Freudis Rojas reached a career-high in rounds for the second straight fight.
The unbeaten welterweight prospect was forced to go the ten-round distance versus Cristian Baez, whom he outpointed in their ProBox TV co-feature. Scores of 99-91, 98-92 and 98-92 weren’t exactly indicative of what took place in the ring, as Rojas was forced to survive a gut check to preserve his unblemished record Wednesday evening at Whitesands Events Center in Plant City, Florida.
The all-southpaw affair proved to be an awkward clash of styles. Baez did what he does best and made things as uncomfortable as possible for Rojas throughout their ten-round affair.
Rojas has grown accustomed to controlling the range as a 6’2” welterweight. He struggled to fend off his scrappy Venezuelan foe, who constantly charged forward even if he didn’t enjoy much offensive success.
Rojas was at his best when he boxed and moved around the ring, as the 25-year-old southpaw was able to do in the middle rounds. Baez would often miss wildly after he plodded forward. Rojas couldn’t make him pay, though, as his best punches were often followed by a clinch.
The latter rounds saw both boxers fight through fatigue. It was particularly evident on Rojas, who lunged and clinched during nearly every exchange in rounds eight and nine. Baez—a 32-year-old Venezuelan southpaw based out of San Jose, California—tried to time the unbeaten prospect coming in but his best moments were limited to singular punches due to the frequent holding from his opponent.
Rojas entered the ninth round for the first time in his young career. He was able to shake off power shots from Baez to land left hands from odd angles.
Baez tried to push the action in the tenth and final round. Rojas let him come forward and clipped him with a left hand over the top inside the first minute. Baez returned to his jab and tried to set a trap to catch Rojas with a looping shot. Rojas slapped with his jab and reached with his left, but left his chin in the air long enough to catch a Baez left.
Rojas landed a one-two just before the ten-second clapper and avoided a left hand over the top just before the bell.
Baez was valiant in defeat but has now lost four of his last five starts. He fell to 19-4 (17KOs).
Rojas advanced to 13-0 (11KOs) with the win. He went the distance for the second straight time—going eight rounds for the first time in his last bout and now ten for the first time on Wednesday, after he stopped each of his first eleven pro opponents.
Rojas-Baez was the co-feature of a ProBox tripleheader. Headlining the show, Luis Feliciano (17-0, 8KOs) and Mykquan Williams (19-0-2, 8KOs) in a ten-round battle between unbeaten junior welterweights.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox