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Collazo: “All of the pressure is on Khan”

(Photo © Esther Lin / SHOWTIME)
(Photo © Esther Lin / SHOWTIME)


The God Emcee, Rakim, was once quoted as saying, “It ain’t where you’re from; it’s where you’re at.” And as it relates to Luis Collazo, of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, it truly epitomizes the career of the former WBA welterweight champion perfectly. As Collazo approaches his 14th year as a professional, the 33-year-old, who sports a decent ledger of 35-5 (18), can smile in retrospect when he says, “Everything happens for a reason.”
 
That said, it wasn’t long ago when Collazo faced his toughest opposition to date. Between the periods of 2009-2011, Collazo saw very little action in the ring and when he did, he was forced to fight on the non-televised portion of a pay-per-view card or premium channel network, all of which was compounded by personal issues. Collazo battled booze and depression, a lethal combination that has wiped out many. However, Collazo stood the test of time. Fast forward to the present and it’s clear to see Collazo is in a great place professionally as well as in his personal life.

“I give all glory to God,” said Collazo, who acknowledges that the spiritual component was once absent from his life. “The Holy Spirit is in me.”
 
Collazo will do battle in the co-feature bout of the evening against Britain’s own Amir Khan. Obviously, fans tuning in to tonight’s Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast are checking to see the pound-for-pound champ Mr. Floyd Mayweather. Typically, when people watch Mayweather fight, the hope is to see him lose. In what marks Mayweather’s first outing in 2014 (his third fight under the Showtime banner), he is paired against the king of all underdogs, Marcos Maidana of Argentina. And with all due respect to Maidana, we already know how this one plays out. Mayweather will improve to 46-0.
 
It’s not that Maidana isn’t good; it’s that stylistically, he is the quintessential opponent Mayweather easily picks apart and systematically breaks down. Therefore, Collazo has an opportunity of a lifetime to steal the show from the headliner.
 
“I am ready,” says Collazo in regard to being the main attraction everyone will be talking about afterward. “This is what I do. I will match Amir Khan’s intensity and one-up him. I am going to be smart in there. I am going to use my experience and at the end of the day, I am going to have fun. You are going to see my intelligence, my ring I.Q. I can’t wait to prove the critics wrong. I am going to show these cats I am not washed up.”
 
Just three months ago, Collazo did just that. He left everyone in downtown Brooklyn in shock and awe after flooring former welterweight champion Victor Ortiz in the second frame with a murderous right hook. The devastating blow left Ortiz on Atlantic Avenue unable to beat the 10-count. That performance along with his post-fight name\opponent calling-out portion of his interview (specifically Mayweather) got him to where he is now.
 
If you remember, Khan was the frontrunner for the Mayweather sweepstakes. However, going 2-2 in his last four fights, combined with losing a poll in which fans voted to see who Mayweather should fight next resulted in Khan losing his spot to dance with Mayweather. Then there were rumblings about Khan fighting Adrien Broner (who returns for the first time tonight since losing to Maidana against Carlos Molina.) but that fell through. There were discussions of a Khan fight with Robert Guerrero but for whatever reason, the bout never materialized. So how did this great scrap between Collazo and Khan come about?
 
“The Amir Khan-Guerrero fight didn’t happen,” confirmed the Puerto Rican southpaw, “and as you can see, neither did the Floyd fight. The fans felt [Khan] didn’t deserve it because he didn’t earn it. But we are both Al Haymon fighters; my team spoke with him and we all agreed on the terms and made it happen. I am very grateful to [Khan] because of it.”

Okay, so we get that it is imperative to have a strong team plus having the backing of a heavy hitter like Haymon doesn’t hurt either. But as pundits break down this fight, who is at an advantage? Who is at a disadvantage? Is it Khan? Is it Collazo? Khan brings certain intangibles to the table. He is fast. Khan has quick hands, moves well in the ring, is six years younger than Collazo and seems somewhat bigger. But despite all this, to reiterate, Khan, 28-3 (19), has a .500 record in his last four fights. But the biggest question mark is Khan’s inactivity. He fought over a year ago and looked bad against a past-his-prime Julio Diaz at 142, not to mention Khan touched the canvas in the skirmish. You would also be remiss to not mention Khan’s chin issues. He has been knocked out twice.
 
“What you said may be true but I have fought big guys before and he is not the biggest guy I have fought or will fight,” Collazo assessed. “[Khan] is absolutely not the biggest. Shane [Mosley] was bigger and stronger; Andre Berto was bigger than Khan too. Andre Berto may be shorter than Amir Khan but check out Andre Berto’s frame and then come talk to me. You have to remember, Khan is moving up from 140 pounds. That’s a seven-pound difference. We are going to see how he reacts to the punches. Also, there is the possibility that by moving up in weight, his chin could get better.”
 
There is some validity to what Collazo is saying but then again, this is boxing, the theater of the unexpected. Therefore, nothing is guaranteed. However, it would be a safe bet to assume that if Khan beats Collazo, he is the next in line to stand across the ring from Mayweather in September. Could it be that Khan is overlooking Collazo because he has his sights on Mayweather? Inquiring minds want to know.
 
“I think so,” Collazo told Maxboxing. “He has something to prove. Not me. I am good. I am relaxed. I am ready. All of the pressure is on him. Come Saturday night, I have a job to do. That’s to go out there, give the fans a great fight and come out with the “W.” I truly believe that he is focused on Floyd [Mayweather] but it doesn’t matter. He is fighting me, May 3rd.”
 
There is a lot at stake for both fighters. If Khan loses, it could very well spell the end of fighting at an elite level. As for Collazo, a victory may not necessarily mean a date with Mayweather; however, lucrative paydays such as a contest with Keith Thurman or Guerrero are looming. But it is incumbent upon Collazo to seize the moment in order to capture everything he’s ever wanted.
 
One quick footnote, after Collazo defeated Alan Sanchez in San Antonio, Texas last year, he exclusively confirmed to Maxboxing that both Thurman and Guerrero turned down fights with him.
 
Jason Gonzalez can be reached at jg51593n@pace.edu.
 
 

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