Former welterweight world champion talks about his Knockout of the Year candidate against Sammy Vasquez Jr., who he wants to fight next and the significance of all his tattoos.
Luis “God’s Way” Collazo has endured a tumultuous career, but the former welterweight world champion has always overcome the obstacles.
The Brooklyn, New York native’s assortment of tattoos illustrate his journey, including the Virgin Mary on his chest, “NYC” across his stomach, Jesus on his right shoulder, a wizard on his left, tombstones and cherubs on his arms, and dragon wings and hands in prayer on other body parts.
Coming off surgery on his left arm in August, Collazo is ready to get back into the mix at 147 pounds.
Collazo’s last fight in February epitomized his sojourn, a come-from-behind KO victory over once-beaten Sammy Vasquez Jr. in a Knockout of the Year candidate.
When do you expect to return to action?
I’m hoping that will happen at the beginning of next year, maybe in March. I’m hoping that it’s Danny Garcia. I’m always training, but I had surgery in August.
I had torn my biceps tendon in my left arm and had been doing therapy to recover, but I’ve gotten the green light from the doctor to fight again.
Garcia is Puerto Rican and I’m Puerto Rican. I think it would be a great fight to happen at Barclays Center in New York. Danny’s coming off of a loss and I’m coming off of a win. Why not stop trying to take an easy fight? I want Danny Garcia.
If you’re a top guy, you should fight a top guy. If not, I don’t respect you. Being that I’m from Brooklyn and he’s from Philadelphia, we could sell out Barclays Center in a couple of days. Win or lose the two of us will give the fight fans what they want.
How intriguing is a fight with Spence having seven knockouts in your past 10 wins—with five coming against southpaws?
I would absolutely be ready if Spence is presented and it makes sense. I’ve never ducked anyone and never will. That would be another great fight for Barclays, where he stopped Chris Algieri his last time there and where he’s fighting Lamont Peterson [January 20.]
People love Spence in Brooklyn, but I’ve noticed in the most recent training camps that I’ve been performing better and getting stronger against lefties. The two times I fought southpaws, I was supposed to get stopped or to lose and I ended up knocking out Ortiz and Vasquez.
Is there anyone else you’d be interested in?
I’ve called out Shawn Porter, who is a top guy. That would be an awesome fight, too, because of our aggressive styles. I just want to fight any of the top guys before I go out.
How critical was your manner of victory over Vasquez at this stage of your career?
Well, at the time, it was huge. But since then, people have been like, “Who was Sammy Vasquez?” It’s tough when you fight an up-and-comer, because when you beat them, you don’t get credit. But if they beat you, they’ve beaten a good guy. That’s why I want to fight the top guys in division.
Prior to fighting Vasquez, I was a 5-to-1 underdog. I was supposed to fight him earlier, but I hurt my calf muscle and Vasquez ended up losing his first fight to Felix Diaz, my substitute. Second time, I was offered two names—Vasquez and Devon Alexander.
We picked Alexander because he had a bigger name, but Devon didn’t take the fight. So the next option was Vasquez, and I think he believed I pulled out the first time because I was afraid. But it was the injury. Anyway, my back was against the wall and that was a fight I had to win by an amazing knockout.
Since then, though, I haven’t been really getting any calls for fights, and I think it’s because of how good I looked against Vasquez. Now, if Sammy had beaten me, I’m sure that I’d have gotten a bunch of calls. That’s funny because I’m the oldest of the bunch, supposedly washed up, but it’ still been quiet.
“ If you’re a top guy, you should fight a top guy. If not, I don’t respect you. Whatever happens, win or lose, I want to go out against a top guy. ” Former welterweight world champion Luis Collazo
Can you discuss your unanimous decision losses to Ricky Hatton (May 2006), Shane Mosley (February 2007) and Andre Berto (January 2009)?
To this day, people everywhere I go say I beat Ricky Hatton. I think I beat Ricky Hatton, dwelled on it for quite some time, but I’ve let it go. The Shane Mosley fight, I should have done better but I broke my thumb in the second round.
I sucked it up and kept fighting, hoping he would stand and bang with me. But Shane got on his bicycle and won by decision. Andre Berto was the undefeated champion. I threw over 1,200 punches in that fight. Just like Ricky Hatton, I think I beat Berto. I hear that everywhere I go.
What affects did the loss to Amir Khan have on your career?
I should never have taken the Khan fight. My team was horrible and there were few positives. I was 15 pounds overweight the Thursday prior to the fight.
I wasn’t there, mentally, and don’t remember much of the fight. Khan was sharp, but me at my best, I think it would have been a lot different.
What’s your favorite punch—the right hands that ended the Ortiz and Vaquez fights or the left that hurt Keith Thurman to the body?
I don’t favor one punch, but my thing is throwing combinations, which sets everything up. I’m not looking for a specific shot as much as what’s landing as we go through the fight. It’s all repetition and going with the flow.
When you see the opening for a punch materializing you go with that. Whatever lands clean is the best punch, and the ones that you don’t see—do the most damage. That’s what happened against Ortiz and Vasquez.
What’s the story with your tattoos?
I have so many tattoos, but there are three portraits that truly hit home for me. They’re on my left leg of my Mom, my Dad and my uncle. My parents are still living. My Dad’s in New York and my Mom lives in Puerto Rico. But my uncle was killed a few years ago, being hit by a car while riding his bike.
I also have one on my chest that asks The Lord to treat my daughter right. That’s another meaningful one because I got it done eight years before I got saved. I also have my daughter’s name, Kayla, on my right side on my ribs. Now, I’m serving The Lord, so you never know what God has planned for you.
Has the hurricane damage in Puerto Rico affected your Mom or other family members?
She’s doing fine, now, but for quite some time she had no lights or water. I was trying to send money but everything was closed down for like a month. There’s no way to understand what she endured. It was a horrible thing for her to go through.
Given you turn 37 in April, and that fighters like Robert Guerrero and Miguel Cotto retired after losses, and, Andre Ward and Jean Pascal, in victory, how long to you have left in this game?
Whatever happens, win or lose, I want to go out against a top guy.
To learn more about Luis Collazo, visit his fighter page.
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