It was a tougher than anticipated scrap for Acelino Freitas when he took on plucky Argentinian Jorge Barrios this past weekend in Miami, Florida. It was thought that the hard-punching 'Popo' would overwhelm Barrios with his superior class and punching power.
Instead, the gritty and game Barrios, wouldn't follow the script and instead stuck around despite suffering a cut over his left eye that got bloodier as the night went along. After falling behind early, he caught up to the WBO-WBA jr. lightweight titlist by simply out-hustling the champion.
He would send Freitas to the canvas with a flash knockdown in the eighth from a jab, that seemed to be more of a balance shot and caused by a slippery canvas. He would get up quickly, smiling at anyone in sight as if to say,' No problems, here, I'm ok' But it signaled a clear shift in momentum as Barrios continued to press forward and make a fight out of it.
In the beginning of the 11th stanza, with the scorecards tightening, a big right would this time send Freitas to the deck. And there were no smiles this time around, his face said it all,' Uh, oh' He was clearly in trouble and Barrios would be in a position to close the show or at least do enough follow-up damage to win the final round. It was a golden opportunity for this heavy underdog. Nicknamed,' the Hyena' he was no laughing matter.
But Freitas would get an unintentional reprieve, as his mouthpiece was jolted out of his mouth while getting nailed by Barrios big punch. After receiving the mandatory eight-count, the referee would pick up his mouthpiece and then call a timeout to the action so that it could be wiped off and then put back into Freitas' mouth. In essence, the eight-count, became about 'mandatory half-minute' as Freitas trainer, Oscar Suarez had all the sense of urgency of a DMV worker in cleaning of the equipment- as of course, an experienced corner man should.
Freitas with those valuable seconds was able to recover and eventually nail Barrios with his own right hand that staggered him at the very end of the 11th. It had such an effect that less than a minute into the 12th, Barrios would be knocked out. At the end of 11, one judge had Freitas up, 106-103, another had it 106-104 Barrios and the third judge had it deadlocked at 105-105. Freitas' title was clearly hanging in the balance.
Some fighters are saved by the bell, Freitas was saved by his gum-shield.
Which begs the question, from now on, shouldn't every fighter that is knocked down and dazed, simply spit out his mouth-guard so that they can get a timeout and extra time to recover and clear their heads? That's obviously what Freitas got this past weekend and it may have saved his hide.
The rules clearly state that a mouthpiece that comes out in the middle of a fight has to be put in during a clear break in the action. Now, my question is, can a mandatory eight count for a fallen boxer really be considered a 'break' in the action? If Barrios had stunned Freitas and then followed up with a barrage of punches while the mouthpiece came out, the action wouldn't have been halted and he'd have a chance to press the advantage he caused. But because he knocked his man down, in this instance, he got punished for it.
I'm not a referee- but I play one behind the computer- an eight count should not be considered a break in the action. But a continuation of action that followed a big punch, if there is a lull soon afterwords, then you call timeout and get the fallen mouthpiece.
If the same course of action is followed that was in this fight, then fighters everywhere should just merely drop their mouth-guards to the floor. They'd be stupid not to, think about it, do you want eight seconds to recover, or up to 30 seconds? It's a no-brainer if you ask me.
I'm off the opinion that- now, let me explain, because this does sound a bit barbaric, I do admit- no fight should be stopped due to a dropped mouthpiece in any fight. Why? Well, to me if a fighter hits a guy so hard that his mouthpiece comes shooting out or becomes dislodged, he shouldn't be penalize for it by having a break in the action later on. Also, if you can't keep that doggone thing in there, you should be made to fight with a disadvantage.
The mouthpiece is a safety device, I do understand that, but my question is, do they disallow fighters from punching at opponents who keep their hands down and leave themselves exposed? No, you're allowed to capitalize on that if you can. Or if you leave your jab hanging out their like a clothesline, your opponent has every right to time it and counter. So why should a guy who gets his mouthpiece knocked out be given a reprieve in the form of a timeout?
Hate to break it to these boxing bureaucrats, who mean well, but sometimes in their over-zealousness in making boxing politically correct and sterie they're taking away the essence of the game in many respects. Boxing is a dangerous game, it can be brutal in it's consequences. And if a guy has an open and exposed mouth he shouldn't be given boxing's version of a 'Get out of jail' card.
Remember, that's one of the beautiful things about this game, there are no teammates to depend on and there are no timeouts. If you find yourself in a tough fight, you can't call in for a sub and if you find yourself in with a guy giving you fits and hitting you all over, you can't make a 'T' gesture with your hands( in fact, maybe that's the reason why they make you wear gloves, so that you can't call timeout) to the referee and signal for a break in the action. The only breaks you should get come between the rounds.
You certainly shouldn't get one when you get hit with a punch that causes a much needed piece of equipment to come flying off. Like in life, boxing makes you accountable. And if there's any reason to keep your hands up and head moving it should be the thought that if you don't, you may lose all your teeth. Sounds harsh, I know, but that's boxing.
And when you get sent to the canvas, you get an eight count to get yourself together and recover. And that's the way it should be, the mandatory eight, was never meant to be the 'mandatory timeout of 30 seconds to clean off a mouthpiece'