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Collazo Scores Big Win at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center

By Bill Tibbs


“Big Apple” brawler Luis Collazo, 35-5 (18), scored a career-defining win Thursday night via second round knockout over Oxnard, California’s “Vicious” Victor Ortiz, 29-5-2 (22), once one of the welterweight division’s most popular attractions. Collazo worked off a strong jab and showed good ring movement, long his ring trademarks in battling some of the game’s best, to beat Ortiz. He set up the pinpoint counter hook that spelled the end for the night for Ortiz, who was returning to the ring after almost two years off while healing from a broken jaw.

Both southpaw fighters were looking to find their range and land the big shot in front of Collazo’s 8,500 faithful fans who showed up on a chilly New York night to root for their Brooklyn-born, Queens-based hero. After a spirited first round, both fighters seemed to take it up a notch in round two and the crowd was sensing that perhaps this fight wasn’t going to the cards. After Collazo threw a hard left, Ortiz countered with a wide shot that missed the mark, leaving his chin exposed for Collazo’s counter right hook that landed right on the button. As Ortiz stumbled into the ropes, Collazo threw a follow-up shot that was academic at that point. As Ortiz kneeled in front of referee Benjy Esteves Jr., the seconds ticked away and it looked like he simply wasn’t going to clear his head and beat the count. When Esteves reached the count of 10, Collazo dropped to his knees in celebration while the Barclays Center crowd erupted in celebration for the hometown hero they have long felt was its uncrowned “peoples” champion.
 
Despite the fact that Collazo has a world welterweight title to his credit from when he beat Jose Antonio Rivera back in 2005 for the World Boxing Association (WBA) strap, he seems more infamous for his ring defeats. Collazo lost the strap in his second title defense to Britain’s Ricky Hatton in a questionable unanimous decision. Hatton was looking to break stateside and it seemed Collazo was going to be the fall guy that night. Nothing short of a knockout was going to ensure he kept his title.
 
Two fights later, he lost in a World Boxing Council (WBC) interim title bid to Shane Mosley. Three fights later, he lost another questionable decision to then-undefeated champion Andre Berto in a WBC welterweight title attempt. Since then, Collazo went 5-1 heading into Thursday’s fight. While Collazo was long seen as a world-class fighter, he certainly was more than likely seen as the safest world-class opponent out there for a comebacking Ortiz, who had bigger plans lined up for 2014. But with the win, Collazo has now put himself right back into the 147-pound mix with a group including the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Marcos Maidana, Timothy Bradley and Floyd Mayweather Jr. among others.
 
For Ortiz, it is time to seriously rethink his career. He is now looking at three straight stoppage losses in a career that has seen him stopped four times. The fight was a major setback and it will be interesting to see where he goes from here. After the fight, Ortiz’s promoter, Oscar De la Hoya was even tweeting (despite Ortiz just being off almost two years) that Victor needed to take a long rest after initial tweets to “call it a day.”
 
For Collazo, 2014 looks like it could be a good one for the longtime contender. Perhaps after his career-best win, he can get the title shot that will put him back on the main stage. Despite the fact Floyd likes the bright lights of Vegas, it might be fun to see him debut on Broadway. And he has a more than willing and deserving dance partner in New York’s Collazo. As Collazo told commentator Paulie Malignaggi right after the fight, “I want what the fans want. I want Floyd here in New York. Bring Floyd here to New York. He stays in Vegas. I’m tired of going to Vegas. I would love for him to come in NYC, here in Brooklyn at the Barclays. Floyd, if you’re watching, let’s make it happen man!”
 
Questions and comments can be sent to Bill Tibbs at hwtibbs@shaw.ca.
 
 
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