koroma]. We are focused, we have been training hard. I’m confident in myself. Everything is going to come out good on Saturday night.
Zenger: First fight in your hometown and it’s also your first scheduled 10 round bout. Do you feel like this is the fight where you can showcase all of your talents considering the opponent and the fact that no one has been able to go past 4 rounds with you?
Rojas Jr.: I feel like we’ve always trained every fight like it’s a world championship fight. I’m happy we got this opportunity for me to showcase my skills, not just in sparring. I’m just grateful for the opportunity that I have now to show that I can hang with these big boys in the big league.
Zenger: You are a 6’2 southpaw fighting at welterweight, and you have 10 knockouts in 10 fights. Has it been difficult securing fights?
Rojas Jr.: It’s very hard for me to get fights since I turned pro. I’ve been here in Vegas since April, and I’ve had two fights fall through. I stay in the gym constantly, but it is very hard for me to get fights, since I became pro 2 years ago. I thought I would have had way more fights by now, so it is hard, it is frustrating, because of the things you go through in camp, and pushing your body to the limits, but it is part of the business. It’s going to happen, now, we just do want it to happen so often (laughing).
Zenger: Joining forces with Sampson Boxing should rectify that. Sampson Lewkowicz does an amazing job of keeping his fighters busy.
Rojas Jr.: I think it was the best move for my career. I think Sampson is going to take me to the top, he has great fighters with him, so I have great stablemates there. I think this was the right move for me to take the next step.
Zenger: Diego Santiago Sanchez is the opponent, he is 19-2 with 16 knockouts, more knockouts than you have fights. How do you counter his experience?
Rojas Jr.: Just sticking to what I do best and perfecting it on Saturday night. We know that he is going to come and try to win the fight just like any other fighter. We have a gameplan, we think we have him figured out. We are just going to execute it that night.
Zenger: On paper, Sanchez looks like a huge step up in opposition. Is this the type of opponent you wanted, or just the guy who accepted the challenge?
Rojas Jr.: We wanted this fighter because we want to prove to people that I’m not just someone who was a successful amateur and hitting a downward spiral at the pro level. I want to let people know that I can make it here and I just don’t have an amateur style. I belong in the pros. This is what I love. On Saturday night, I will prove people wrong and leave the world shocked.
Zenger: What was your initial reaction to receiving the call for a fight of this magnitude on Showtime?
Rojas Jr.: It was crazy. I was sitting down eating one of my meal preps, and I get a call from my dad, “Hey, guess what, you’re fighting on the Frank Martin card.” That was a real emotional moment for me and my team. They know the struggles that I’ve been through in the amateurs and coming into the pros. Just to get this opportunity that I thought I would get right out of the amateurs with the resume that I had. It never happened, but now it’s here. Things take time and everybody starts off in a different way. I’m just glad I finally got the opportunity.
Zenger: To have your father, who is a former boxer, and your family in close alignment with your career, what does that mean to you?
Rojas Jr.: It’s a big thing. I’m a big family person. Family is everything to me. Having them here… they’ve always been supportive my whole life. For this training camp, I haven’t seen my family for like 3 months. So, being able to see my sisters, my father just came in this week, brings joy to my heart. They have always been there for me. They have probably spent more than a half a million dollars on me with this boxing thing since I was a kid. Just having them and the support, and having them here with me sharing this moment, is the greatest feeling that I could ever ask for.
Zenger: Is this a high-pressure fight for you, or simply just your moment to shine?
Rojas Jr.: I’m taking this as a very big fight. I’m very confident in what I’m going to do Saturday night. I know he’s bringing his best and he knows I will bring mine. God first, I come out with the win, and get to celebrate with my family.
Zenger: Are you hoping this leads to a busy end of the year for you?
Rojas Jr.: For sure I will be more active in 2023 with Sampson. We already have some fights on schedule and thinking of fighting on some cards. I’m very excited. I’m very happy that I will be fighting more this year. I’m hoping to be fighting another 3 or 4 times this year, and then hopefully next year… if I can do 6 fights, that would be even better.
Zenger: We have Spence and Crawford later this month, but there are a lot of other moving parts in the welterweight division. Where do you see yourself fitting in?
Rojas Jr.: I feel like I’m one of the guys up there. I sparred with most of the guys who are considered the top guys and I’ve done well against them. For me to learn some tricks from them and gain that experience, it’s great. I believe I’m there with them. If you believe in yourself, who can take that away from you?
Zenger: Before you go, tell us about your fathers, “0 To 100 Boxing Club.”
Rojas Jr.: It means a lot to me to represent the gym while I’m exposing myself to the boxing world and the boxing fans. Basically, all of the athletes from my father’s gym will be coming to Vegas to watch me fight. It’s great to have that motivation. Seeing the kids and parents believe in me. They approach me and say that they want to be just like me. That’s why I take this fight so serious. Every fighter that gets in that ring has my respect because everybody can’t do this. I’m excited for Saturday night. Me and my team is confident in my tools that we have been practicing. God first, we will be victorious on Saturday night.
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