Luis Collazo is 34 years old, a journeyman who’s been through 42 fights and not one of them easy. He has six losses against 36 wins and a history of fighting on the B-side of cards. It’s given him a certain chip on his shoulder, but it’s also something that any opponent who takes it at face value would be well-advised to take a closer look.
Sure, Collazo has a couple of notable losses, but against top opposition, when few gave him a shot, he turned in performances that many keen observes of the sport alike felt were deserving of the win. And sometimes, those against-all-odds fights turn into a winner, like the first bout up in Collazo’s Greatest Hits.
3 vs. Jose Antonio Rivera, April 2, 2005, at the DCU Center in Worcester, Massachusetts
Two weeks isn’t exactly a prime training window for a title bout, but when Thomas Damgaard pulled out of his fight against Jose Antonio Rivera, the champion needed to find an opponent on short notice. Enter Luis Collazo, who was already in training for another fight at the time.
“A lot of fighters don’t get to say, ‘I got to fight for a world title.’” Collazo said. “Two weeks’ notice? I was only 23 years old. I couldn’t turn that down. That’s what I’ve been fighting all these years for.”
It wasn’t easy. Collazo had to go to Rivera’s hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, and fight a tough, closely contested match in front of a hostile crowd. But he escaped with a split decision to take Rivera’s title in his own living room—no small feat.
“I was a last-minute addition,” Collazo said. “I had to suck it up. I think that made me a man that night.”
2 vs. Ricky Hatton, May 13, 2006, at TD Banknorth Garden in Boston
If the Rivera fight made Collazo a man, it was time for the man to face a monster the following year. Ricky Hatton had been eating up everyone in his path, a beast at 140 pounds who came to step up to 147 with his 40-0 record on the line.
It didn’t start well for Collazo, who went down for the first time in his career in the first round.
“To me it was more my foot got tangled with his, but it counted as a knockdown,” he said. “It’s part of the game. Things happen. It’s crazy how it happened. To me from there I stepped up to the plate and did what I had to do to come out with a victory, but I didn’t get it.”
Hatton preserved his perfect record in a narrow unanimous decision that could have easily gone the other way. But Collazo took from the Rocky playbook that night, insisting that just being in there with Hatton and taking him the distance proved enough.
“Prior to that fight, he was a monster,” Collazo said. “He was knocking people out. I believe he was feared by other fighters. He was a fighter to be reckoned with. To go there at a young age, it showed I can be there with the top guys in the world.”
1 vs. Andre Berto, January 17, 2009, at Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi
If the loss to Hatton was a bitter pill, the unanimous decision he lost to Andre Berto was a devastating blow. Armed with superior hand and foot speed, Berto couldn’t pull away from Collazo, who waded through punishment to inflict his own and smother Berto all night.
Unofficial scorecards on the broadcast had Collazo ahead comfortably, citing his massive output and relentless attack, but the judges sided with the defending champion.
“For the Berto fight, I knew I had everything to gain,” Collazo said. “I went in there and was nonstop punching from Round 1 to 12. A lot of people thought I won, but I didn’t come out with the victory there either. For a little while after that fight I dwelled on it for quite a time. It was holding me back form moving forward. I learned you can’t dwell on things that happen in life. It’s meant to happen. You’ve got to learn from it and keep moving forward.”
Now Collazo moves forward again, to Keith Thurman in Tampa, Florida, on Saturday night, live on ESPN. For full coverage of Thurman vs Collazo, make sure to visit our fight page.