Unification match proves as step-up in competition for Diaz
Houston native Juan Diaz won his WBA Lightweight title back in 2004 and defended six times before facing “Popo” Freitas. Pundits and critics alike thought Diaz needed to raise his competitive level to be considered a true division champion. Freitas beat Zahir Raheem for the vacant WBO title in 2005 by disputed split decision, opting to take a year off from the sport. “Popo” served as the perfect test for “Baby Bull” and unifying belts added much buzz to this action-packed fight.
The fight started competitively with Freitas landing hard shots. However, Diaz would come back with his own stiff shots without an effective jab. As the fight progressed into the later rounds, Diaz began putting together vicious powerful combos both upstairs and downstairs. Freitas became more gassed as he ate more shots. By round five, Freitas couldn’t stave off Diaz’s pressure. “Baby Bull” ripped off powerful shots while keeping “Popo” on the ropes. Diaz dominated until round eight when Freitas’ trainer informed the referee to stop the fight. Freitas has no more fight in him and sat on the stool battered and beaten.
Diaz took the test in stride, passing with flying colors. He unified the WBA and WBO belts, proving his status as a top lightweight. He attracted more fans with his stellar performance. Diaz would go on to have competitive fights with Juan Manuel Marquez and Paulie Malignaggi. Popo fought twice more before retiring from the sport.