Sharkie’s Machine: “King Artur Grigorian Slips on Poo Poo”?

04.01.04 - By Frank Gonzalez Jr.: Saturday night at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, a Brazilian 130-lb. Champion faced the WBO’s 135-lb. Champion, from Uzbekistan by way of Germany in “King” Artur Grigorian (photo: Tom Casino/Showtime). Americans are usually quick to point out that in Germany, German fighters always get the nod from questionable Judging and help from partial referees. Referee Eddie Cotton proved that the US of A can have equally questionable judging. In some ways, Cotton was more of the story of this fight than the fighters were. Cotton may be remembered from his refereeing the Mike Tyson vs. Lennox Lewis fight, where Cotton took several opportunities to take points or impede Lewis ability to fight. At the end of that fight, Cotton cradled Tyson in his arms as he was knocked out by Lewis and there was nothing Cotton could do about it.

Acelino “Po Po” Freitas has been an exciting fighter, who gained world recognition after his close win over Cuban born Joel Casamayor. Freitas slugged it out with Joel and the way I remember it, won the first half of the fight and the last round while Casamayor won the later half of the fight minus one round at the end. Freitas demonstrated back then that he could not only slug, but box too. In his last fight against Argentine Jorge Barrios, Freitas looked less than technically sound and had a hard time with the little known Barrios, until his power bailed him out at the end of the fight.

In Artur Grigorian’s last fight (in Germany) against Matt Zegan a year ago, Grigorian won a very controversial decision in a fight many observers felt he lost, further fueling notions that German Judges can’t be trusted to score a fight fairly. All of Grigorian’s fights have been in Germany except for two in Hungary and now, one in Connecticut. Artur had not fought in a year and would not have the comfort of German Judges to help his cause in the USA. He also has not faced the caliber of
competition Freitas has. It really showed in his lackluster, debut performance in the capital of the boxing world, the United States.

Before Saturday, not many knew what to expect from Grigorian, other than to give him the benefit of the doubt that he was a solid fighter, based on his impressive record and number of title defenses. The question becomes, against who?

The Fight

Round 1
Freitas scored first. Grigorian didn’t do much and Acelino did slightly more. Freitas 10-9.

Round 2
Grigorian didn’t look too busy but was scoring some sneaky shots here and there. His approach was to box Freitas and it was effective in this round. Freitas did hardly anything in the second round. Grigorian 10-9.

Round 3
While Freitas throws wild punches and looks technically unsound, Grigorian looked composed and scored a few decent punches. Freitas actually looked nervous. Maybe it was all that jumping around? In a fairly slow moving round, Grigorian 10-9.

Round 4
Freitas scores nicely and in the next sequence, puts Grigorian down with a clean punch. The tide changed as Freitas tries to finish Artur but cannot. Freitas 10-8.

Round 5
Looking off balance, Freitas throws wild punches from all kinds of angles. Grigorian slips at one point and referee Eddie Cotton calls it a slip. Freitas scores more and in the absence of good looking boxing skills, Freitas wins the round with athleticism and will. Freitas 10-9.

Round 6
Grigorian slips from what looked like a push from Freitas. Cotton calls it a knockdown. Freitas style looks as awkward as I’ve ever seen it but he is effective in outscoring and out hustling his opponent. Freitas 10-8. (I had it 10-9 since that was a slip not a knockdown by my eyes.)

Round 7
Cotton warns Freitas for a low blow. A moment later, Freitas slips through the ropes...Cotton calls it a slip. Freitas fouls Grigorian with a punch behind the head that pushed Grigorian down to the canvas. Cotton rules it a knockdown. Grigorian seems to protest the call and is
frustrated that he must deal with both Freitas and Eddie Cotton. Freitas 10-8 (though it was really a 10-9 round for him).

Round 8
In a similar situation, the fighters exchange blows and a Freitas punch pushes Grigorian down again. Cotton rules it a slip. That time it DID look like a knockdown though. The hooking angles of Freitas power punches were pushing Artur after impact. That time, it was not exactly an illegal punch that sent him down, yet Cotton called it a slip? Strange. Then again, with Cotton, strange calls are routine. Grigorian throws a low blow that grazes Freitas hip. Cotton gives Freitas time to recover then the action continues. Cotton looked like a Freitas employee the way he addressed him. Cotton looks like he’s taken over for Richard Steele as the most controversial referee of this era. Freitas again push-punches Grigorian and he goes down from a slip, which Cotton called a knockdown. So...are you getting dizzy yet? Freitas 10-8 (really 10-9).

Round 9
Grigorian slips again, this time called a slip. This guy sure slips a lot. Freitas looked so sloppy and unorthodox, yet he effectively handles Grigorian. I have to wonder about Acelino’s trainer, Oscar Suarez. How does he have Freitas looking less and less technically sound fight after fight? How long will it be before Po Po pays the price? It wasn’t happening on Grigorian’s watch. Freitas 10-9.

Round 10
Early in the round, Eddie Cotton takes a point from Freitas for a low blow. It wasn’t like he had warned him several times, he just looked like he was trying to compensate for all his other bad calls so far. Round 10 was much the same as the others, with Freitas beating Grigorian to
the punch and out hustling him. Even 9-9.

Round 11
A boring and sloppy round where neither looked very effective. I score it 9-9 even.

Round 12
Freitas scores with repeated left hooks, then instead of trying to finish off his opponent, he runs from Grigorian for most of the final round, catching him on occasion with pot shots.
Shades of Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad came to mind, only Freitas had to be so far ahead on the scores, compliments of four called knockdowns, of which only one seemed legit.
Honestly, Grigorian may have won only one or two rounds at best. He was robotic, soft punching and not good at countering. He was bested all night by ‘Po Po’ Freitas. But it was not so entertaining watching Freitas act like a track star when he should have been acting like a prize fighter. Freitas 10-9.

The Judges scores were as follows:
Melvina Lathan: 116-107 for Freitas
Donald O’Neil: 116-107 for Freitas
Clark Sammartino: 115-108 for Freitas

I had it 116-105 for Freitas and Cotton.

Artur Grigorian turned out to be a safe fight for Freitas. He moved up to 135-pounds, (which he says is his natural weight) and wins a world title on his first Lightweight fight. How nice.

I think Freitas was better a few years ago. Today, he is sloppy and dangerously ripe for being knocked out by serious punchers who are not named Artur Grigorian. Maybe he should consider a new trainer, someone who will instill the fundamentals of boxing in him. Its one thing to be
unorthodox and another to just be sloppy. Saturday night, he looked like a 135-pound version of Ricardo Mayorga--minus the power. We all saw what happened to Mayorga when faced with a slick styled boxer not named Vernon Forrest. It WILL happen to Freitas if he even dares to fight Floyd Mayweather. I think Erik Morales will also expose him badly should they meet anytime soon.

I used to think Mayweather was avoiding Freitas. Now, my opinion has evolved. Freitas won big against a stiff European fighter who’s accustomed to fighting in his own backyard where the Judges can always save the day. Had the fight been in Hamburg instead of Connecticut, the scores might have been reversed. Freitas would have been lucky to get credit for the one real knockdown he scored. Against the cream of the 130-140 pounders, Freitas will be needing to buy some Judges of his own (or sign with Don King) or he’s going to get destroyed real soon. Again the questions rise about whether he should be called Popo or Poo poo. Until he shows some quality skills I have to go with Poo poo. He won the fight but looked like shit.

As for Grigorian, at 36 years old, he may be ready for the glue factory. Coming to fight a top fighter like Freitas here in the USA was a bold move and I credit his bravery. It was like stepping in poop for Artur Grigorian. Back in Germany, the fans must have been saying, “You can’t get a fair shake in the USA!” Oh, the irony.

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Article posted on 04.01.2004

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