To understand where Luis Collazo (35-5 18 KO’s) is going Saturday night, you have to understand where Luis Collazo has been. Think Jay-Z’s version of a “Hard Knock Life”. At an early age, Collazo’s parents divorced which left the family in turmoil. Collazo ended up finding solace in the streets of Brooklyn. As Collazo recalls “My dad was drunk all the time, my older brother was in the drug game, and he was someone I looked up to. So I followed him into it. He was my role model” “I didn’t really have much growing up. I was selling drugs at nine, smoking marijuana at ten. I was headed nowhere, with no future ahead of me” “Without boxing, I would have gone to prison, no question,”
Collazo’s father sorted out his own life and reunited with his son. It was at this time that Luis started to learn the sweet science. As an amateur, he compiled a 97-7 record. To begin his pro career, Collazo won his first 14 fights and then in fight #15 he was KO’d the only time in his career. After the loss, he won several more fights before fighting for the WBA Welterweight Title which he won with a split decision over Jose Antonio Rivera. He had one title defense before facing Ricky Hatton. Although close, Hatton was awarded a unanimous decision. Several months later he faced Shane Mosley for the WBC Welterweight Title. Again, Collazo lost a decision.
Flash forward to 2009. Collazo again is provided an opportunity for the WBC Title, this time against Andre Berto. If you are following the script here, you know what happens next….correct, Collazo losses by unanimous decision. Following this fight, Collazo battled depression and was at a crossroads in his life. Blessed with a daughter and loving wife, Collazo found religion which changed his life. As Collazo stated recently, “Now that I am living a spiritual life, I’m a different person. Yes I’m older, but spiritually I feel like I’m 22. We are supposed to go through trials and tribulations. That is what shapes our personality.” Since the Berto fight, Collazo has won his last four and 6 out of his last 7.
He comes into this fight riding the momentum of a 2nd round KO over Victor Ortiz this past January. What can we really make of the KO win against Ortiz? Ortiz was, after all, coming off a loss in which he broke his jaw, had not fought in just over a year and a half, was KO’d by Floyd Mayweather in the fight before that, and although he looked decent against Andre Berto and won a unanimous decision, he was knocked down twice in that fight. While Collazo’s KO was a beautiful text book short right hook, it was Ortiz, a fighter whose recent history had shown signs of decline and a questionable mindset.
Saturday night’s opponent is Amir “King” Khan (28-3 19 KO’s), a fighter who is at a crossroads in his own right. Khan has extra motivation for this fight as he had thought he would be the one facing Mayweather on this card only to see Mayweather sign to fight Marcos Maidana. Collazo is well aware of this as he stated “At this point in my career it [the talk] doesn’t matter. I’m just grateful to be in this situation right now. They can keep talking about Amir Khan and Floyd Mayweather. That doesn’t matter to me,” “I know on May 3 when that bell rings it’s just me and Amir. And whatever plans he has with Floyd or whatever he’s planning, he has to answer to me first.”
This will be Khan’s first fight at 147; said Khan “I was killing myself making the weight, so here we are now. People say that I’m looking past Luis Collazo and looking at a Mayweather fight or other opponents but I’m not looking past this fight because this is a big fight for me. But if I lose this fight, I can forget about the $12 million. So I have to win this fight against Luis Collazo. Luis brings a lot to the table.” Collazo well aware of Khan’s move up to his division countered “I’ve got to break him down first because you can’t be like a kangaroo running all over the place. Amir Khan has never fought at 147 pounds but, hey, I’m going to welcome him into the division.”
The question is which Khan will show up? Will we get the Khan with fast hands and slick movement as he did in the first few rounds with Danny Garcia or the Khan who wants to bang a bit more as he did in the next few rounds against Garcia which led to his demise. A fighter who believes Khan can win an easy fight is the aforementioned Hatton, said Hatton, who called Collazo “one of my toughest fights”. “Amir can get a hands-down decision and look a million dollars against Collazo, who is made for him” “Collazo wasn’t the most difficult to hit and I remember him being flat-footed. But Amir’s got to be disciplined in this performance. Just like when he won the world title against Andreas Kotelnik with his boxing skills. If he does that, it’s a comfortable fight. If he doesn’t, and starts getting involved in a battle, I think he’ll come second.”
There is not a physical advantage for either fighter as they are just about identical in both height and reach; however, making for an interesting subplot is the fact that Collazo is a southpaw and Khan an orthodox fighter.
Collazo understands what he must do as he stated recently “This fight is my whole career, right in front of me, I believe if I beat Amir Khan, I have a bigger future in boxing and if I don’t I have to start from the bottom again” “I’m humbled by all this. How people counted me out, even before the Victor Ortiz fight. But that’s okay. I’ve always been underrated, my whole career. I’ve become accustomed to it.”
Luis Collazo has had big fights before and has come out on the short end of the decision. He once again is provided with a golden opportunity, this time, on the biggest showcase in boxing, a Mayweather Pay Per View card. The time is now for Collazo. If he can finally get the career defining win that has eluded him, he will upset the King Khan plan and possibly line himself up for the Holy Grail of matchups, a fight with Mayweather. One thing’s for sure, for the first time in his career, Collazo is in a good place in his life both mentally and spiritually as he enters into a big fight and that alone may be all he needs.