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Terence Crawford vs. Luis Collazo in the works for March 23

Luis Collazo Terence Crawford

By Chris Williams: Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) could be defending his WBO welterweight title next against former WBA 147 lb champion Luis Collazo (38-7, 20 KOs) on March 23, according to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com.

Top Rank, the promoters for Crawford, are in negotiations to match Crawford against the 37-year-old Collazo on March 23 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

This would give Collazo a chance of getting a high visible fight against Crawford for his World Boxing Organization 147 lb title Although Collazo has won his last two fights since being knocked out by Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman in the 7th round in 2015, he’s not been active enough with his career. Collazo has fought just twice in the last three years in beating Sammy Vazquez and Bryant Perrella (15-2, 13 KOs). The ring rust clearly was showing in Collazo’s last fight against Perrella last August. Collazo barely beat Perrella by a 10 round majority decision. Parrella is the same guy that Yordenis Ugas destroyed in four rounds in 2016. Collazo was out of the ring for close to two years after his loss to Thurman in 2015. He didn’t return until 2017 due to a bicep injury he suffered in the Thurman fight.

Collazo isn’t promoted by Top Rank. He’s managed by Keith Connolly, and his adviser is Al Haymon of Premier Boxing Champions. It’s unclear what Haymon thinks of the idea of Collazo fighting Crawford. If Haymon is against the idea of Collazo fighting Crawford, then it’s possible it might not happen. It might come down to what Collazo’s manager Connolly thinks of the fight.

Crawford didn’t look great in either of his last two fights at welterweight, and it’s clear that he’s not the same fighter at 147 as he was at 140. Some of that is due to the weight that Crawford is now fighting at, but another big part is the opposition is better at 147. Let’s face it; Crawford was fighting weak opposition at 140 the entire time he was in that division. He never fought any of the good light welterweights like Regis Prograis, Jose Ramirez, Kiryl Relikh, Josh Taylor, Sergei Lipinets, Ivan Baranchyk, Anthony Yigit or Maurice Hooker.

Crawford left the 140 lb division just as it was starting to take off with massively talented fighters. Now that Crawford is 147 and fighting guys that can hit him back, he’s not looking special anymore. To make a long story short, Collazo has a chance of beating Crawford if he can put hands on him. Collazo has more than enough punching power to knockout Crawford, who looked shaky on a couple of occasions in his last fight against Jose Benavidez on October 13.

It was recently thought that Top Rank promoter Bob Arum would match Crawford, 31, against stable-mate Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17 KOs) for his next fight. It looks like Arum has other ideas. Kavaliauskas looked sensational this month in knocking out Roberto Arriaza in the 3rd round on November 16 on the undercard of the Maurice Hooker vs Alex Saucedo card at the Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The way that Kavaliauskas looked, it would be a shame if Arum matched him against Crawford right now without letting that fight marinate. Kavaliauskas looks like he’s got potential to be a major player in the welterweight division if he’s matched wisely. Arum could have two welterweight champions if he keeps Crawford and Kavaliauskas on different paths.

Collazo is capable of pulling off upsets from time to time. We saw that in Collazo’s 6th round knockout win over Sammy Vasquez in February 2017, and his 2nd round knockout victory over Vicious Victor Ortiz in January 2014. Ortiz’s management picked out Collazo obviously thinking he could beat him and resurrect his career, but things didn’t work out like they though. The southpaw Collazo caught Ortiz with a big shot in the 2nd round and knocked him out. The fight was over so quickly that the crowd was stunned into silence. They didn’t know what to think. One minute Ortiz is looking great, and the next he’s on the deck and unable to get back to his feet to resume fighting.

Collazo has been unpredictable fighter throughout his career. Sometimes he can look outstanding like he did against Andre Berto, Ricky Hatton and Victor Ortiz, but then he’ll turn around and look horrible in fights against Amir Khan and Freddy Hernandez. Khan totally dominated Collazo in beating him by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision in 2014. Collazo was arguably robbed against Berto and Hatton. Those were fights that he should have won, but he was the B-side facing a more popular that he was supposed to lose to. That’s how boxing goes though. The A-side fighters frequently win fights no matter what happens. As long as they can go the distance, you often see the A-side guy getting the nod by the judges. Collazo will likely be looking to knockout Crawford on March 23. Collazo knows that he’s facing a champion, and it might not matter that the fight will be taking place in his own backyard in New York.

Top Rank’s decision to match Crawford up against Collazo is a way of increasing the Nebraska’s natives popularity in the New York area. Top Rank has mostly been having Crawford fight in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska and Las Vegas for the last few years. Occasionally, Crawford has fought in New York against Felix Diaz and Henry Lundy, but he’s not fought there enough to increase his popularity. Top Rank needs to do something drastic to try and build Crawford’s brand while they still can. He’s about to turn 32, and he’s not becoming the star that some boxing fans thought he would be when he first became a world champion in 2014 at lightweight. Crawford’s defensive fighting style, which involves a lot of switch hitting, movement and counter punching isn’t the cup of tea for a lot of boxing fans. They prefer come forward type of brawlers like Errol Spence Jr., Danny Garcia, Manny Pacquiao and Shawn Porter. Those four are arguably the most popular welterweights in the division today. That’s not a knock on Crawford, since he’s got a few fans in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, but he’s not popular the way those guys are. He doesn’t fight the right way, and his personality is a little too reserved and laid back.


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