MASHANTUCKET, Conn. (Jan. 4, 2004) In a battle of undefeated world champions, and the opener of what promises to be an exciting year on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING, World Boxing Organization (WBO)/World Boxing Association (WBA) 130-pound champion Acelino "Popo" Freitas dethroned longtime WBO lightweight champion King Artur Grigorian with a dominant, lopsided 12th-round decision Saturday on SHOWTIME. In the co-feature from Foxwoods Resort Casino, International Boxing Federation (IBF) No. 1 junior middleweight contender Kassim "The Dream" Ouma registered an impressive, exciting 10th-round TKO over IBF No. 2 contender Juan Carlos Candelo in an IBF 154-pound elimination bout. The SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING doubleheader was promoted by Art Pelullo's Banner Promotions and aired at 11 p.m. ET/PT.

Freitas (35-0, 31 KOs), of Salvador, Brazil, floored Grigorian four times and was in total control throughout while triumphing by the one-sided scores of 116-107 twice and 115-108. The aggressive, hard-punching Freitas floored the defending 135-pound champion once in the fourth, sixth, seventh and eighth rounds. The first knockdown was legitimate and came from a solid right hand, but the last three knockdowns were questionable. Freitas, who was making his sixth SHOWTIME appearance, was a bit wild at times and had a point deducted in the 10th for a low blow, but otherwise was nearly flawless in his first start since rallying to score a dramatic 12th-round TKO over Jorge Rodrigo Barrios on Aug. 9, 2003 on SHOWTIME. The popular Freitas WBO and WBA 130-pound titles were not on the line.

Grigorian (36-1, 22 KOs), of Tashkent, Uzbekistan, entered the ring as one of boxing's longest reigning world champions, having made 17 successful title defenses since capturing the WBO lightweight crown in April 1996. The slick-boxing southpaw, however, did not have the firepower to keep up offensively against Freitas, who applied constant pressure from the outset. Grigorian, who was making his United States debut, was making his first start since retaining his title on Jan, 18, 2003.

Ouma (19-1-1, 12 KOs), of Palm Beach, Fla., floored Candelo with a vicious left hook late in the ninth round. Candelo made it to his feet at the count of eight and survived the round, but was wobbly and badly hurt as he went to his corner. He was allowed to come out for the 10th, but Ouma pounced on him immediately. After a flurry of unanswered punches, the referee stopped the crowd-pleasing slugfest 15 seconds into the stanza. The southpaw, who dictated throughout with his movement and pinpoint punching, was ahead 89-81 on the three judge's scorecards after nine completed rounds. Ouma, unbeaten in 10 starts (9-0-1 with one no-decision) since suffering his lone setback on Nov. 20, 1999, becomes the mandatory challenger to IBF junior middleweight champion Ronald "Winky" Wright.

Candelo (26-6-3, 18 KOs), of Denver, by way of Barranquilla, Colombia, landed his share of punches in the action-packed affair, but never more than one or two at a time, and he never seemed to hurt Ouma. Candela, who had difficulty with Ouma's speed, did his most productive work when able to get inside.

SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING's Steve Albert and Al Bernstein called the action from ringside with Jim Gray serving as roving reporter. The executive producer of the SHOWTIME telecast was Jay Larkin, with David Dinkins Jr. producing and Bob Dunphy directing.

For information on upcoming SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING and "ShoBox: The New Generation" telecasts, including complete fighter bios and records, related stories and more, please go the SHOWTIME website at

Article posted on 04.01.2004

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