Alex Saucedo produced the type of performance he promised Tuesday night.
The aggressive junior welterweight contender connected with plenty of power punches, demonstrated some moderate defensive improvement, got in much-needed rounds and beat Sonny Fredrickson by unanimous decision in their 10-round fight in Las Vegas. Judges Max De Luca (99-91), Dave Moretti (100-90) and Patricia Morse Jarman (98-92) all scored the bout for Saucedo by comfortable margins.
Saucedo got hit at times, but not as much as usual in the main event of ESPN’s four-fight telecast from MGM Grand Conference Center.
The 26-year-old Saucedo, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, improved to 30-1 and did not suffer a cut in the longest fight of his career. The 25-year-old Fredrickson (21-3, 14 KOs), of Toledo, Ohio, lost a second straight bout.
“I would say it’s like a C-plus maybe,” Saucedo told ESPN’s Bernardo Osuna when asked to grade his performance. “It was a good performance. I was able to get the rounds in, get some experience. I felt a little better than before. My movement was better. I still got caught with some punches I don’t wanna get caught with, so we’ve definitely got a lot of work to do still.”
According to CompuBox’s unofficial statistics, a much more active Saucedo landed 318-of-885 overall punches, 124 more than the taller, longer Fredrickson (194-of-390), who too often fought with his back against the ropes.
Before Tuesday night, Saucedo had boxed just once since Maurice Hooker stopped him in the seventh round of their fight for Hooker’s WBO junior welterweight title in November 2018 in Oklahoma City. That fight, a first-round knockout of Rod Salka, lasted only two minutes and 17 seconds November 2 in Carson, California.
The Fredrickson fight was the first in which Saucedo had time to show what his new trainers, Pedro Neme Jr. and Eddie Autrey, taught him over the past 15 months. Saucedo left veteran trainer Abel Sanchez for Neme and Autrey following his loss to Hooker (27-1-3, 18 KOs).
By the final round Tuesday night, the outcome was obvious, barring Fredrickson finally hurting Saucedo with a punch.
Fredrickson connected with two hard right hands in the opening minute of the final round. Saucedo took those punches well, though, and continued landing right hands on the retreating Fredrickson.
The start of the ninth round marked the first time Saucedo boxed past eight rounds in 8½ years as a pro. He pressured a fading Fredrickson in that round.
Fredrickson and Saucedo each landed hard right hands in the center of the ring toward the end of the eighth round. Fredrickson did a better job of avoiding the ropes in those three minutes.
An aggressive Saucedo landed several hard shots in the first half of the seventh round. Fredrickson connected with two hard, overhand rights and a right uppercut later in the seventh, but Saucedo maintained control and continued to out-land Fredrickson, particularly when Fredrickson backed into the ropes.
Saucedo made Fredrickson pay with a right hand after Fredrickson missed with a right uppercut early in the sixth round. With just over a minute remaining in the sixth, Saucedo drilled Fredrickson with a right hand that backed him into the ropes, and followed with three more hard, right hands.
A right uppercut by Fredrickson snapped back Saucedo’s head early in the fifth round. Saucedo connected with various power punches later in the fifth, as they traded from the inside at times.
Fredrickson started the fourth round strong, as he landed body and head shots on Saucedo in the center of the ring. Saucedo soon backed Fredrickson toward the ropes again, and he began landing as Fredrickson tried to cover up.
Fredrickson snapped back Saucedo’s head with a hard, right uppercut with just under a minute to go in the fourth round.
Saucedo backed Fredrickson into the ropes early in the third round, where Fredrickson traded with him. Saucedo kept pressuring Fredrickson in the third round, but he didn’t land as many shots on him as Saucedo did during the second round.
Saucedo continued his assault on Fredrickson throughout a one-sided second round in which he landed several flush right hands that made Fredrickson retreat. Fredrickson tried to fend off Saucedo with his jab, but he was mostly unsuccessful.
Saucedo defended himself well in those second three minutes as well.
Fredrickson’s right uppercut snapped back Saucedo’s head 45 seconds into the first round. A right hand by Saucedo buzzed Fredrickson with 42 seconds left in the opening round.
Saucedo followed up with a barrage of power punches that knocked Fredrickson into the ropes, including a left hook that made Fredrickson stumble across the ring. Fredrickson survived the trouble and made it to the end of the round.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.