Sonny Fredrickson faces world title challenger Alex Saucedo in a must-win Super Lightweight showdown tomorrow night on ESPN in “The Bubble” inside of the MGM Grand Conference Center — Grand Ballroom
Undefeated 130-pound prospect Albert Bell, the second fighter of this week’s Ohio 1-2 punch, faces Mark Bernaldez Thursday to box his way into contention
According to OhioHistoryCentral.com the state’s Division of Travel and Tourism rolled out its slogan “Ohio, The Heart of It All” in 1984. The fact Ohio’s produced the second most U.S. presidents, with seven, probably factored into the slogan’s creation in some way.
There are other schools of thought. Ohio, the 17th state of the Union is known as the “Buckeye State”, but visually the shape of the state resembles a heart. A pair of hungry Buckeye fighters are right at the heart of the Top Rank-led return of boxing during the coronavirus pandemic. At least they will be for the week starting June 28.
Tomorrow evening Toledo-based Super Lightweight Sonny Fredrickson faces Oklahoma’s Alex Saucedo in the main event of another Summer Series card. The fight airs live on ESPN from “The Bubble” inside Las Vegas’ MGM Grand Conference Center – Grand Ballroom. The start time is 8:00 ET/5:00 PT.
Two nights later fellow Toledoan Albert Bell, a 27-year old undefeated Super Featherweight, takes on Mark Bernaldez on a show headlined by the rescheduled Jose Pedraza vs Mikkel LesPierre Super Lightweight bout. Ohio’s first representative, 20-year old Heavyweight Jared Anderson (4-0, 4 KOs), overpowered Johnnie Langston in the co-main event of the June 9 show that served as boxing’s first live event since early March. According to a couple of posts on Anderson’s Instagram account, the former USA Boxing standout intends to be back in The Bubble on ESPN on July 9.
Bell (16-0, 5 KOs) was scheduled to headline a hometown card with Anderson, back in March, on the first weekend the sports world lost to the COVID-19 outbreak. Bernaldez (20-3, 14 KOs), hails from General Santos City, and will undoubtedly be upset-minded after watching Mike Plania – who resides in the same city in the Philippines – drop top-ranked Bantamweight contender Joshua Greer Jr twice to end the Chicagoan’s 19-fight win streak on June 16. Unfortunately for Bernaldez, he no longer has the element of surprise in toppling the slick, rangy Bell – the WBC’s 13-ranked Super Featherweight.
First Things First: Saucedo vs Fredrickson
Fredrickson (21-2, 14 KOs) makes his second appearance in a cable televised fight when he steps in the ring to clash with Saucedo (29-1, 19 KOs). Both fighters will be 26 years old after Fredrickson’s next birthday arrives in a little over two weeks. Saucedo’s birthday was June 24. However, the Oklahoman debuted in November 2011 and currently has fought a total of 23 more rounds than Fredrickson who turned pro in February 2014.
Of Saucedo’s 30 opponents, 13 of them had 15 or more wins at the time of their meeting. Seven of Fredrickson’s opponents have held 15 or more wins. Saucedo was stopped in the seventh round by WBO Super Lightweight champion Maurice Hooker in his hometown of Oklahoma City in November 2018.
Fredrickson defeated one-loss Gabriel Duluc during the prelims of the HBO PPV-televised Light Heavyweight championship bout featuring unified champion Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward in November 2016. His streak of 18 consecutive wins was derailed in January 2018 on a ShoBox: The New Generation telecast when he sustained a broken jaw in a third round technical knockout by Shohjahon Ergashev. Ergashev is now being discussed as a potential opponent for former division champion Regis Prograis.
When Fredrickson returned to the ring in September he ran off three more wins before a second trip to Washington, D.C. in that span resulted in a majority decision loss to fellow ShoBox alum Samuel Teah (15-3-1, 7 KOs). The bout had a weird ebb and flow, including a lengthy stoppage so the ring could be inspected, and in the end a questionable decision cost Fredrickson a USBA title he was defending for the second time.
Saucedo was out of action for a year following the rugged loss against Hooker. He returned to stop Rod Salka with a body shot in the first round of their November 2019 bout in Carson, CA.
Saucedo’s been to the summit Fredrickson has been trying to reach. Another loss for either man creates an even steeper climb back into the championship picture of one of boxing’s most talent-laden divisions. Saucedo knocked Hooker down in the second round before seeing his world title aspirations slip away five rounds later. He’ll lean on the experience garnered from that moment to be the major difference between him and Fredrickson.
Fredrickson has a 3-inch height advantage and a 4-inch edge in reach. With Saucedo expected to attempt to test out his toughness early, Fredrickson needs to command the former WBO No. 1-ranked Super Lightweight’s respect immediately. In the Teah fight Fredrickson frequently gave up his height and stayed in the pocket enough to allow Teah to look equally or more effective in the eyes’ of the judges. He’s not dynamic with his footwork and movement, but he will give himself a chance to be successful if he boxes sharply, manages his preferred distance consistently and remains hard to find when he doesn’t want to work.
Fredrickson is taller than Hooker, but his 76-inch reach falls short of the former champion’s unusual 80-inch measurement. Obviously he should incorporate some aspects of Hooker’s game plan, and be prepared for an aggressive start from Saucedo. Prior to the fight with Hooker, Saucedo came into his first world title shot on a streak of three stoppages, and he struck first with the knockdown in the second stanza that electrified his hometown following. Tomorrow night a crowd will not be factor for either man, so the keys will be focus, execution and a lot of heart. Of all, Fredrickson’s yet to have ever left that back in Ohio.
All photos by Mikey Williams/Top Rank