Freudis Rojas wasn’t eligible to compete for a spot on the United States men’s Olympic boxing team for the Rio de Janeiro games last summer. It wasn’t because of a lack of talent. He simply wasn’t old enough.
The Las Vegas native who goes by “Freddy” missed the cut by a few months, but it turned out to be a positive.
“Winning an Olympic gold medal is my dream, and I felt I could have made the team last year,” said Rojas, who turned 19 last month. “But at the same time, I’m kinda glad it didn’t happen. I needed a little more experience. I was just a kid and needed more time to go against grown men.”
Rojas, a Chaparral High graduate, got a jump start on the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo by taking the bronze medal in the light welterweight division during the AIBA World Championships last week in Hamburg, Germany.
“It’s really nerve-wracking. I’m not going to lie,” Rojas said. “Knowing that you’re facing the best in the world, and you have to qualify for world, it’s not like everyone gets to go. It was great to have the U.S. bring back so many medals.”
Rojas, one of six boxers who represented the U.S., won his first three bouts of the tournament, winning 14 out of 15 rounds before falling in the semifinals. Rojas is the first American to take home a medal in the 141-pound division in the world championships since 2009.
Rojas, who was born at Sunrise Hospital, learned to box from his father, Freudis Rojas-Londres, a former pro from Cuba.
Londres introduced his son to boxing when he was 10 by tricking him to go to Johnny Tocco’s Boxing Gym.
“I thought he was taking to me to the grocery store for candy,” Rojas said. “At first I didn’t like it, but I didn’t want to hurt my dad’s feelings, so I kept going and eventually fell in love with boxing.”
Card of the year
Boxing fans have been drooling since this action-filled all-super flyweight card was made official.
The top five fighters from the 115-pound division will battle Saturday during an HBO tripleheader at the StubHub Center in Carson, California.
The anticipated rematch between WBC titlist Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez will headline the card. Sor Rungvisai handed former pound-for-pound king, Gonzalez, his first career loss after a controversial majority decision in March in a bout that is in the mix for fight of the year.
Japanese phenom Naoya Inoue makes his U.S. debut to defend his WBO belt against Antonio Nieves for the co-main event. The all-Mexican fight between Carlos Cuadras and Juan Francisco Estrada opens the televised portion of the card that airs on HBO at 7:15 p.m.
Contact Gilbert Manzano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.
Sept. 15: Golden Boy on ESPN, 4:30 p.m., ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, MGM Grand Marquee Ballroom
Sept. 16: Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 5 p.m., HBO PPV, T-Mobile Arena
Sept. 26: Premier Boxing Champions, 6 p.m., Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes, Cannery Casino