Freudis Rojas talks almost completely giving up on himself & boxing

One of the longest-running boxing shows known to breed future stars in the sport returns on Friday, September 15. ShoBox: The New Generation is back with another of their triple headers, featuring some young talent out of the Sampson Boxing stable. To open the card that night, welterweight prospect Freudis ‘Freddy’ Rojas (11-0, 11 KOs) will go up against Saul Bustos (15-1-1, 8 KOs) in an eight-round bout.

The 25-year-old Rojas is on the cusp of being on everyone’s radar, as are a lot of fighters who have promoter Sampson Lewkowicz in their corner. Lewkowicz has one of the sharpest eyes in the sport, and any time you see him in someone’s corner, you know that the other fighter is in for a helluva night. Knowing this, you might expect a little cockiness from the welterweight prospect, but he is one of the most humble human beings you will meet.

When you come across really humble fighters, it’s usually because they went through some things growing up, and Rojas is no different. Growing up on the rough side of Las Vegas, NV (Eastside) wasn’t exactly a picture-perfect environment. Rojas and his family lived in a budget suite (the equivalent of a studio) with his father working three jobs and his mother two, just to support the family.

“It was very tough for us to try to make money, but sometimes, as a kid, you just live life, and you don't see it as a problem until you get a little older, and then you know kids are making fun of you. We struggled a lot coming up with bills and housing. I was bullied a lot, even though kids knew I had boxed. I was a very quiet kid growing up. Not like how I am now, very talkative and always smiling, but before, it was the opposite. I was always near my mom. I was a big Mama's Boy. I won’t say I was because I still am,” the 6’ 2” welterweight prospect said, laughing.

Having been introduced to boxing (forcibly) by his dad at the young age of 8, Rojas absolutely hated being dropped off at the gym. This practice continued through the age of 13, and during this time he would box in tennis shoes as his parents couldn’t afford real boxing shoes. It wasn’t until 2013, when Rojas made the Junior World Championships, that he started to enjoy the sweet science. The idea of getting free stuff and being away from his parents was exciting, and that’s when he began to find himself a little more.

Although he was getting into his groove as a boxer, he still had to be a big brother to his two younger sisters, as his parents were always working. That meant Rojas would have to walk five miles to pick up his siblings from school and another five back to the budget suites when his parents couldn’t pick them up (which was most days). Even as a young kid Rojas started to feel that maybe he shouldn’t be going through all of this. But as the famous line in Rocky Balboa goes, “ ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” 

That quote would hit Rojas differently in 2020 during the Olympic Trials when he lost to Delante ‘Tiger’ Johnson (9-0, 5 KOs). Rojas was devastated by the defeat and not making the Olympics, which sent him down an emotional rabbit hole. He started to question whether boxing was what he really wanted to do. Rojas quit boxing and started working at Cane’s. For three months, he would go to work and lock himself in his room. During this time, Rojas would have thoughts of suicide, which is something he shared with only a few people.

It wasn't until he was approached by his trainer Kay Koroma and his father Freudis Rojas Sr., who jointly sat him down and had a conversation about the talent he possessed that Rojas was able to get out of his rut. When Rojas Sr. had a tearful heart-to-heart conversation with his son, telling him about having his own boxing dream taken from him and that he’s living his dream through his son, gave Rojas a whole different perspective on his situation. Rojas would get back into boxing and pursue a pro career.

With his amateur background, Rojas turned pro in 2021 and thought he would get signed right away, but it didn’t exactly happen that way. His career did take a positive turn when Rojas was in Ismael Salas’ gym doing some sparring and the legendary Cuban coach noticed him. After watching him spar, Salas would call Sampson to let him know that he was impressed with what he saw in Rojas and he needed to see it himself. Sampson would take Salas’ advice and visit his gym to see Rojas work, and after liking what he saw, Sampson would offer Rojas a promotional contract, and the rest is history.

Now, Rojas will be opening the Showtime telecast on Friday against Bustos who is trained by the great Freddy Roach. Bustos is a tough fighter and Rojas’ most significant test to date, which is why purists love to tune into ShoBox, as they are known to test young prospects before reaching the next level.

“He's a great fighter,” Rojas said of Bustos. “I've always respected anyone who steps in the ring. He has a game plan that he wants to show that night, and I have one too. My team and I are prepared for anything he and Freddie Roach have planned. We're ready. If one thing doesn't work, we have Plan B, C, D, E, F, etc. We know he's gonna come and fight. I know that for sure. You could just see it. The battle has already been won, and I have so much faith in my heart. That night, I'll be victorious.”