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Casamayor Looks To Celebrate July 4th in a Different Way
By Chris Robinson (July 1st, 2004) 
Photo © Brendon Pierpaoli
It is a fact that the 4th of July holiday is not celebrated in Cuba as it is in the States, but that won’t be stopping Joel Casamayor from looking to light up fireworks of his own when he meets Puerto Rican Daniel Seda on the eve of the holiday at Miami's AmericanAirlines Arena. The fight is an important one for the 32 year old Cuban defector, who is looking to re-establish himself, coming off of a close split decision loss to Diego Corrales just four months prior.

Casamayor fits the mold of a textbook fighter, he is a pleasure to watch. The southpaw throws his shots in rapid fashion and his power is underrated. In the ring he is a technician, gliding on his feet and pot shotting his opponents from different angles. He has taken on some stiff tasks throughout his 32 fight career, coming short on just two occasions; both fights being close decision losses, one of them controversial in the eyes of many.

Joel had a prolific amateur record of 380-30 and won the gold medal for Cuba in the 1992 Olympic games, decisioning Ireland’s Wayne McCullough. Reportedly Casamayor was rewarded with merely a bicycle as a gift from Fidel Castro for his gold winning effort. The gold medalist later sold the bicycle for a pig, which he used to feed his family. Upset with Castro and life under the guard of Cuba’s national team trainers, Casamayor would later defect to the United States to chase his dream of becoming a world champion.

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He compiled a record of 19-0, fighting in places such as Miami, Atlantic City, Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Texas, Connecticut, and Colorado. In his 20th fight he would meet St. Petersburg, Florida’s ‘Diamond’ David Santos at the Miccosukee Gaming Resort, in Miami, Florida. Santos is no slouch and gave a good fight, but Casamayor was a level above and would capture a clear decision win, setting up a shot for the WBA Jr. Lightweight belt against Seoul’s Jong-Kwon Baek.

Casamayor was in rare form, out hustling and out speeding his way towards a 5th round TKO. Baek’s face was a bloody mess, with the ringside doctor advising the bout to be halted, placing the WBA strap in the hands of the slick Cuban. Casamayor next decisioned Bernard Harris over 10 lopsided rounds and later tore apart super-confident Radford Beasley in Las Vegas, icing the Missouri native in the 5th round in one of his finest pro outings.

A rough victory over former champ Roberto Garcia and two run of the mill wins over Edwin Santana and Joe Morales followed, setting up a huge unification showdown with deadly power puncher Acelino ‘Popo’ Freitas in early 2002. Freitas was called a fraud by many before the fight, but the Brazilian native came to fight and got off to a fast start against Casamayor. Stiff right hands and hard body shots led the way and Freitas built up a lead over the first half of the fight. Known as a one punch banger to many, it was Freitas who would be out boxing Casamayor early and things looked bleak for ‘El Cepillo.’

Casamayor dug down and found his championship pride later in the fight, turning up the heat and changing the momentum of the fight down the stretch. Freitas’ head was being snapped back by sharp counterpunches and Cuba now had Brazil on the run. The two champions traded shots and at the end of the bell the decision was up in the air.

Despite Casamayor's late success it would be Freitas' victory by scores of 114-112 on all three judges cards. Casamayor was upset, feeling he clearly had won the fight. Joel returned to the ring six months later against rugged Juan Arias underneath Lennox Lewis’ destruction of Mike Tyson.

Casamayor still had the fire inside of him and took it out on Arias, using the Mexican for target practice on his way to an 8th round TKO victory. Next up was old sparring mate Yoni Vargas.

It was said in sparring that Vargas held his own with Joel but things changed dramatically once the headgear came off. Casamayor was sharp and took Vargas to school. He dropped the Mexicali native twice in the 5th round and Vargas’ corner wisely threw in the towel. Next in line was a match-up with Buddy McGirt's trainee Nate Campbell, a.k.a. the "Galaxy Warrior.’

The fight was close and it was Campbell getting off to a fast start, using his herky-jerky style to offset his foe but Casamayor adapted and picked his spots down the stretch, coming away with a 98-92, 97-93, 96-94 decision win. The win was a big one for Casamayor, as it would set up another huge showdown, this time with hard-hitting Diego ‘Chico’ Corrales.

Corrales is known to most as the man who brutally knocked out the likes of Roberto Garcia, Justin Juuko, and Angel Manfredy before losing in one-sided fashion to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in early 2001. After the loss Corrales served a jail term for reasons that will go unnamed, but come early 2003 he would be back where he belonged, in the middle of the boxing ring wrecking havoc on foes.

Corrales reeled off four TKO victories to get things going in 2003, but in Casamayor he would meet a completely different breed of fighter. Many were picking Corrales to end things in brutal fashion, sensing that perhaps Casamayor was beginning to slip. Joel would have none of that, bringing his A game and getting off to a fast start against Corrales. Laser left hands would clip Corrales’ chin in the early going and Casamayor would drop Corrales in both the 3rd and the 4th rounds. It looked like Joel would be eating up Corrales faster than a Cuban Sandwich, but Chico’s championship pride wouldn’t let him go out that way, as he caught Casamayor coming in with a lethal left hook that had ‘El Cepillo” tasting canvas.

The fight was back and forth over the next couple of rounds and things got even more heated in the sixth. In this round Casamayor would hammer Corrales all over the ring and it looked like the end was near. As Joel went in for the kill he was greeted by another monster Corrales left hand and Casamayor would now be the one riding his bicycle, and I don’t mean the one that Castro gave to him, either.

Halfway through, the fight still was up in the air, but in Corrales’ corner the real drama would be going down. Doctor Margaret Goodman was assessing a cut in Corrales’ mouth and she deemed the cut too deep for Corrales to continue, granting Casamayor a TKO win over Chico.

While Corrales vehemently argued the decision Casamayor was lifted in the air, and began celebrating one of the finest wins of his career. Afterwards many felt that Corrales should have been allowed to continue, thinking he should have at least had one more round to try to end things. Many felt a rematch would be just, and the fans were granted their wish just five months later as Casamayor and Corrales once again met.

The bout was held at the Foxwoods Casino, in Mashantucket, Connecticut and the two warriors didn’t disappoint. The fight wasn’t as wild as their first affair but there was enough action to keep things interesting. This time Corrales came out boxing more, using a stiff jab that was missing from the first contest. Casamayor seemed taken back and couldn’t seem to get into his groove. Corrales was well ahead through the first half of the fight and continued to stalk the competition down. Later in the fight Casamayor would settle into a better zone, and began finding the range with his quick left hand shots.

Corrales was dropped in the 10th and Casamayor closed the remaining championship rounds in grand fashion, but still didn’t seem to do enough to come away on top. The judges agreed, awarding Corrales a split decision win and handing the Cuban Casamayor his second loss as a pro.

Casamayor feels as though he won the Corrales rematch and still believes he is undefeated, despite what his record indicates. He would love to get either Freitas or Corrales in the ring again but must first take care of his July 3rd opponent, the energetic Puerto Rican Daniel Seda.

Seda isn’t a bad fighter but he simply isn’t in Casamayor’s league. I first watched Seda against Nana Konadu in New York’s famed Madison Square Garden in May of 2001 underneath Felix Trinidad’s destruction of William Joppy. Seda struck me as a fighter with somewhat limited skills, but plenty of heart and enough punching power to get respect from just about any opponent he meets. He took some heavy bombs from Konadu and weathered the storm, later finishing the veteran off in the 9th round.

Seda’s most recent televised appearance was against slick southpaw Derrick Gainer and it was nearly a disaster. Gainer cracked Seda with a chopping left hand just 20 seconds into the fight and Seda was sent to the mat. Gainer continued to befuddle him and looked to be well in charge entering the 2nd round. In this round the two fighters bumped heads and the fight was called off, due to a massive cut suffered by Gainer from the initial head butt.

Seda has since gone under the radar a bit, and will be looking to return in grand fashion on July 3rd against Joel Casamayor.

To me this fight isn’t hard to figure out. Casamayor appears to be the faster, stronger, and more polished of the two fighters. He should be able to use his southpaw style to confuse Seda all night and once Joel’s left hands start to find a home, Seda will probably begin to crumble.

I expect Casamayor to start fast and dish out a punishing beatdown on the kid. I don’t think things will go further than the 5th round. In America we celebrate the 4th of July with the lighting of fireworks and the grilling of hot dogs and hamburgers. I expect Joel Casamayor to dish out explosives of his own kind on his way towards grilling Daniel Seda.

The celebrating that Casamayor will be doing on July 4th will be knowing that his career is back in the win column, and many more high profile fights should be heading his way soon afterwards
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