Long layoffs aren’t anything new to Luis Collazo. He had nearly two years’ worth of downtime between fighting David Gogichaishvili and Franklin Gonzalez. Then it was six months to the next fight, a year to the one after that, and so on. Following his May 2014 loss to Amir Khan, Collazo didn’t get in the ring until April for a bounce-back victory over Christopher Degollado.
We’d say he fought less than the Mets win division titles, but no one would buy that kind of exaggeration.
When Luis Collazo gets it on with Keith Thurman on Saturday night, just three months after that Degollado fight, it will mark Collazo’s fastest return to the ring since he took a short-notice title shot against Jose Antonio Rivera in 2005, just five weeks after his previous scrap.
“It’s good because I was already in shape,” Collazo said. “I’m just taking the momentum from the last one to this one. It should be an interesting fight. [Thurman is] a tough fighter. He’s doing what he’s supposed to do to get his W's. I’ve just got to go in there and be smart and fight my fight.”
Not only is Collazo coming back off a short turnaround from his win over Degollado, but he has to go from fighting in his own backyard in Brooklyn to Thurman’s backyard at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida.
Not that Collazo is worried about that. He took on Rivera in his hometown of Worcester, Massachusetts, with two weeks’ notice and won a championship there.
“As a fighter you have to be able to adapt to any environment,” Collazo said. “It’s not the first time I’ve been in this situation. The fight is one-on-one. The fans aren’t in the ring. A lot of people are counting me out and that’s OK. It’s part of the game. They never counted me in in the first place.”
It’s the kind of scenario that could add up to a healthy buffet of anxiety for a fighter: enemy territory, an unusually quick return to the ring and an opponent with a nasty 81 percent knockout rate.
Consider, too, Collazo’s history with close fights against top-tier opponents. His battle with Ricky Hatton in 2006 easily could have gone Collazo’s way. His 2009 fight with Andre Berto many would argue was even closer than the Hatton fight. Both times Collazo ended up on the wrong side of a decision.
With all that, a fighter could be forgiven for thinking he needs to go in guns blazing and shoot for a decisive knockout. But Collazo never changed his approach after those tough fights, and he doesn’t plan on changing his approach for Thurman, either.
“You just have to go out there and not dwell on certain fights,” Collazo said. “The outcome is the outcome. It is what it is. You just have to keep pushing forward and look for the next one. You have to be smart, be smarter than the next fighter. Once that bell rings we’ll see what happens. It’s one thing to have a game plan, but once punches start being thrown you might have to go to Plan B.”
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