In Boxing News: Freitas-Raheem ugly mess of a fight
Saturday’s Acelino Freitas-Zahir Raheem title bout on HBO’s newly refurbished Boxing After Dark was disappointing fare for those of us watching the bout live at Foxwoods, but was even more disappointing, according to some websites, for those glued to the tube watching the new B.A.D. broadcast team of Max Kellerman, Fran Charles and Lennox Lewis.
The Sweet Science‘s George Kimball, who was ringside for the bout, had it even after 12 rounds and wrote of the fighters that the truth of the matter is that neither of them deserved to be a champion off Saturday night’s work. Freitas spent much of the night whining to referee Steve Smoger (although God knows he had plenty to whine about), while Raheem turned into a 135-pound John Ruiz, attempting to envelop the Brazilian in a bear hug every time he landed a punch, and sometimes when he didn’t. Kimball suggests that Raheem, perhaps in tribute to what was also the NFL’s draft day, took Freitas down in both the second and third rounds with deftly-executed open field tackles and this after he had risked a fine from Paul Tagliabue for the helmet-to-helmet hit he delivered in the opening round,” a theme reiterated in the boxing press. Bernard Fernandez in the Philadelphia Daily News also has fun with the football analogy. It is perhaps ironic that prizefighters Zahir Raheem and Acelino “Popo” Freitas spent 12 rounds perfecting their tackling techniques on the same night that the NFL opened its annual 2-day draft, he writes. Although no official knockdowns were scored in Saturday’s HBO-televised scrum for the vacant World Boxing Organization lightweight championship, the unofficial count revealed that Raheem was on the canvas six times and Freitas three from assorted entanglements, pushes, trips and wildly missed punches. Maybe styles makes fights and Freitas and Raheem had the wrong styles to make for much of a fight, but the consensus along press row was that Freitas, who once knocked out 29 opponents in a row, appeared the more controlled fighter or at least the less desperate one. Freitas’ trainer Oscar Suarez awarded his winning performance with a middling grade of C-plus, but his adoring fans who had the room swaying to a samba beat reminiscent of Carnival in Rio didn’t seem to care. The only people who seemed to care were boxing people, whose memories are by necessity very short. Some writers even compared the bout to the ridiculous WWF. Thank goodness Andre Ward was fighting on the same card The Filipinos love boxing and we love the Filipinos for it, but there’s trouble brewing in the Philippines, trouble that’s spelled with a capital P. As reported in the Manila Bulletin, trainer Freddie Roach, while preparing for his flight from the Islands back to his home in L.A., Manny Pacquiao is in danger as a result of too many distractions. Roach said he spoke with Pacquiao over the weekend and that PacMan took the time to say goodbye, unlike Friday when he suddenly skipped town without telling his trainer. “He told me that he will be there (Wild Card Gym) on May 13,” said Roach, alluding to Pacquiao’s July 2 with Oscar Larios, adding that he would need at least six weeks to get Pacquiao ready. “There’s just too many distractions here,” said Roach, referring to Pacquiao’s sponsorship deals, personal appearances, et cetera, not to mention certain nocturnal activities which have kept Manny running on all cylinders. More than one champ has blown it all thanks to the vagaries of wine, women and song. Hopefully Manny Pacquiao won’t be joining them any time soon To those who like cinema almost as much as they love boxing, especially when the two meet head-on, a review from Cinematical concerning a film called Blue Blood at the Tribeca Film Festival is of special interest. The documentary is about the Oxford Boxing Club (that’s in Oxford as in England). Director Stevan Riley contrasts the brutality of the pursuit and the intellectual reputation of the school. He focuses on a handful of boxers and his film is wildly engaging and cleverly constructed, faltering only, oddly enough, during the climactic annual match against Cambridge. The Oxford boxers in the documentary are Kavanagh, who studies philosophy, Justin, an American Air Force Academy graduate chasing after a PhD in astrophysics, Charlie who is rich, Fred who is poor, and a tough Oxford bruiser named Boiler. According to Cinematical, Riley does a tremendous job in his film of making his characters appealing, and deepening their stories beyond stereotypes. Very quickly, it becomes clear that “Blue Blood” is about much more than posh boys beating the living hell out of one another. Instead, it’s about a group of painfully self-aware young men, all bent on improving themselves in various ways, for various reasons. If that’s something you’ve heard before and don’t want to hear again feel free to click on that mouse, but don’t be surprised if it shows up in an indie theater near you this summer, or at the very least on HBO. Former WBO heavyweight champ Tommy Morrison, 37, has decided he wants to resume his boxing career a decade after he tested positive for HIV. Morrison and his attorney told Norm Frauenheim in The Arizona Republic that they hope to get Tommy back into the ring by the end of the year. John Montano of the Arizona State Boxing Commission said Morrison is free to apply for a license, which would be subject to a routine review that includes mandatory blood tests, but “There are questions I don’t have answers for right now. Is he contagious? That’s one of the things you would have to look at.” Morrison’s attorney Randy Lang said, “I don’t think he’s HIV-positive now.” Positive or not, and only tests will tell, Morrison believes They’re just depriving me of a livelihood.” B.J. Flores, a young fighter fighting out of Phoenix, said that he, for one, wouldn’t fight Morrison. “To my knowledge, HIV is not something you can get rid of. I just don’t see anybody without HIV fighting somebody who has HIV. No way.” No doubt the Puerto Rican Commission that okayed Joe Mesi‘s last outing is paying close attention And from the London Sunday Times comes an update on Chris Eubank. Bankrupt, a nomad in the throes of a painful divorce, Chris Eubank climbs from the cab of his gleaming blue Peterbilt truck, which he has parked on the doorstep of an exclusive London hotel, and struts into the lobby like a peacock in mating season. Dressed to kill in a dark three-piece suit and clutching a manbag, Eubank, his sartorial splendor intact, still manages to turn heads. Someone who drives a truck, wears jodhpurs and a monocle, has poetry and philosophy on his mind, is quick-witted and struts, all of this alludes to a person who is a show-off, Eubank says. I’m a showman. There’s a difference. Quoting Samuel Johnson (Remember, when he is old, that he has once been young), Friedrich Nietzsche (We do not accuse nature of being immoral because it sends us a thunderstorm and makes us wet; why do we call the harmful man immoral?) and Oscar Wilde (How can a woman be expected to be happy with a man who insists on treating her as if she were a perfectly normal human being?), the former champ reveals that his IQ was measured recently at 190. I’ve found that I’m probably a crazy man to people who have an average IQ, which is 120. I’m a little different, a little bit off’. Not that I’m off, it’s just that you have to be intelligent to understand me. Three weeks ago I met somebody with an IQ of 246. He is now going to be negotiating particular deals for me. Eubank insists he has a superhero complex my internist tells me there’s a lot of that going around these days and a couple of years ago even went so far as to make a statement by driving his Peterbilt to the gates of No. 10 Downing Street, home of the British Prime Minister. I had a banner fixed to the top of the truck, Eubank says. The banner read: Tony Blair, military occupation causes terrorism.’ The piece in the Times doesn’t reveal whether or not Blair was affected by Eubank’s anti-war declaration, but at least the British PM, to his credit, seems not to think, unlike the decider, that nuking Iran is such a hot idea.