Forgotten Legends: John ‘The Eastern Beast’ Brown

By: Steve Gallegos

There are some fighters who train hard, fight tough and for some reason or another cannot get to that next level and become world champion. That was the case for former Jr. Lightweight and Lightweight contender John The Eastern Beast” Brown.

Brown was a unique person in and out of the ring. Standing at only 5’4, Brown was a relentless, all action fighter who was in his opponent’s face for every second of every minute of every round. John Brown was born and raised in Atlantic City, NJ. Life growing up for John Brown was very rough as his brother was murdered and he was raised in 12 foster homes. Brown was a very angry person growing up, however he knew there was a beautiful world outside the dark, harsh world he had experienced and he was determined to find it. He would find it in boxing.

Brown would turn pro in 1989 and would go 18-4 over the next nine years, while mixing it up with top notch fighters such as Calvin Grove, Lamar Murphy and Jesus Chavez. Outside the ring, Brown would toughen himself up by living homeless on the streets while eating land crabs and cockroaches.

1998 would be a good year for Brown as he began to get national exposure and began his quest to a world title. He would face WBU Jr. Lightweight champion Angel Manfredy on 09/22/98 at Madison Square Garden. The bout was nationally televised on TNT’s short lived boxing series called “Title Night”. Although Brown would come up short and lose a unanimous decision, he was in Manfredy’s face all night and would frustrate him throughout the bout with his rough, inside fighting style. After the Manfredy fight, Brown was back in the gym and one month and two days later, he was back in the ring as he faced former world champion Gabriel Ruelas.

They met on 10/24/98 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ and it was part of an HBO Boxing After Dark doubleheader. Brown was a late substitution for Jesse James Leija, who was originally scheduled to face Ruelas that night. Brown battered Ruelas all night long en route to an 8th round TKO. This performance would set up a world title shot against “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

They met on 04/17/99 at the Fantasy Spring’s Casino in Indio, CA for the IBF Lightweight championship. Brown was able to frustrate Mosley at times and Mosley had difficulty with Brown’s height and wasn’t able to land many clean shots. In the eighth round, Mosley was able to catch and rock Brown with hard combinations which forced the ringside doctor to stop the fight in between rounds.

Brown would bounce back from this loss with a convincing 10 round unanimous decison victory over Francisco Cruz just four months later. This would set up another world title shot against Diego Corrales. They met on 12/04/99 in Lincoln City, OR for the IBF Jr Lightweight championship.
Brown showed his toughness once again in a game effort. During the fight, Corrales landed a hard right hand that didn’t move Brown. Corrales then said to Brown, “man you are a beast”, and Brown then looked at him and growled. The end result would be a 12 round unanimous decision win for Corrales.

Brown would begin the new millenium by going 2-0 with a No Contest in his next three fights, which included a convincing 12 round decision over unbeaten Robbie Peden. This win would set up another crack at a world title as he faced Steve Forbes. They met on 12/03/00 in Miami, FL for the vacant IBF Jr Lightweight championship. Brown boxed well against the very skilled Steve Forbes and was getting the better of him in most of the exchanges. As the bout was heading into the later stages of the fight, it appeared that John Brown was on his was to finally winning a world title, however in the eighth round, Brown began bleeding badly from his left ear. Referee Jorge Alonso called time and called the ringside doctor over to inspect the ear. The doctor determined that the eardrum was punctured, forcing the fight to be stopped.

It was an eighth round TKO win for Steve Forbes, however John Brown was ahead on all three judge’s scorecards and was on his way to winning the fight. Nine months later, Brown and Forbes met again, however this time Forbes would win a 12 round unanimous decision. It was pretty much the end of the road for John Brown at the top.

He would not challenge for a world title again and would go 1-10-2 over the next 10 years. His record as a professional stands at 24-19 with five KO’s. He was a special breed of fighter who always showed up in top shape and ready to fight any time he stepped into the ring. He mixed it up with some of the best fighters of his era in their prime and he always gave them their money’s worth. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t able to get to that next level and get that title called “Champion”.
John Brown

Forgotten Classics: Acelino Freitas vs Jorge Barrios

By: Steve Gallegos

Usually, when rival countries Brazil and Argentina go head to head, it’s on the soccer field; however one summer night in 2003, the eyes of both countries were focused on the prize ring when unbeaten AcelinoPopoFreitas of Brazil squared off with Argentina’s JorgeLa HienaBarrios.

Acelino Freitas was a fan favorite in the early 2000’s. He was an aggressive puncher who produced exciting KO’s and he was regarded by many as the best, pure puncher in boxing. He won the WBO Super Featherweight championship in 1999 with a first round KO of Anatoly Alexandrov. It was in his fourth defense of the title that the mainstream boxing public got their first look at “Popo“.

In June of 2000, he appeared on HBO’s short lived boxing program KO Nation and he was impressive in destroying Lemuel Nelson in two rounds. After that, he signed a huge contract with Showtime Networks. In January of 2002, Freitas unified the division when defeated WBA Jr. Lightweight champion Joel Casamayor by unanimous decision in what was a very close, competitive fight.

Before Sergio Martinez, Marcos Maidana and Lucas Matthysee, Jorge Barrios was the face of boxing in Argentina. He was a flashy, exciting fighter who loved to come forward and brawl. He was also a major star outside of the ring as he was an actor, a model and a singer. He had an impressive record of 39-1-1 going into the Freitas bout and he also picked up a few minor and regional title belts in the process; however he was virtually unknown outside of Argentina.

Freitas and Barrios met on 08/09/03 at the Miami Arena in Miami, FL for the WBA/WBO Super Featherweight titles. Barrios entered the ring sporting colorful soccer Attire to go along with a red doo rag and red sunglasses. He appeared loose, confident and determined to shine in his U.S. debut. Freitas came into the ring more reserved, more focused. It was a packed house full of Argentines and Brazilians waving their flags while cheering soccer style.

In the first round, Freitas came out using his jab and was trying to keep the fight on the outside where he had the advantage and he was doing well for the first half of the round, however this didn’t last long. The distance closed in the final minute of the round as both men exchanged punches, both to good effect. The best punch of the round came from Freitas who landed a good right uppercut that staggered Barrios.

The second round belonged to Barrios as he pressed forward, being the aggressor. He was able to get inside on Freitas and landed some good clubbing shots. Freitas came out in the third using his jab and was using it well to set up his hard right hand and began landing it at will. Freitas tagged Barrios with at least three hard right hand shots that would have knocked out many other opponents, however Barrios took them well and kept coming forward while landing some shots of his own.

The right hand shots from Freitas opened up two cuts. On on the bridge of Barrios‘ nose and another on the edge of the left eye. Freitas continued to box in the fourth round by using his left jab to set up his right and was doing fairly well, however Barrios was unphased and continued to press forward forcing the exchanges which provided some exciting action. Round five was fought at a much slower pace. Freitas stayed mostly on the outside, using his left jab to keep Barrios at bay and didn’t allow the him to get on the inside. Freitas had only fought four rounds in the last 12 months and he appeared to be pacing himself for the long haul.

Barrios continued to press forward in the sixth, trying to make the fight a brawl as he threw wild lunging punches, however they weren’t landing clean and Freitas was able to duck and slip. Freitas continued to use his jab, however he was hesitant to throw his right hand as it appeared to be hurt. At the beginning of the seventh, referee Jorge Alonso called the ringside doctor over to take a look at Barrios as he began to bleed slightly from the right ear. The doctor inspected it and determined he had a ruptured eardrum, however the fight could continue.

Freitas dominated most of the seventh round by using his jab to set up his right hand and he was using lateral movement to avoid exchanges. In the last 30 seconds of the round, Barrios closed the distance by forcing “Popo” against the ropes, roughing Freitas up as the round came to an end. Freitas dominated most of the eighth round in similar fashion. Barrios, with the blood pouring down his face, slowed down his attack somewhat and was looking to time Freitas. In the last 20 seconds of the round, Barrios landed a straight left that put Freitas down. Acelino immediately rose to his feet and nodded his head as if to say “Yeah, I got caught”. The tide had turned somewhat in favor of Barrios.

Barrios capiltalized on the knockdown in the eighth by fighting very impressively in the ninth as he remained the aggressor, pressing forward while landing some good shots. He looked as though he might be taking control of the fight as Freitas seemed to hold back in the ninth. Barrios came out in the 10th with blood pouring badly down the left side of his face and another cut had opened up over his right eye. Freitas started the 10th by greeting Barrios with a hard, straight right hand. Freitas began to stick and move while jabbing and landing his right hand, however Barrios showed his world class chin and kept coming forward, landing some good shots of his own. Barrios‘ left eye was bleeding badly and during a break by the referee, Barrios leaned over and wiped his eye on referee Jorge Alonso’s shirt.

In the 11th. both men stood on the outside looking to counter the other’s lead. Barrios began to jab effectively and then he landed a solid 1-2 left, right combination that put Freitas down again. This time Freitas was hurt and he took a few seconds to get up. The combination that put Freitas down, also knocked the mouth piece out and Freitas got a few extra seconds to let his head clear as the mouthpiece was put back in. Freitas, however was in trouble and Barrios moved in, trying to finish his man and during another break in the action, Barrios once again leaned over and wiped his cut on referee Jorge Alonso’s sleeve.

Barrios continued to stalk Freitas, however “Popo” stayed away and was able to clear his head. The fight that had many twists and turns, took a huge detour as Freitas landed a hard, straight right hand at the bell that buckled Barrios and put him down. Barrios wasn’t able to be saved by the bell, however he did get up. Freitas came out in the 12th and landed a hard right hand that buckled Barrios again and he followed it up with another hard right that put Barrios down again. Barrios once again showed heart by getting up, however he was in a daze. Barrios went down again due to a slip, however he was slow to get up and his legs were wobbling as he tried to get up, forcing referee Jorge Alonso to stop the fight.

It was an dramatic end to a very exciting fight that had many twists and turns. It was a hard fought victory for Freitas and it would be his last fight at 130 lbs. He moved up to lightweight for his next fight and outpoined Artur Grigorian by unanimous decision to win the WBO lightweight title. He would then lose the title and his first fight in August of 2004, when he was stopped by Diego Corrales in the 10th round. He would regain the WBO lightweight title a year and a half later when he decisioned 1996 U.S. Olympian Zahir Raheem. Freitas would however lose his title one year later in a lightweight title unification bout with Juan Diaz when “Popo” quit on his stool prior to the eighth round. He would remain inactive for five years and returned to the ring in June of 2012, scoring a ninth round KO over Michael Oliveira. He hasn’t fought since. His record as professional stands at 39-2 with 33 KO’s.

Barrios rebounded from this less fairly well. Two years and three wins later, Barrios won the WBO Super Featherweight title by scoring a fourth round TKO over Mike Anchondo, becoming Argentina’s first Super Featherweight titleholder. He would successfully defend his title only once before losing it via split decision to Joan Guzman in September of 2006. He would go 4-1 over the next four years. He hasn’t fought since 2010. Barrios‘ record stands at 50-4-2 with 35 KO’s. They were two fighters from rival countries who were as different as oil and water, however they mixed together very well to produce one of the “Forgotten Classics” of the last decade.

Freitas vs Barrios







Photo Credit: Hector Gabino/AFP/Getty Images (Acelino Freitas, (R), Jorge Barrios (L).

Forgotten Classics: Jose Luis Castillo vs Joel Casamayor

By: Steve Gallegos

When it comes to boxing, Mexico and Puerto Rico have a huge rivarly and it has produced some memorable bouts over the years; however Mexico vs Cuba is an underrated rivarly and it produces some interesting matchups stylistically.

Mexico is known for their come forward, in your face style, while the Cubans are known for their slick, skillful defensive boxing. When the two styles collide, it can sometimes make for a very interesting, exciting chess-match. That was the case when lightweight champion Jose Luis Castillo met up with the slick, defensive wizard Joel Casamayor.

In 2004, Jose Luis Castillo was at the top of his game. He was in his second reign as the WBC lightweight champion and Ring Magazine recognized him as the legitimate lightweight champion. Castillo mixed it up and had already defeated top notch fighters such as Stevie Johnston and Cesar Bazan. He went 24 rounds with Floyd Mayweather and gave him a run for his money in both fights, losing both by decision. The first fight with Mayweather was close and many thought Castillo deserved the decision.

After Mayweather vacated his lightweight title in 2004, Castillo regained the title by decisioning Juan Lazcano in convincing fashion. Joel Casamayor was at a bit of a crossroads in 2004. The former WBA super featherweight champion had been on somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for the last year. He went 2-1 in his last three bouts, including splitting bouts with Diego Corrales, in which the first fight was a sensational war. He began 2004 by losing a close, split decision to Corrales and he followed it up with decision win over Daniel Seda four months later.

Castillo and Casamayor met on 12/04/04 at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for both the WBC lightweight title and the Ring Magazine lightweight title. Going into the bout, many questioned Casamayor’s style and his tendancy to be dirty at times. Castillo said that Casamayor wasn’t a dirty fighter and that he was rough inside the ring.

The first round was tactical as Casamayor stayed out of harms way and took advantage of Castillo’s habit of starting slowly. Casamayor dictated the tempo with his excellent movement and counter-punching. Rounds 2-6 were more of the same as Casamayor dictated the pace with his lateral movement and crisp counter-punching. While he wasn’t landing the hardest shot, they were racking up points. Castillo continued to come forward, putting on the pressure which made Casamayor use his legs more. In the 7th round, Castillo began to turn the tide by getting in some right hand shots that stopped Casamayor in his tracks. Castillo’s shots did have more pop on them and when they landed, they hurt Casamayor.

Castillo continued the pressure in the 8th as he was able to rough Casamayor up on the inside with shots to the body and head which caused Joel to grab and hold. Casamayor still got in some good shots; however they lacked the sting that they had in the previous rounds. The two fighters exchanged shots at the end of the round and they continued to fight after the bell, which caused both corners to come into the ring to have them separated. Roberto Duran, who was working Casamayor’s corner told him in between rounds to box him and not stand and fight.

In the ninth, both men would stand and trade shots, both having success. Casamayor had to dig a little deeper in this round and was able to land some some hard straight left hands which gave him the momentum. In the 10th, Casamayor would dominate the most of the round by giving Castillo angles while landing his counter-shots. Castillo continued pressing forward, applying pressure and in the last 15 seconds of the round, got in a good combination to the head and the body which hurt Casamayor, causing him to tie up. Castillo would dominate the 11th with his ongoing pressure. The fight appeared to be on the table going into the 12th and both fighter’s faces were busted up and swelled due to the hard shots exchanged. Castillo continued the pressure and was determined to close the show to retain his title. As the final seconds winded down both men traded shots wildly; however Castillo’s shots did the damage and the final bell sounded with Casamayor being rocked.

It was hard to determine who the winner was. Was Casamayor’s early dominance enough to secure a victory or was Castillo’s constant pressure and hard punching throughout the second half of the bout enough to retain his title. The end result would be a split decision win for Jose Luis Castillo in which two judges scored the bout 117-111 and 116-112 for Castillo and the third judge scored the bout 115-113 for Casamayor.

Castillo would begin 2005 with a 10th round TKO and then he would be involved in one of the best fights of the decade and all time with Diego Corrales in which he would drop Corrales twice in the 10th before being stopped towards the end of the round. Castillo would knockout Corrales in the rematch, however he wasn’t able to win back his title due to his inability to make the contracted weight of 135 lbs.

Castillo and Corrales were set to meet again in June, 2006, however Castillo again failed to make the weight, therefore the fight was scrapped. He would move up to Jr. Welterweight and would challenge Ricky Hatton for his world title, however he was stopped in four rounds by a body shot. He continued to fight on up until 2013 going 8-4 with 8 KO’s. He hasn’t fought since March of 2013 and he hasn’t officially announced his retirement. His record stands at 64-11-1 with 55 KO’s.

Joel Casamayor would get a third fight with Diego Corrales 22 months later and would win a split decision, winning the lineal lightweight title. He would defend that title twice before being stopped for the first time in his career by Juan Manuel Marquez in a pretty exciting fight. He would go 2-2 in his next four bouts, losing lopsidedly to both Robert Guerrero and Timothy Bradley. His record stands at 38-6-1 with 22 KO’s. While the Mexico-Cuban rivarly isn’t as big as the Mexican-Puerto Rican rivarly, it has provided some classics such as this one when Jose Luis Castillo and Joel Casamayor waged war in one of the lost gems of the early 2000’s.






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