In the wake of undisputed Super Lightweight world champion Terence Crawford making Julius Indongo’s United States debut far less successful than his belt winning appearances in Moscow and Glasgow; an expected departure to welterweight creates a vacuum among 140-pound titleholders.
Sonny “Pretty Boy” Fredrickson, an unbeaten and unusually rangy 23-year old out of Toledo, Ohio, is anxious to march his way towards the WBA belt – he is currently ranked at No. 9.
Fredrickson (17-0, 11 KOs) expected to make his debut appearance on SHOWTIME the same night Claressa Shields captured her first world title, but his chance to compete on ShoBox: The New Generation failed to materialize after his scheduled opponent, Bakhtiyar Eyubov, pulled out of the fight. The setback could not have come at a worst time for the young Roc Nation Sports fighter – with all of the belts potentially being vacant.
Check out how another Midwest-based Pretty Boy plans to stay busy until his strap season arrives.
Round By Round Boxing: What are you working on in the gym, as you continue to stay busy?
Sonny Fredrickson: We had that fight fall out in August, we’re just staying ready hopefully training and just staying sharp and getting our rounds in, still doing anything we have to. Hopefully we’ll get one in by the end of September. That’s the goal.
Round By Round Boxing: Were you expecting that kind of outcome for the Terence Crawford-Julius Indongo match up?
Sonny Fredrickson: I didn’t think he was going to get him out of there that fast! I thought he was going to beat him pretty good, but you know what, that’s just a well-timed shot he hit him with. And, that just opened up a lot of things, there’s a lot of guys right in front of me that are probably going to fight for other belts because they’re ranked higher, so that means I’m going to jump up even more in the rankings.
Round By Round Boxing: A year ago we watched Bakhtiyar Eyubov take on Karim Mayfield in a televised bout the evening before your fight with Ramesis Gil in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. How did you process him backing out of your fight with him that was scheduled for Showtime? Did you guys ever exchange any words?
Sonny Fredrickson: You know, I didn’t think he was actually going to back out, but then they called me, and they really didn’t give no excuse so I just figured maybe he was in Kazakhstan, or something happened in training. So you know, this is boxing and that happens to people all the time, so I was hoping they could find me a replacement and they couldn’t.
Round By Round Boxing: Did you and Bakhtiyar ever have any interaction leading up to the fight, exchange any words or anything?
Sonny Fredrickson: Nah, none at all. We just got interviewed by the Showtime people, but we had separate interviews.
Round By Round Boxing: You’ve gradually climbed the WBA junior welterweight rankings, currently sit at No. 9, and it appears all belts will be vacated. Are you optimistic you can compete for a belt in a fight or two?
Sonny Fredrickson: I mean, I could probably fight the winner of the WBA, maybe get me in a title eliminator by the end of the year – and that’s good enough for me right there. Just getting right there, gets me into a spot to get to the belt.
Round By Round Boxing: What’s the highest you’re ranked in any of the other sanctioning bodies?
Sonny Fredrickson: I’m actually not on any of the other sanctioning bodies. I was ranked for some junior belts, for the IBF, I was ranked No. 1 for their NABA belt. I just never got in the IBF rankings yet.
Round By Round Boxing: What is the strategy right now for you and your team to propel you towards a title shot? Is it a bout with a Top 20 guy? Top 10? Or a bout with what will be a new champion?
Sonny Fredrickson: I’d rather fight like an ex-world champion, you know, or anyone that’s in the Top 10, you know. I’d feel like the Top 10 is better than 20, you know, when I win a fight I want to get in the No. 1 or 2, so I can fight for the belt.
Round By Round Boxing: Do you, or your team, thinks that it makes any sense to look at a guy like the USBA super lightweight champion Ivan Baranchyk? Is that an option to consider?
Sonny Fredrickson: We’ve never really talked about that, but I mean, if they wanted me to do it, and my team thought it was a good move, whatever they believe is the best move for me, then I’m gonna go with them and do what they say. You know, they got me this far so far. Whatever they do, I ain’t going to question them.
Round By Round Boxing: Do you think Roc Nation Sports possibly being a little too new, in the boxing world, to have a TV affiliation is hindering you, or keeping you outside looking in a little bit? Golden Boy, Top Rank and PBC all have some TV deals in place already.
Sonny Fredrickson: They’re trying to get me on TV. You know they had the Showtime date, but of course that fell through. They’re trying to have me break through on someone else’s card, and I’m alright with that as long as I can get through the front door. I’ve heard something about some CBS dates, and hopefully we can get on some of those eventually.
Round By Round Boxing: Is raising your visibility something the relationship with Fight Tyme Live can achieve?
Sonny Fredrickson: That’s a good thing. Now, when I fight and folks can’t make it out, they have the opportunity to stream it at home. They’re a sponsor that stream or record my fights, and enable a lot more people to see me fight.
Round By Round Boxing: In terms of Ohio boxers that are making moves, Antonio Nieves has a bout with Inoue coming up, Cleveland native Terrell Gausha has a fight pending with Erislandry Lara in October – does this feed into your optimism that something big is right around the corner?
Sonny Fredrickson: Terrell Gausha? He’s fighting Lara? That’s big.
Round By Round Boxing: That’s what’s pending right now. There’s a big 154-pound card featuring Jermell Charlo- Erickson Lubin that’s still being put together.
Sonny Fredrickson: Hopefully it is. You know Ohio’s getting back on the map, you know with Robert Easter, now Antonio Nieves getting a world title shot, and then what you said for Terrell. That’s real good for Ohio boxing, and people coming back here. Hopefully they win some belts, and just bring them back to Ohio and keep boxing here.
Round By Round Boxing: What is your charity with Ronald McDonald House about, and how is that relationship coming along? What is your objective with that? Why did you choose to work with kids with health issues as opposed to other youth-related areas of need?
Sonny Fredrickson: It’s good, I just go there and I have some breakfast and brunch events with the kids. McDonalds funded one and fed all the kids and everything. I also had another place called Balance, they sponsored one, and then we fed the kids with foods from Balance. Hopefully we can keep doing that, it’s good time off for the kids because they get to meet me, and they also get to eat some lunch. It’s a good opportunity.
Round By Round Boxing: What’s your objective with the interaction with you?
Sonny Fredrickson: It’s just pretty much that when I go down there, it’s just a chance to keep their mind off stuff. If they’re there, they’re usually either there because they’re sick, or someone from their family is sick. So, they’ve got a lot going on, and if I go there we’ll talk about boxing, and we eat food and laugh and joke. You know they’re not worried about their problems that are going on in the hospital.
Round By Round Boxing: What prompted you to give back to the community through this organization? Why focus on kids with health issues?
Sonny Fredrickson: I just thought it was a good organization, as far as helping kids out. I feel like we need more youth programs. I see youth programs going on, but nobody’s really doing programs for them, so I just decided to go out there and help them out.
Round By Round Boxing: You recently announced that you signed a deal with apparel maker Adidas. How did that opportunity come about, and what all does the deal entail?
Sonny Fredrickson: It’s just a sponsorship, they’re making my fight uniforms, they’re providing my boxing shoes, and my training equipment. It helps to get some training equipment to my gym and everything, you know. It’s a good deal.
Round By Round Boxing: How did this come about?
Sonny Fredrickson: My marketing guy works with a lot of relationships around, he went to them and showed them a portfolio he put together of me, and they wanted to work with me.
Round By Round Boxing: Current world champions Gervonta Davis and Anthony Joshua are both signed with Under Armour, are you hopeful that this relationship can help you out with improving your visibility, or to advance things ‘in the ring’ for you?
Sonny Fredrickson: Yeah, it definitely does, you know, just getting sponsored by a business like that, you know an Under Armour or an Adidas, or by Nike that brings attention to you. It’s like “Oh, this guy is getting sponsored by a big company like that…”, it just makes people want to work with you more. It shows that you’re marketable.
Round By Round Boxing: In Milwaukee you showed me some footwear that was sent to you, and you gave me a real side-eye look, and a smirk, while holding up the pair for me to see. How are you feeling about Adidas gear, are you excited?
Sonny Fredrickson: Oh yeah, definitely Adidas, they actually do make some of the best workout gear around. I was actually surprised at how good their gloves were, I had never really seen them. I’d never really seen people using their gloves before. They were really good, really good quality too.
Round By Round Boxing: This weekend is a major event for boxing, and combat sports, so what’s your prediction for Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor? I’ve seen you react to some different videos on social media.
Sonny Fredrickson: I feel like Mayweather is probably gonna go out there and play around for a little bit, he ain’t gonna do too much. I feel like Conor McGregor might come out be really sloppy in the beginning, and he might get dropped. I think [Mayweather] may take him out in the 6th round – no later than the 9th. I’d be surprised if it goes the distance.
Round By Round Boxing: Victory Sports’ Mike Leanardi is part of your management team, he’s also a key figure in Badou Jack’s corner team. What are you thoughts on Badou’s title bout tomorrow night with Nathan Cleverly?
Sonny Fredrickson: I feel like Badou Jack has been having a lot of good performances, I feel like if he goes out there and wins another belt, maybe he can get a shot at a real big fight. You know, I look for him to win the fight, but hopefully he can get a really big fight like Adonis Stevenson, Andre Ward, you know – really put him on the map.
Round By Round Boxing: Anything you’d like to tell boxing fans about Sonny Fredrickson?
Sonny Fredrickson: I’m just looking forward to getting on TV. I want to fight anybody in the Top 10. If the fight comes to me and it’s a good fight, then my team wants to accept, and it’s anybody in the Top 10 – we’ll fight them.