Is it fair to say that only a true boxing fan loves an underdog? Probably not. Everyone roots for the underdog. People love to see someone beat the odds. No matter how much you want one athlete to win, your heart goes out for the underdog. There is something undeniably touching about a boxer, what they put themselves through and how they keep persevering.
Professional boxer Isaac “The Puma” Freeman found himself alone, sitting in a hotel room after a 5 hour drive to Las Vegas, dehydrated to make weight, starving, waiting for food that never came… Isaac knew it was time for a change. That time is now.
Isaac Freeman is a welterweight boxer from Liberia now fighting out of Los Angeles. His message to fight fans is, “Don’t look at my record, come see me fight.” After 5 years of professional boxing, 30 year old Isaac wants to prove himself. Driven by a new team and inspired with a sense of family and spirituality, “Puma” is ready to take control of his career, and box for the win.
We met at Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. The excitement and hunger of the boxers in the gym is electric. We walked downstairs and ducked into the local Thai spot wallpapered with famous boxers, mostly Manny Pacquiao. I had the opportunity to get to know Isaac and his team over egg roll and drinks. Puma had water only.
During Isaac’s childhood his country was at war and his father was killed by the government when he was only 6-years-old. Things did not get better for Isaac and by the age of 9 he had attempted suicide. More deaths, and specifically the death of his uncle affected Isaac deeply.
With his Mom, he arrived in Maryland USA. Freeman bounced around a few states before he decided to make his way to Los Angeles by himself. Isaac had no family or friends in LA to lean on. Boxing since he was 24, he began training at the well famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood. Quickly Isaac began sparring with the likes of Mikey Garcia, Shawn Porter, and Jaime Munguia. In order to survive he would take any fight, any time, anywhere. This meant sometimes extreme dieting, sometimes not being ready, not having the right nutrition, and not having a proper team behind him.
“He’s not the same boxer” said trainer, friend, and former two time WBA world champion boxer Joachim Alcine. “I have to remind him how good he is, I want him to get his chance.”
Isaac Freeman’s last fight was a draw at 360 Promotions Hollywood Fight Nights. Freeman shined that night against Nathan Weston 6-2 (0 KO’s) who had a 3” height advantage and is younger as well. The anticipation was high for Puma that night. His team did not want to make any complaints and kept their goals in sight.
“He won 3 rounds out of 4,” Puma’s manager Tony Pasha said about the draw on Isaac’s last fight. “That’s ok, he’ll be fighting twice before the end of the year.”
Now Puma’s life is grounded both mentally, physically, and spiritually. Manager Tony Pasha from Pasha Racing Inc. said, “His body was ready, but his mind wasn’t.” Having his coach and manager at the interview was cool. They could not have been friendlier, but I also felt a sense of protectiveness.
Isaac sat across from me drinking his water with a smile and confidence. “This is what I’ve been praying for.”
Isaac Freeman’s story makes you want to explore some of the never ending rumors about the sport. There are trainers, promoters and managers to be dealt with that have binding contracts. There is also the age old rumor of promoters and managers “making or breaking” a boxers career.
Isaac Freeman has a mellow peaceful way about him. He happily answered, “Errol Spence!” He stopped to look at his trainer, smiled and said, “Terrance Crawford!” when I asked who his dream fight opponent would be.
Boxing careers have strategies like any other. A good team behind you is going to make sure you win under all circumstances. That’s what Puma, his coach and manager have now set up. “We’ve already turned down 3 fights. No more B side boxing,” said manager Tony Pasha.