Sonny Fredrickson: Winning Mentality

By Caryn A. Tate on November 28, 2017
Sonny Fredrickson: Winning Mentality
“Realistically,” said Fredrickson, “I could hope for a title eliminator at the end of the year.”

All top-level fighters understand the importance of mental fortitude, confidence, and ability to overcome adversity…

At just 23 years old, undefeated, and currently ranked #9 in the world by the WBA at super lightweight, things are looking good for Sonny “Pretty Boi” Fredrickson (18-0, 12 KOs). But it gets better: the young Roc Nation Sports promoted fighter returned to his Ohio home from Medellin, Colombia, where he stopped local undefeated boxer Placido Ramirez (10-1, 7 KOs) by third-round TKO for the WBA Fedebol super lightweight title.

“It was a good experience, just to get out there and finally fight another undefeated fighter,” Sonny said. “I’ve had fights [scheduled] with undefeated fighters who backed out before. Finally this one went through. I knew that I had to come out and show my talents and really dominate the fight because I’m in his home country.

“I knocked him down in every round that we fought, before I stopped him. The first knockdown was off a right hand. The second knockdown was off an uppercut. When I knocked him out, I hit him with some body shots.”

The November 1 bout was Sonny’s first professional title fight, and as a bonus, it took place at the WBA annual convention in front of boxing legends who were in attendance. “Roberto Duran was there, Bernard Hopkins got in the ring—so it was a really great experience to finally get recognized by some great people like that.”

When I last spoke with Sonny back in March, he had mentioned his affinity for going to the body of his opponents and that, despite his considerable 6’2” height, his foes are often surprised by how well he can work on the inside if he needs to. This fight was no different, and Fredrickson spoke about why he likes to work the body.

“Body shots are an easy way to get somebody out of there. And I feel like I get more leverage on my punches to the body, and fans like to see a closer-in fight, [with] me ripping body shots.

“I feel like it’s surprising to a lot of people how good I fight on the inside, and by my punching power—how strong I actually am. I don’t really look like it, but everybody I’ve ever fought has told me they couldn’t believe I was that strong. It does feel good [to hear]…it’s a lot of hard work, a lot of training goes into it, so it’s all paying off.”

Like most good coaches, Sonny’s trainer Lamar Wright, who runs the Glass City Boxing Gym in Toledo, Ohio, is a big believer in the jab. He has stated that is the first punch he teaches his charges. Sonny agrees with his coach and understands the versatility and importance of the fundamental tool.

“The jab is an offensive weapon, it’s a defensive weapon,” Fredrickson said. “It sets up a lot of things. It set up the first knockdown [in the Ramirez fight]—I threw two really fast jabs, and that was just a distraction. And then I hit him with a right hand. So it’s a set up punch—it’s the most important punch because it sets everything else up.”

As far as how to use the jab defensively, Sonny gave an example. “So let’s say someone’s on the attack against me, and I just put it out there to stop them from throwing other punches, and keep it in their face. A stiff arm, like ‘back up.’”

A major component of any martial art is the mental aspect. All top-level fighters understand the importance of mental fortitude, confidence, and ability to overcome adversity. As he makes his way up the ranks, Fredrickson spends a lot of time studying this part of the sport.

“I feel like all [my] fights I won mentally before the fight. You have to be in the gym, you have to train hard, you have to know that when I’m going into this fight, I’m coming to win. There’s never, ever been a fight that I ever came to with any doubt in my mind that I was gonna win. You’ve gotta know that if you get hit with a punch—some fighters mentally break down if they keep getting hit by the same punch, but then you’ve gotta know, you’ve gotta understand that you’ve gotta correct it. It’s all mental.”

With his amateur background and his impressive 120-8 record there, Sonny has built up years of experience in the sport and he uses it to good effect as a professional. “That [confidence] comes with experience, too. From being in the ring with a lot of good opponents, and getting sparring from good opponents and all that. It’s all a learning experience.

“I’ve been dropped one time in the pros and that was a learning experience. I’m gonna give you an example. I got dropped because I dropped somebody and I came out there and attacked him real fast. And now I know that if I [hurt] somebody I have to be cautious, because I know that they could land something big in between and I just have to be prepared for anything.”

When watching a boxer who hurt his opponent, there often seems to be a balancing act: the boxer wants to amp up the pressure and the punishment to take advantage of the moment while not getting too greedy and either punching himself out or getting caught with something himself.

Sonny agrees. “Yeah, it’s pretty much that. I mean, if I drop anyone I’m gonna jump on them, but it’s [also] experience—now I know I’ve gotta jump on him with the jab, and make sure he’s not setting nothing up, and then I exploit the way I dropped him. Let’s say I dropped him with a right hand, now this time I need to drop him with a right hand but I’ve gotta set it up different.”

Between fights, Fredrickson stays in the gym. He prefers to stay in shape and remain sharp so that, if he gets the call for a fight in a short time frame, he can be ready. “I never take longer than a week off after a fight,” he said. “Even after I take a week off I still run. You don’t want to blow up in weight just from being lazy, and it’s way easier to prepare for a fight [if you stay in shape]. If they call me and there’s a fight in a month, I’m ready. If they call me and there’s a fight in any amount of time, I’m ready. Just in case. Even though I’m fighting 10-rounders, I could still get a call for an opportunity that I need to take and if it’s in a few weeks, I would take it.

“[After my last fight], I ran like four days the same week after my fight. So I’m still in great shape, still running, and I’m back in the gym full time now. I actually spar tomorrow. So I’m looking forward to whenever we get the call to fight.”

Every young fighter is seeking out the biggest opportunities. Sonny has given a lot of thought to what he wants to do next, and if he could have everything his way, how he’d like it to play out.

“Realistically, I could hope for a title eliminator at the end of the year. That’s what I’m hoping for. I’m waiting for the rankings to come out again because, you know, there’s a few other fights that are going on. So I gotta see what happens with that. And there’s other people in the rankings that are fighting each other. So someone’s gonna get dropped out of the rankings, so maybe I can move up a few spots, and then maybe I can get a title eliminator by the end of the year.

“But I do want to fight somebody in the top 15 in 2018 for sure. Even if it’s not a title eliminator, just to prove myself so I can jump higher in the rankings.”

Follow Caryn A. Tate on Twitter@carynatate

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