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Alex Saucedo continues to progress, Josue Vargas succeeds despite ‘Bubble’ complications

By beating Sonny Fredrickson well in 10 rounds, Alex Saucedo showed that he has made progress under the guidance of trainer Pedro Neme, but he is still a work in progress.

Under previous trainer Abel Sanchez, Saucedo had a well-deserved reputation for being a fan-friendly, hardworking hitter. The problem was that Saucedo paid the price for the type of damage he sustained against Lenny Zappavigna (in an all-action battle, selected as one of the best battles of 2018). It turned out in a disappointing title effort against Maurice Hooker in Oklahoma City’s hometown of Saucedo in November 2018.

Changes were made after that night.

The bottom line is that Saucedo is always updated in the ring as his come-forward style usually comes at a certain price. But with Sanchez, Saucedo’s progress had stalled. In the fight with Hooker, he showed all the head movements of an image. Neme was not called in to change Saucedo, whose natural ring identity is to be a pressure fighter who breaks down his opponents, but rather to be a fighter who is more defensively responsible in the process.

Saucedo will never be mistaken for Willie Pep or Pernell Whitaker, but against Fredrickson you saw more head movement, a chin tucked away more consistently, using the prick as a pathfinder to his opponent and changing angles while up close bumped. The goal is to make sure he gets hit less often in the future.



Alex Saucedo uses several fun combinations to put pressure on Sonny Fredrickson against the rope towards the end of the seventh round.

Saucedo looked better in the beginning, but there is still a lot of work to be done. 6-foot-1 Fredrickson started to feel more comfortable releasing his hands as the fight progressed, and he was able to find the mark with countless uppercuts. That’s right, there is a misplacement of the head and not fully understanding the distance, which Saucedo will have to keep improving.

Sometimes the last line of defense for Saucedo will be his chin, and he will always be a little leaky at the defensive end. His best defense will always be his offense. Breaking the wall of Rod Salka in a KO round in the first round in November turned out to be nothing, but the fight with Fredrickson gave a good indication of a positive development with Neme.

No trainer, no problem



Josue Vargas’ emotions get the best of him when he talks about his dad, who broke the rules of the Las Vegas bubble and was not allowed to corner him.

Junior welterweight Josue Vargas got some quality work on Tuesday night, the kind of hard rounds every prospect needs on the way up. These kinds of experiences are far more valuable than early round KOs against over-matched enemies.

This was perhaps one of the more difficult battles of Vargas’ career to date, as his father and trainer, Elario Vargas, were banned after being caught leaving and once again attempted to enter the controlled environment of “The Bubble” (more on that below). It was surprising to see Vargas so emotional as he spoke to ESPN reporter Bernardo Osuna about this issue just as he was getting ready to get in the ring.

This could not have been an easy situation for everyone involved, especially the younger Vargas, as it is difficult enough to lose the services of your head coach at the 11th hour – all the more so since it was his father, with whom he had a close band has relationship with. His response to this unfortunate situation shows that boxing is as mental as it is physical.

Kudos to trainer Raul Rivas, who took over the reins and did a masterful job of jockeying Vargas to the finish. He gave strong orders all night and provided a comforting presence that helped mitigate the lack of a familiar voice. Rivas is the head coach of John Bauza, who also fought on the map.

While not a great puncher, Vargas is a solid boxer puncher from his left-handed stance, and it punches just as hard that it will grab your attention. Vargas showed that he has a good understanding of how to move through the ring, thoughtfully changing the distances and angles on the inside.

It was a fight that Vargas will never forget, but under difficult and unusual circumstances he took another major step forward in his development.

Bauza needs time

The best thing that junior welterweight John Bauza has for him is that he is a left-handed man and that he is only 22 years old. Beating the rugged Larry Fryers on Tuesday, Bauza showed that he has boxing skills and can make sharp counter-attacks, but when he got inside, Bauza was muscled by 29-year-old Fryers. Bauza will have to make his way as a volume puncher as his career evolves as he has no heavy hands.

I wonder if it will be really smooth and elusive enough to fend off the heavier 140-pounders it will face. It’s one thing to outbox carefully chosen opponents, but can Saucedo do it at the higher levels of the sport, with guys good enough to consistently touch him? It will be interesting to see how he reacts as he faces tougher competition at the 10 round level.

There are some skills, but it is clear that some physical strength must have been developed for Bauza to make a successful jump.

No warnings in “The Bubble”

Before the opening bell rang on Tuesday night’s broadcast, ESPN reporter Bernardo Osuna broke the news that Josue Vargas’ father / trainer, Elario, was banned from “The Bubble” and Josue’s corner could not work because he was walking around the MGM Grand hotel without mask on Monday. It was a clear violation of one of the many protocols that were put in place so that fighting could be conducted as safely as possible at the MGM Grand Conference Center.

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