29.04.06 – By Izyslav “Slava” Koza: Well chalk up another bad prediction for me, since I thought Acelino Freitas (38-1, 32 KO’s) was mentally done after the Corrales beating, and Zahir Raheem (27-2, 16 KO’s) would not take the Morales win for granted. Regardless of what Max Kellerman thought, I saw the fight easily for Freitas, and only had it close on points because I was giving the close rounds to Raheem..
The fight itself was dirty but surprisingly watchable, as in between the ugliness some good punches did get through. Freitas hand-speed and power were on display in every single round he won which by my count were at least 7, while the other five though close, excluding the one where Raheem hurt Freitas badly, went to Raheem because he didn’t get hit with any mind numbing power. Though compu-box had it close the tale was rather told by the effect Freitas’s power had on Raheem, who seemed eerily similar to Cory Spinks in the second Judah fight. There was just too much brashness on the way to the ring and not enough inside it once Freitas showed he was there to win and not make Raheem look good.
The first round was tactical and nothing much really happened, so I thought Raheem deserved it based on him being champ and nullifying Acelino’s power. Rounds two and three went to Freitas who landed the harder shots that seemed to take the fight out of Raheem and forced him to clinch and grab. Round four went to Raheem based on Popo not landing enough, while five was more of the same tactically superior power from Freitas. Six was the round where I believe Freitas got hurt, grabbed on for dear life and Raheem tossed him aside like a rag doll. Freitas took the opportunity to spit out the mouth piece and buy time. When the action resumed, Freitas easily sweeped seven, eight, and nine with power shots, which I thought clearly made Raheem woozy and forced him to clinch. Round ten was close and went to Raheem because Freitas did not land enough, while in the eleventh a good uppercut inside sealed it for Freitas, in my view. The twelfth was very boring and dirty with neither fighter landing really cleanly but since Raheem did not let Freitas land anything too hard, I gave him that round. HBO commentator, Max Kellerman disagreed in giving the first and twelfth to Freitas, which is why I suppose the rounds I thought Raheem took were relatively close.
Another important point in the bout was Raheem’s imitation of the Spinks trip tactic in the Mayorga fight. This is where the fighter gets in close, clinches, and though obviously hurt pretends to fall, or pushes the other guy, and it seems as if both lost their balance, when in reality, he is trying to camouflage the effects felt from the punch, or being flat out fatigued. That said, there were at least two knockdowns in the fight by my count that were a direct result of Freitas landing straight and hard right on the money and Raheem falling into him and then going down as if it were a slip. Had those counted, as I believe they should, Freitas’s margin of victory would have been even more significant. This is surprising actually, because when Freitas fought and beat Artur Grigorian, though, the margin of victory should have been small, the four actual slips by Grigorian, due to Freitas weird capoeira like style, were ruled knockdowns.
It might also have to do with Raheem’s weird super wide legged stance, which leaves him off balance, and harder to hit since he is lower but that does not seem that likely. Of course, it also allows him to bend really low and then come up grabbing the guy on the back, butt or legs in a clinch but that, I guess, is smart boxing. Of course, Raheem did the right thing by playing of not being hurt, but there is no credit for best acting awards. It was obvious Freitas was getting in the harder punches, and thankfully, though, I smelled foul play, the judges saw who was doing more damage by a mile.
Also, I would like to add that the victim mentality of Raheem, claiming he was fighting in Freitas hometown, is completely bogus. I don’t care what sort of cheers he heard from the audience, this is not Rio or Brasillia in Brazil; it’s Foxwoods in Connecticut, which is closer to Raheem’s hometown of Philly then it is to Freitas’s in Brazil. That said, I just get annoyed a bit when a fighter comes up with all these small reasons here or there to justify a bad performance. To put in perspective, the crowd was cheering Raheem in the twelfth so there is no validity to that argument.
On a side note: the HBO crew did a good job in their first telecast, even though we could have done without Lennox’s “This is a fight he wants to win and must win, because he doesn’t want to lose.” Other then that, Kellerman and Charles did ok, and Lennox was good when he didn’t try to agree with everything the other guys said. Foreman and Jones didn’t and Lennox should find his niche and call the non boxers out on a few things once in a while.
All in all, the show was a success, starting from Ward deconstructing a good sound composed, but comparatively limited Kolle, to Freitas outgunning the overconfident Raheem. It was also very pleasant to hear Freitas, a foreigner living in Brazil say “God Bless America,” for a change, something foreigners haven’t been doing lately, in my opinion. It was well appreciated, Acelino. Good Job, HBO and congrats to the winners.