Boxing


Sharkie’s Machine: Acelino Freitas Quits After Eight Rounds With Juan Diaz

freitasApril 29th, 2007 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr. - Congratulations to WBA Lightweight Champion, Juan “The Baby Bull” Diaz, who improved his unbeaten record to 32-0, with 16 KO’s and added the WBO Title to his currency after unmanning former Champion, Acelino “Popo” Freitas (38-2, 32 KO’s), who quit on his stool after eight rounds up at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut Saturday night.

With his wildly unorthodox style, Freitas was winning all his fights by knockout prior to his UD win over Alfred Kotey in September of 2001. His most exciting fight had to be his battle against Argentina’s Jorge Barrios, who put Freitas down in the eighth and the eleventh rounds. Freitas came back and put Barrios down in the eleventh and twelfth to go on and win that fight by TKO 12.

The 31 year-old Freitas has been on the decline since being KOed by Diego Corrales back in August of 2004 in a fight where Freitas was knocked down three times and then quit on his stool after the tenth round. It’s an irrelevant coincidence, but Mike Ortega was the referee in both fights that saw Freitas quit on his stool.

Another interesting note is that all three Judges who scored his Freitas vs. Zahir Raheem, were on hand Saturday night to score the Diaz vs. Freitas fight. Coincidence? Maybe, strange—definitely.

23 year-old Juan Diaz of Houston Texas has been brought along very slowly and carefully. Turning pro at 17, he has faced his share of also-rans and has cultivated an undefeated record in the process. With the combination of tenacious punching and careful match making, he has been able to keep the WBA Title for two years without defending against a top fighter. Freitas is not a top fighter anymore (hasn’t been for a couple of years actually) but is by far the biggest name brand fighter on Diaz’ resume so far.

I didn’t expect too much from Diaz, considering the quality of his list of past opponents but he showed good stamina and consistency in his offense against Acelino Freitas, who only owned the WBA Lightweight Title because of a gift decision over Zahir Raheem in April of 2006.

Diaz proved to be stronger and more aggressive than Freitas, who managed to win the first two rounds with cleaner punches and a lot of mobility. But by the third round, Freitas was already breathing heavily and looking spent in his corner after Diaz won his first round with the more consistent pressure that saw him land some pretty good power jabs and a few combinations. Diaz was realizing that Freitas only real defense was to run. Freitas scored well enough in the fourth to just barely take that round but it was obvious that his stamina, or lack thereof, wouldn’t carry him through 12 rounds.

Diaz stepped it up in the fifth round by pressing Freitas into the ropes and smothering him with punches that were often landing. He rocked Freitas with a combination that staggered him backwards and looked like the beginning of the end for Popo. Diaz didn’t keep the pressure on enough and Freitas escaped the fifth.

By the sixth, Freitas punches had lost their steam and he was out of gas. Diaz kept pressing him into the ropes and unleashing barrages of punches.

In the seventh, Freitas kept finding himself against the ropes and unable to effectively counter Diaz’ pressure offense. After the round, Diaz wasn’t even breathing heavy while Freitas looked ready for an oxygen mask.

The eighth round was more of the same, with Freitas running backwards and Diaz pressing and punching. A Diaz left ripped into Freitas, who was again, against the ropes and looking very vulnerable to being knocked out.

After the eighth round, Freitas quit on his stool. It was over, Diaz had won by TKO 8. For some reason, Freitas people picked him up and paraded him around the ring as if he’d won. Strange. Had he kept fighting and been knocked out, it would’ve been less painful to his legacy than quitting on his stool. It looks like the Acelino Freitas show is over.

During the post fight interview, Diaz said all the right things and when asked whom he really would like to fight he said Manny Pacquiao would be his dream fight. He also said he wants to fight all the Champions in his
division.

Now, there are three fighters named Diaz who own three of the four most recognized Titles. David Diaz (WBC Interim), Julio Diaz (IBF) and Juan Diaz (WBA and WBO). Joel Casamayor (WBC) also figures in the picture even though he’s not fought since October of last year and is not currently scheduled to fight anyone as far as I know.

Casamayor is possibly the best “boxer” of the lot but his lack of activity may prove problematic. David Diaz hasn’t fought since August of last year so he may also be the rustiest of the lot.

IBF Champ, Julio Diaz, has been calling out Juan Diaz to fight for quite some time with no result. Julio Diaz vs. Juan Diaz would be an interesting match up because Julio is taller, skillful boxer with good power and Juan appears to have developed into a solid pressure fighter with a powerful jab to compliment his aggressive ring demeanor and respectable stamina.

Being that boxing is the only sport that has no unified champions in any division, it would be productive if the “powers that be” mandate that the Champions duke it out and allow the one REAL Champion to emerge from the rubble—at least in one division! But there’s too much money to be made by the sanctioning bodies the way things are, so don’t hold your breath.

* * *

Comments can be emailed to dshark87@hotmail.com

Article posted on 29.04.2007



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