Juan Diaz unified the WBA and WBO lightweight titles with an eight-round stoppage of Popo Freitas last night in Mashantucket, CT, the same building where Diego Corrales was able to beat Freitas into quitting in 10 rounds. This time, Freitas refused to answer the bell for the ninth round, and the "Baby Bull" improved to 32-0 with his biggest win to date.
Some thought that Freitas started hot last night, but I didn't really agree. I thought he took the second round and that the first was tight, but after that you could see the difference in the fighters. Diaz was pushing all the action, which was expected. Freitas fought back, but I don't know that he ever landed a really solid shot, and with the volume he was throwing, that should have been relatively easy to do.
Freitas peppered most of the fight. Slapping hooks here, slapping hooks there. He tried to work in an uppercut that truthfully just didn't work, as he landed it cleanly once or twice, if at all. It became clear in the fifth round or so that Diaz was simply too sturdy, too thick, and too physically strong to be hurt by Freitas, whose power hasn't been the same at 135 as it was at 130, anyway.
Popo, on the other hand, could have been knocked out in the fifth round had he not fallen into the arms of Diaz on two occasions. He was also being rocked badly in the eighth, the round after which he decided he'd had enough. After quitting, Freitas was on one of his cornermen's shoulders, celebrating...something.
Diaz's only weakness is punching power. He's not a knockout guy, and he doesn't have one single superb punch. But he's rugged, he's tough, and he knows what he's doing. As for Freitas, that might have been it.
In other fights from last night, Ivan "Iron Boy" Calderon and Ricardo Torres retained their titles in Colombia. Calderon improved to 28-0 with a victory over Colombian fighter Ronald Barrera, a split decision (115-113, 115-113, 113-115). Calderon is tentatively scheduled to fight next in August, against Hugo Cazares (24-3-1). Torres (31-1) beat Arturo Morua (24-9-1) in an easy defense of his WBO light welterweight title, scoring a lopsided unanimous decision (120-109, 120-108, 118-110). Torres likely faces mandatory challenger Kendall Holt next.
In Germany, Felix Sturm outpointed Javier Castillejo to win the WBA middleweight title, on scores of 116-112, 115-114, and 116-112. Sturm improves to 27-2, and Castillejo falls to 61-7. On the same card, 6-foot-5 southpaw light heavyweight Stipe Drews (32-1) beat veteran Silvio Branco (55-9-2) by unanimous decision.
That wraps up Saturday's more important results, and now, here we go. Six more days until the superfight between Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. It's the boxing event of the year, and we'll be here this week covering any last-minute news and hype, and we'll be here on Saturday to provide live, round-by-round coverage of all three pay-per-view fights.