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"One-Time" is no one-hit wonder


By Jason Gonzalez

Tampa, FL-- Keith Thurman’s homecoming was a huge success. Thurman, who is regarded by many as the heir to throne once Floyd Mayweather retires, had to dig deep in order to overcome adversity halfway into his scrap with former world champion Luis Collazo. The Brooklyn southpaw, nearly upended Thurman, via a vicious body assault that nearly prompted the champion to take a knee. But besides looking shaky in the 5th round, Thurman dominated the fight en route to an impressive victory, all while retaining his WBA "regular" welterweight championship in the process.


A crowd of 4,136 witnessed Collazo quit in his corner, just a second into the start of the 8th round, during the inaugural debut of the Premier Boxing Champions series on ESPN, which was held at the Sun Dome on the campus of the University of South Florida. Collazo sustained a severe cut over his right eye, as a result of a punch during the 7th round. According to Collazo, the laceration affected Collazo’s vision, due to the blood flooding his optic.

Following the victory, the 26-year-old Thurman called out the pound-for-pound king during his post-fight interview. Mayweather, boxing’s top earner, has yet to announce who his dance partner will be, for what many believe to be his curtain call, come September.


"I’m a young, strong champion, Floyd. Come get it," Thurman said, now 26-0, (22). "I’m undefeated like you, baby. Come take my 0 baby! Come take my 0! I’m ready. I’m ready."


Thurman, 147.2, opened up the contest aggressively, while Collazo cautiously assessed his rival. But as the younger and stronger Thurman got into a rhythm, he soon found a home for his lead right hand on Collazo’s face and head. The heavy handed Thurman forced Collazo to backpedal.


Collazo, who was already sporting a welt under his left eye, came to life in the third round. Up until this point, Collazo’s offense was virtually non-existent. One can assume that he knew that he was down on the scorecards. The 34-year-old Brooklyn native began to walk down Thurman and back him up. The southpaw began to tag and dig Thurman with left hooks to the body.


Thurman would consistently open up every round strong. It was as if Collazo was a tree, and Thurman was simply chopping away, but doing so patiently.  But late in the 5th round, Collazo visibly hurt Thurman with a left hand to the body that nearly prompted Thurman to take a knee, so that he could catch his wind.


“He caught me with a left hook uppercut hybrid shot in the fifth and knocked out almost all of my wind,” Thurman said. “It was an excellent shot by Luis [Collazo]. I endured like a champion though. We kept going. We kept digging him with shots, giving a little bit of power each round, and we broke him down."


It had appeared that Collazo was going to drop Thurman, however he began celebrating prematurely in regards to hurting him, ultimately running out of time before doing so.


"I was trying to set him up for the left hand with him going to my left, and he was wide open," Collazo said. "So I caught him with the liver shot. I think if I would have had a little more time, I probably could have knocked him down."


Collazo, 147, now 36-7, (19), pressed the action by chasing the retreating Thurman in the 7th round. A Thurman counter right hand opened a bad cut over Collazo’s right eye, leaving him leaking (blood) the same way a bad faucet does.


"I guess in the [seventh] round he caught me with another clean shot and the blood just kept going in my eyes," Collazo said in regards to not coming out for the 8th round. "I couldn’t see nothing. I’m the type of fighter who just keeps going if I could. I couldn’t see, so I’m better safe than sorry."


In the co-feature bout of the evening, junior middleweight Tony Harrison, of  Detroit, Michigan  hit a major stumbling block in his career. Harrison, 153.8, a protégé of the late, great trainer Emanuel Steward, suffered his first loss as a professional. His opponent Willie Nelson pulled out a miraculous knockout, out of nowhere, via a right hook in the 9th round of a “stinker”, a snoozer in which Harrison was well ahead on points on two scorecards (87-83, 86-84).

The 24-year-old Harrison, now 21-1, (18), was stepping up in competition against Nelson who is managed by Frank Gore (Indianapolis Colts running back). Nelson, 154.6, of Cleveland, Ohio improved his ledger to 24-2-1, (14). The stoppage came at the 2:27mark of the same round, when Harrison got up at the count of 8, but faced the wrong corner.

"I just really took my time and was being patient," Nelson said. "I still have a lot to work to do on letting my hands go. I let him get punches off that I shouldn’t have let him. I was walking around and I should have had my hands up. The plan was to take him into deep waters so that’s why I was relaxing. I got the job done with two right hands. I listened to my coach who said go down and fake down and throw a right hand on top. And he buckled a little bit with another right hand.

It says a lot that Harrison lost the same time he stepped up in opposition.

"I let the anxiety get to me," Harrison said. "I just felt the anxiousness to knock him out. I went in reckless and got caught. I felt I was winning the whole fight with my game plan and I just switched it up. I just felt that I had to give Detroit something to look at. I let my city down tonight. He was a guy that I shouldn’t have lost to. The shot was behind the head but no excuses. I got up and the ref did what he had to do."

As for Nelson, the future seems bright, there is a long list of opponents that present big paydays.

"I want one of the world champs. Any of them will do," Nelson said. "I want to save the best one for last, Demetrius Andrade. That’s my boy but we cool. You know, I could save him for last. I want ’K9’ [Cornelius Bundrage], [Erislandy] Lara, whoever have a title. That’s who I want. Since everyone is jumping on the Floyd Mayweather bandwagon, give me him too."

Antonio Tarver’s son, junior middleweight Antonio Tarver, Jr., 155.2, of Orlando, Florida improved to  3-0, (2), after dominating Oscar Gonzalez, 153, 9-12-1, (3) of Tampa, Florida over 4 rounds. Scores were 40-36 across the board.

Antonio Russell, 117.8, 3-0, (2), of Washington, D.C easily outpointed journeyman Jaxel Marrero, 119, 1-6-1, of San Juan , Puerto Rico, over the course of 4 rounds. All three judges saw it the same at 40-36 for Russell. Antonio is the younger brother of featherweight titlist Gary, Jr.

Junior middleweight Bruno Bredicean, 148.2, of Cape Coral, Florida, had a successful pro debut by shutting out Randy Hedderick, 148.2, of Gulfport, Mississippi, on all three scorecards by scores of 40-36.

Patryk Syzmanski, 155.6, of Konin, Poland, added to his win total, now 14-0, (9) after he stopped Maurice Louishomme, 154.6, of Colorado Springs, Colorado within 1 round. With the loss Louishomme fell to 8-3, (4).

Junior welterweight Anthony Peterson, 138, of Memphis, Tennessee stopped Ramesis Gill, 137.4, of San Juan, Puerto Rico in the 6th round of their swing bout. Peterson improved to 35-1, (23), while Gill dropped to 8-12-5, (5).

In the battle of Central America, welterweight Walter Castillo, 143.6, of Managua, Nicaragua, now 26-3, (19) kayoed Ammeth Diaz, 143.8, 32-12, (23) of Panama City, Panama in the third frame of their contest.

Bahamian lightweight Edner Cherry scored an impressive 9th round knockout over Luis Cruz, of Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, improving his resume to 34-6-2.


Cherry, who now resides in nearby Wauchula, made his return to the Tampa area worthwhile to all of his supporters in attendance. Cruz, 21-5-0, (16), 132.8, ate a lot of leather early on. Cherry imposed his strength early on. From the third round, and on Cherry would back up Cruz on numerous occasions throughout the contest.


There were some roughhouse tactics that were being utilized by Cruz. He head-butted, tie-up, and hit Cherry below the belt. But as the crowd grew frustrated, so did Cherry.


He then stepped on the gas pedal, landing a straight right hand on the face of Cruz, dropping him in the ninth. Cruz would rise from the knockdown, but only to absorb more punishment. Cherry closed the casket on Cruz at the 2:13 mark of the ninth round, via a straight right hand.

In the opening bout of the evening, junior middleweight Manny Woods, 154.8, of nearby St. Petersburg was upended by journeyman Carlos Garcia, 153.8, of Aguada, Puerto Rico.


Woods, now 13-4-1, dropped a 6 round majority decision to Garcia by scores of 58-56 (twice) and 58-58. After a few nondescript rounds, Garcia managed to land a solid right hand on the temple of Woods. Although Garcia may have failed in cutting Wood’s night short, he did however, seize control head of the fight from that point on.


Woods tried to work his way back into the fight, but it was too little, too late, well at least in the eyes of the judges. Garcia, who improved to 8-14-1, (7) didn’t do anything of significance thereafter, while Woods tried to finish strong.


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