The agony from Luis Collazo’s crippling left hand to the liver in the fifth round was unlike any Keith Thurman had experienced as a professional.
“It was a well-placed body shot. It caught me at the right time. There was weight behind it,” Thurman said of Collazo’s blow during their 147-pound title fight Saturday night. “I wasn’t prepared for it. Get hit in the head and you’re rocked, but get hit in the body, you feel the pain. I felt pain.
“One voice said, ‘You might want to take a knee.’ Another voice told me to rise up. That body shot took a lot out of me, but it didn’t take everything. I was able to stand against it, survive, endure and recover enough to fight on and perform in the next round.”
Keith Thurman survived the scare and found The Moment at the 49-second mark of the sixth round, when his own left hook aggravated a cut over Collazo’s right eye.
Referee Telis Assimenios ruled an accidental clash of heads caused the widening gash, but Thurman believes differently.
“I believe the cut was caused by that left hook. I mixed the left hook, the jab hook, the right hand and left hook. I knew if I kept getting those in, the cut’s probably going to get worse,” Thurman said. “I know what a head butt feels like, so I’m sure the cut was from a legal blow. Some jabs hit him on that side. There were times when rights crosses and straight rights reached that side of his face.”
Luis Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs) retired on his stool after the seventh, citing limited visibility from the grotesquely swollen, severely bleeding eye. The result was a technical knockout victory for Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida.
"I wanted Keith to get Collazo's respect in the sixth by moving, but also by planting his feet and punching with power," Thurman trainer Dan Birmingham said. "Keith was catching him with that left hook all night, some with speed, some with power. Sometimes, he would plant and let that hook go or check-hook while he was moving to halt Collazo's aggression."
The damaged eye, first caught by television cameras in the sixth round, was acknowledged shortly thereafter by Collazo wiping away blood with his right glove.
“There’s just a little redness, perhaps the start of a small cut that’s opening up,” ESPN ringside analyst Joe Tessitore said during the broadcast. “[Blood is] streaming down from the right eye of Luis Collazo as this round comes to an end.”
Collazo never stopped pursuing Thurman in the seventh, even as it became apparent that he lacked peripheral vision to track his opponent or see oncoming punches. Ultimately, it was too much to overcome.
“The fight was taking its toll and I was becoming more comfortable and more accurate,” Thurman said. “Luis Collazo was taking more damage in the seventh as I physically broke him down.”
For complete coverage of Thurman vs Collazo, including photos and a look at the judges' scorecards, visit our fight page.