Diaz retains WBA lightweight crown against Freitas

Apr 29, 2007 - 6:02 AM MASHANTUCKET, Connecticut (Ticker) -- Juan Diaz added to his collection Saturday night.

Undefeated WBA champion Diaz retained his title and added the WBO belt of Acelino Freitas with an eighth-round TKO at Foxwoods Resort Casino.

"I'm really happy to become a two-time world champion," Diaz said. "I'm very elated right now. ... I want to thank Popo Freitas for giving me the opportunity to face one of the greatest champions in the world.

"This was the biggest fight of my career, but I have faced opponents who hit harder than Freitas did tonight. I took his best punches and gave back five or six when he got in two or three."

In his first bout since November, the 23-year-old Diaz (32-0, 16 KOs) successfully defended his title six times since winning it from Lakva Sim in July 2004.

Nicknamed "Baby Bull" for his relentless style and aggression, Diaz used his trademark non-stop style but Freitas (38-2) hung in there in the early rounds.

"I was surprised he was willing to stay in there and fight with me as much as he did," Diaz said. "I thought he would try to box me more. He hit me with some clean punches and I stepped back a few steps when he did but he never seriously hurt me."

Diaz hurt Freitas in the fifth and continued to batter him over the next three rounds until Freitas did not leave his stool for the ninth round.

"When Juan got hit with a clean shot he came back and gave more than he got," Diaz's trainer Ronnie Shields said. "Nothing demoralizes an opponent more than that. You can't coach this into a fighter.

"It's in the heart of all great champions. It's embedded in Juan as part of his natural instincts and anyone he faces is going to have to deal with it."

Freitas was looking for his fourth straight win after losing his title in embarrassing fashion to Diego Corrales here in August 2004. In a bout that became one-sided, Freitas quit in the middle of the 10th round.

Freitas, 31, recaptured the WBO title that he lost to Corrales by winning a split decision from timid Zahir Raheem on April 29, 2006.

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