As an amateur, Freeman was a two-time national champion at 147 lbs. He was also the All-Caribbean Title holder. He competed in the 1992 Olympic Trials for the Caribbean Zone, losing a controversial decision to a Venezuelan who was unable to advance due to injuries and cuts he suffered in that bout. He accomplished all this in an amateur career which only consisted of nine total bouts! After his heartbreaking loss in the Olympic Trials, he decided to turn pro. He was nineteen at the time. His first three fights were in the Bahamas, all scheduled six rounders, before he moved to Florida.
After training in Florida, Freeman went back to the Bahamas for his fourth professional fight, a successful six round decision over journeyman Glen Major. He has been fighting in Florida ever since, capturing the Florida State Middleweight Title with an impressive win over tough southpaw Tony Brooks, in September of 1996.
It was in this bout that Freeman showed his character, sustaining an injured right thumb in round two, a bad cut on his left eye lid from a head butt in round four (requiring fourteen stitches), liniment in his eye in round five, temporarily blinding him, and becoming dead tired in rounds seven and eight, before catching a second wind to finish strong. (He had never fought beyond six rounds prior to this bout). In spite of these adversities, he won eleven of twelve rounds on all three of the judges' scorecards.
He was beginning to catch the eye of many knowledgeable boxing people who all predicted big things for him, not only for his ability, but because of his dedication, attitude and work ethic. He had been included, by the respected Don Carnahan, in "Boxing's Top Prospects," as listed by the International Brotherhood of Prizefighters. Hank Kaplan, who has seen every one of Freeman's U.S. fights, and has watched him train and spar in the gym, feels he has the tools to go to the top. Jose Torres and Emanuel Steward were both extremely excited about his prospects, after they saw him perform. Jesse Reid, trainer of seven world champions, after watching Freeman spar with Hector Camacho for fifteen rounds (over three days), exlaimed, "He's one helluva prospect."
After defeating Tony Brooks, Freeman Barr appeared in the NABO ratings and was offered a title shot against champion Rito Ruvalcaba, of Mexico. Freeman wanted to fight so badly he hid his sickness from everyone just prior to the fight. He had disappeared for two days before showing up for the weigh-in. It wasn't found out unil afterwards, but he had collapsed in bed with a 103 degree temperature. Despite his weakened condition, Freeman won five of the first seven rounds before his gas tank ran completely dry and he was trapped against the ropes in round eight by Ruvalcaba, with the referee stopping the fight.
He rebounded from this loss with an impressive performance against Andres Arellano, stopping him after the tenth round (unable to answer the bell for round eleven), to win the IBC Americas Middleweight Championship. He successfully defended his title on May 23, 1997 against Roosevelt Booth (12-6-1), with a sixth round TKO. He next defeated Johnny McClendon via unanimous decision on August 9, 1997 and followed that with a victory to capture the IBO Middleweight Championship of the world by winning a unanimous decision over tough "Downtown" Jerry Brown. He had become only the second Bahamian ever (Elisha Obed was the first) to be a world champion. His title winning effort was in Nassau, Bahamas, on September 20, 1997.
On January 31, 1998, Barr successfully defended his IBO world title as he TKO'd former WBF world junior middleweight champion Tommy Small, in round seven. Barr dropped Small in round one with a short right hand and completely dominated the bout until its conclusion. It was the first pay-per-view live boxing event ever televised in the Bahamas.
Freeman captured the NABO middleweight title on June 2, 1998, by defeating Lee Fortune. Fortune was the former WBC Intercontinental champion. Freeman scored a knockdown in round eight with a body shot, and pitched a shutout on the scorecards after twelve rounds. He successfully defended this title on September 15, 1998 by stopping Scotty "The Body" Smith who was unable to answer the bell for round eight. Barr displayed a great jab and a viscious body attack.
After an unsuccessfull attempt at winning the WBO World Title against Bert Schenck, Barr was out of action for one full year. He had seven months of serious eye infections, caused by a substance that got into his eyes during that fight. He still trained regularly, and after a few fights fell out, he was offered an opportunity to fight for the NABO 168 lbs. title. Despite no tuneups, moving up in weight, and injuring his hand in the first and third rounds, he captured this title with a unanimous decision of 120-107 on all score cards.
After six months of rehabilitation on his hand, Freeman had a mandatory defense of his NABO Super Middleweight title against undefeated, (16-0)Ricky Ramirez. The bout took place in Punta Gorda, Florida, on November 21, 2000. Freeman was very impressive, destroying Ramirez in round three, after dropping him for an eight count in the second round. Next,he took on the hard punching Roni Martinez, 19-3, with 15 K.O.'s. Once again, Freeman was very impressive, ending matters in 35 seconds of round 4, in a bout televised by Direct TV. Unsuccessfull in landing his "mandatory" title shot at Champion Joe Calzaghe, Freeman stopped Michael Coker in the sixth round on the pay-per-view undercard of Christy Martin vs. Mia St. John, December 6, 2002, at the Pontiac Silverdome, in Michigan. He followed with an impressive sixth round tko of Danny Thornton on an HBO Latino Oscar De La Hoya promotion at the Level Nightclub, in Miami, on March 6, 2003. Freeman Barr was formally ranked as the #1 super middleweight in the WBO world rankings for twenty five months, and was top ten ranked in the other organizations as well. He is now campaigning as a light heavy weight. Currently, his record is 28-4 with 15 K.O.'s. Freeman is a slick boxing, hard punching fighter, with a great chin. He is thirty six years old, is managed and trained by Steve Canton.
One month after winning the IBO title, Barr, who had relocated to Naples, Fla. four years earlier, and his trainer-manager, Steven J. Canton of SJC Professional Boxing, Inc., were invited back to the islands for a celebration. "We didn"t expect much," says Canton. "We actually went back reluctantly, because we were giving up a few days of training, and he was giving up a few days from his job.
"Well, when we got to the airport, there were actually three marching bands waiting for us. There was a limousine with the prime minister of the islands, and we rode around in a motorcade for two hours....When we'd come to a group of kids on the side of the road, the motorcade would stop, Freeman would get out, he would sign autographs, and they'd take pictures. It was two hours like that, all over the islands."
Barr, who had only nine amateur bouts, is now 17-1 with seven kayoes since turning professional in 1993. That he comes from a boxing family has not hindered his progress. Three of his cousins--Ernie (The Androsian Tiger) Barr, Sammy (Kid) Barr, and Richard Barr--were all respected pros in the 1970s. "All of my boxing family, they all think highly of me," says Barr. "They encourage me and want me to continue what I'm doing."
Not that what he is doing is easy. An electrician's apprentice by day, Barr does his road work at 4:30 a.m., drives an hour to work, and toils for eight hours under the punishing Florida sun. All this before training at the SJC Boxing Gym in Fort Myers, Fla. with Canton at night. Couple his workload with the fact he has already gone twelve rounds on seven occasions, and one wonders if Barr will be weakened by the draining schedule. Not likely, say Steve Canton and co-trainer Carmen Richards.
"I've been around this business for forty years, and he's the best prospect I've seen," says Canton. "I've been around Tommy Hearns when he turned pro; I've been around Aaron Pryor as an amateur and pro; but Freeman Barr is the best prospect I've ever seen." "Freeman is developing into a complete fighter, "says Richards. "His capacity and desire to learn are unparalleled." But perhaps a more objective viewpoint is in order.
"You'd have to say that this kid has a helluva potential," says boxing historian Hank Kaplan, who has seen Barr from ringside on several occasions. "Right now, the way I feel about it is that he could go with many of the prominent middleweights in the world..."
Following a successful defense against Tommy Small in January, Barr relinquished the IBO throne to face Southern circuit toughie Lee Fortune for the North American Boxing Organization belt--a steppingstone to the more prestigious World Boxing Organization title--in June. Barr beat Fortune handily, winning the NABO title, as well as a possible date with WBO middleweight champion Otis Grant, on scores of 120-107 (twice) and 119-108.
"I've been watching Otis Grant," says Barr. "I know he's a difficult fighter, being a southpaw, but I've sparred with Hector Camacho, and if I can dominate a good southpaw like Camacho, I think I can do well with Otis Grant."