Luis Collazo Profile
Former World Boxing Association Welterweight Champion. Born on April 22, 1981, in Brooklyn, New York. Height: 5’ 9” Weight: Welterweight (147). Record: 27-3 (13 KOs). World Boxing Association welterweight champion Luis Collazo believes he is a true opportunist. To prove it, the then-23-year old didn’t flinch when offered the opportunity to fight for his first world championship on just two weeks notice when then-WBA champion Jose Antonio Rivera’s pneumonia-stricken No. 1-ranked mandatory challenger Thomas Damgaard pulled out.
“Opportunities like that don’t come along very often in boxing,” Collazo said. “That’s why it’s important to always be ready if that call does come.“
To make matters worse for Collazo, the April 2, 2005, match was scheduled in Rivera’s hometown of Worcester, Mass. Regardless of the circumstances, Collazo’s decision to take the fight proved to be a wise move.
He went toe to toe with the champion for the full 12 rounds in what turned out to be a seesaw battle of wills. In the end, it was the challenger Collazo who answered every flurry and gave more than he took. His preparedness paid off with a split-decision win. All three judges scored the fight 115-113—two of whom had it for Collazo (the judge who scored the fight for Rivera happened to be from Worcester).
The new champion is a stylish southpaw who was introduced to boxing by his father, Fernando, an avid fan of the sweet science as most Puerto Ricans are. Luis started boxing at the age of 12 at Starrett City Boxing Club in Brooklyn, N.Y. He went on to win the 147-pound novice division in the prestigious New York Golden Gloves at age 16 and added the open title two years later fighting against grown men. This open title win gave Luis the tag of “child prodigy” in New York.
Luis qualified to compete in the U.S. Olympic Trials (known as box-offs) in Tampa, Fla., and he finished among the top five in his class (Dante Craig was the U.S. Olympian at 147 pounds.) The only thing that stopped Luis was a medical disqualification for a swollen thumb that stopped from advancing further.
After posting a 97-7 amateur record, Collazo turned pro on May 16, 2000, with a first-round technical knockout over Jose Maldonado. Fighting mainly within the New York City metropolitan area, Luis reeled off 12 victories in a row to set the stage for his first high-profile fight on Aug. 4, 2001 on SHOWTIME’s ShoBox boxing series. After losing the first two rounds to Luis Alberto Santiago (7-1), Luis adjusted and took all the remaining frames to win an eight-round unanimous decision (78-74, 78-74, 78-75).
He followed-up with a fourth-round TKO over Orlando Milian (14-4) and found himself back on ShoBox at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas on April 13, 2002. In his first 10-round match, Collazo suffered his first loss to as a pro to Edwin Cassiani (23-3). Cassiani scored with a four-punch combination in the third round, which clearly gained Collazo’s attention. What Collazo did not expect was for referee Jay Nady to step in and wave off the action.
“Cassiani definitely landed some punches in the third round but I didn’t go down,” Collazo said. “As a matter of fact, I wasn’t even staggered. To this day, I can’t figure out why Nady felt like he had to stop that fight.”
Luis rebounded with seven straight wins. He was then matched against highly touted Puerto Rican islander Felix Flores (19-3). Collazo floored Flores twice, once in the second and again in the fifth, and easily took a unanimous 10-round decision (100-89, 97-90, 97-92).
After making the most of his first title shot against Rivera, Collazo was asked to face a ring legend in former longtime lightweight world champion Miguel Angel Gonzalez at Chicago’s United Center on Aug. 13, 2005.
“I was the world champion but I had never faced a legendary former champion in the ring,” Collazo said. “When I knocked him out in the eighth round I felt like I had truly arrived and that a new star was born that night.”
Fate intervened when English sensation Ricky “The Hitman” Hatton, fresh off his destruction of 140-pound kingpin Kostya Tszyu that had earned him 2005 Fighter of the Year honors, wanted to move up to 147 pounds. Collazo took the challenge, and Hatton came across the pond for the first time in six years to make the fight.
When the fight was announced at Boston’s TD BankNorth Garden, Collazo stepped to the microphone and defiantly said, “You picked the wrong guy, Ricky. I’m a slick southpaw. Styles make fights. I’m the exact wrong style for Hatton. “They’re looking past me.
“In Brooklyn they call me The Showstopper because I steal other people’s shows. He’s one of the best at 140 pounds, now he’s moving up to 147. You [the media] don’t know me. Don’t be fooled by my innocent face. I’m a different guy in the ring. He likes to come. I like to come, too. I can go either way. If he wants to box, I can box. If he wants to bang, we’ll bang. It’s going to be a great fight.”
The fight took place on May 13, 2006, with Collazo’s WBA title on the line. Ten seconds into the fight Hatton threw a left hand that pushed over an off-balance and retreating Collazo, scoring the only knockdown of the fight. The punch didn’t hurt Collazo, but the 10-8-scored round did.
The ever-punching Hatton continued to pressure, but Collazo maintained his composure. After a slow start, Collazo won on all three judges’ scorecards in round five and six as his counterpunches and jab began to land effectively.
Collazo won on all three scorecards in the 10th round, and it was either fighter’s match to win going into the championship rounds. Hatton rebounded in the 11th round, but Collazo unleashed a devastating eight-punch combination one minute into the final round and followed it up with two pulverizing left hands. Hatton, miraculously, stayed on his feet and survived the round.
When ring announcer Michael Buffer read the results, Hatton was named the winner of a unanimous decision with one judge at 114-113 and two judges at 115-112. At the post-fight press conference, a bruised and battered Hit Man admitted the American had given him the toughest fight of his life. Collazo called for a re-match.
“Ricky and Team Hatton were great sportsmen before and after our fight on Saturday,” Collazo said from his home in Brooklyn the day after the fight. “I take Ricky as man of his word. He said I gave him his toughest fight ever. He admitted that I hurt him on several occasions. He said he knew the fight was close. He also said he would give me a re-match. Now he needs to make good on that promise.
“In the spirit of good sportsmanship, I think it would be only right for our second fight to take place on his home turf in Manchester. I would be honored to accept his invitation for an immediate re-match in England.”
The sportsmanship between England and America was not limited to the ring combatants. Many of the visiting British journalists polled after the disputed decision honestly admitted they believed Collazo had defeated their countryman.
While the polling among all journalists showed mixed results, it was clear that more than half had Collazo winning the fight. Two highly respected American journalists scored Collazo the winner by a four-point margin of 116-112. Of those who had Hatton as the winner, none had him by more than a single point. Only one of the four officials assigned to work the fight by the Massachusetts Boxing Commission had significant world championship experience.
Byron Ogelsby, Collazo’s assistant trainer, may have summed it up best with his comments at the post-fight press conference.
“Ricky Hatton was exposed tonight,” Ogelsby said. “Until he redeems himself in a re-match with Luis Collazo, he has no business talking about fights with Floyd Mayweather Jr. or any of the others [welterweight elites].”
Hatton seemed to take Ogelsby’s advice when promptly vacated the WBA welterweight championship and moved back to super lightweight.
Collazo stayed fresh by stepping back into the ring against Artur Atadzhanov at Chase Field in Phoenix on Nov. 4, 2006, scoring a sixth-round technical knockout.
“Believe it or not, I was nervous when I came into the ring tonight but it was the kind of butterflies any good athlete gets just prior to competing,” Collazo said. “I never take any opponent lightly.”
Collazo’s patience and persistence paid off when ring legend “Sugar” Shane Mosley decided to move back to welterweight to meet him on Feb. 10, 2007, at Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.
Fans and boxing buffs expected a good fight. Collazo performed well early—particularly in the second round when he nailed Mosley with a right-hand counter—indicating Sugar Shane might be having trouble with the southpaw.
What nobody except Collazo would know until after the fight is that he tore three ligaments in his left hand and fractured his thumb in the third round.
Collazo courageously fought on and finished the match—and even rallied in the sixth round when he landed a straight left hand and jab that snapped Mosley’s head back. But in the end, Louis was unable to muster the firepower needed to be competitive when essentially fighting with just one hand. Mosley won a unanimous decision by scores 118-109, twice, and the third judge had it 116-111.
“I hurt my left hand in the third round and I wasn’t able to fight the way I wanted to after that,” Collazo said after the fight. “I wish I could have been more effective. I hurt my hand in training camp. I did the best I could. Shane came to fight. He did his job tonight.”
Mosley was complimentary of his foe.
“Collazo was slick and he takes a pretty good punch,” Mosley said. “He fought a good fight and I know he’ll be back. The southpaw style affected me a little but I knew what to do.”
Collazo underwent surgery to repair his left hand on Feb. 22, 2006, at New York Downtown Hospital. Noted surgeon Dr. Nelson Botwinick, who is often the physician of choice for many of the New York Yankees, performed the surgery.
Other boxing greats like Felix “Tito” Trinidad, Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whitaker, Edwin Rosario and Marvelous Marvin Hagler have been major influences on Collazo.
Outside the ring, Collazo is a genuinely nice person with an infectious smile.
He has a daughter, 3-year-old Khaylah. He is managed and trained by Nirmal Lorrick. Assitant trainers are Byron Ogelsby and Gary Stark.