Before he turned pro as a boxer, Sammy Vasquez Jr. showed the depths of his courage during two tours of duty in Iraq with the National Guard. Now Vasquez is displaying similar fearlessness in the ring.
In his first fight since experiencing his first professional defeat, Sammy Vasquez Jr. (21-1, 15 KOs) isn’t settling for some cupcake opponent. Rather, “The Sergeant” is taking on former 147-pound world champion and multiple-time world title challenger Luis Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs) on February 2.
The 10-round battle of southpaws from the Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino in Tunica, Mississippi, headlines a loaded three-hour Premier Boxing Champions card on Fox Sports 1 (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT). Also featured are a pair of 10-round bouts, with Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (17-3, 8 KOs) taking on Georgia’s Levan Ghvamichava (17-2-1, 13 KOs) in a 147-pound bout, and Texan Ryan “Cowboy” Karl (13-0, 9 KOs) facing Chicago’s Eddie Ramirez (15-0, 10 KOs) in a clash of unbeaten 140-pound prospects.
Vasquez and Collazo were supposed to square off July 16 on the undercard of Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight title defense against Chris Arreola in Birmingham, Alabama. However, Collazo had to pull out of the fight because of a calf injury.
Felix Diaz—a talented, once-beaten 2008 Olympic gold medalist from the Dominican Republic—stepped in as a replacement opponent, and he bloodied Vasquez en route to winning a 10-round unanimous decision. Initially, the contest was ruled a split draw, but a recalculation of the judges’ scores gave Diaz the nod over Vasquez.
Whereas many fighters choose to ease back into the ring against a lesser foe following their first defeat, Vasquez has instead opted to go the difficult route.
Collazo, a 35-year-old lifetime New Yorker, won a 147-pound world title in April 2005 and successfully defended it once. He lost his title in his second defense—against Ricky Hatton in May 2006—then dropped three subsequent 147-pound title fights, most recently suffering a seventh-round stoppage loss to champion Keith Thurman in July 2015.
Despite those setbacks, Collazo has proven to be a heavy-punching, battle-tested veteran who has fought 256 rounds during his 15-year-plus career—the exact caliber of opponent against whom Vasquez desires to test himself.
“I’m eager to get back in the ring and give the fans a great fight,” said Vasquez, who had stopped 10 of his previous 12 opponents before falling to Diaz. “Fighting a tough veteran like Luis Collazo, who has a lot of heart and experience, is the type of fight I’m looking for.
“The fans are going to see a good fight between two guys who are hungry to get a victory. I can’t wait till the bell rings.”
A 30-year-old lifelong resident of Monessen, Pennsylvania, Vasquez has remained an extremely active fighter since making his pro debut in April 2012.
Conversely, Collazo has been idle since losing to Thurman, so he will be ending a layoff of more than 18 months when he steps through the ropes on February 2. Needless to say, Collazo is eager to get back in the win column.
“I’m totally stoked about this fight against Sammy Vasquez,” he said. “He is a talented fighter, and I’m excited to test his abilities and the will that he has to win. This will be a good one.”
For complete coverage of Vasquez vs Collazo, check out our fight page.