Luis Collazo: A New Beginning

By Francis Walker BASN Staff Writer
Updated: April 4, 2011

Luis Collazo

Luis Collazo

New York, NY—Fighting for the first time in more than 18 months, former WBA welterweight champion, Luis Collazo (30-4, 15 KOs) returns home. Collazo, a former two-time New York City Golden Gloves champion, will face Frankie Gonzalez (13-8, 9 KOs) on April 13, at the Oceana in Brooklyn, NY. The bout is scheduled for eight rounds in the junior middleweight division. (Luis Collazo prepares for ring return)

Collazo, a former two-time New York City Golden Gloves champion, has shared the ring with the likes of Ricky Hatton, Sugar Shane Mosley, and Andre Berto.

The slick-punching, 29 year-old boxer turned professional in May 2000 having stopped Jose Maldonado inside one round. The Brooklyn, NY native won his first world title in April 2005, following a 12-round split-decision victory against Jose Antonio Rivera before stopping Miguel Angel Gonzalez (TKO 8) in his first defense later that year.

However, in some of his biggest fights, Collazo has allowed golden opportunities to slip through his gloves. In June 2006, he was caught off guard and suffered a first-round knockdown in his second title defense against Hatton. Collazo was hurting Hatton throughout the fight and nearly KO’d the popular Brit in the final round, but dropped a razor thin unanimous decision.

Following a lackluster performance against Mosley in 2007, Collazo fought perhaps the best fight of his career when he challenged Berto for the WBC welterweight championship in January 2009. It was perhaps the finest performance of Collazo’s career, but was on the losing end of a close unanimous verdict.

Suddenly, Collazo simply disappeared.

“Inactivity,” Collazo stated as one of the reasons why he was away from the sport. “Don [King] wasn’t getting me the correct fights. He put me out for one year and had me fight at welterweight on short notice fights. He didn’t make me an offer to fight at 154.”

There were times when Collazo was training for fights and had to break camp because, either King didn’t provide for the expenses or a suitable opponent. Instead of suing in a costly lawsuit, Collazo elected to allow his contract with King to expire. Therefore, Collazo, now self-managed, is anxious to return to the ring as a junior middleweight (154) with hopes of landing a big money fight either at 154 or welterweight (147).

“We’re ready to go back,” Collazo said. “I’m always in the gym helping out with the other upcoming amateur fighters and junior Olympians in the NYC Golden Gloves. Keeping them off the streets.”

Collazo started boxing at a young age under the guidance of Jimmy O’Pharrow, USA Boxing trainer and the founder of the Starrett City Boxing Club located in Brownsville, Brooklyn, NY.

On the evening of February 21, 2011, Jimmy O’Pharrow passed away at the age of 85. Since 1978, Jimmy O’Pharrow helped a lot of fighters from Brooklyn achieve fame from the NYC Golden Gloves circuit toward the professional ranks. The lengthy list includes Riddick Bowe, Shannon Briggs, Zab Judah, Danny Jacobs, Paulie Malignaggi, Dimity Salita and Luis Collazo himself.

“Jimmy O was a big influence,” Collazo added. “He was the founder of Starrett City. He was a gat friend and taught me a lot about boxing. Jimmy always told me to believe in myself. If I believe in myself, people will believe in me as well. But if you don’t believe in yourself then you will never take it to another level. You’ll be back where you’re at.”

Following a successful stint as an amateur that included a stellar 97-7 record and a pair of Golden Gloves titles (1998, 2000), Collazo made good on his willingness to believe and achieve. He did win a world title five years after his pro debut. He did headline HBO boxing and did have opportunities to make a name for himself in the sport. However, the conversation shifted back to Andre Berto on several occasions.

When the two battled each other, Collazo, not recognized for having knockout power, stunned Berto throughout the fight. The slick boxer was able to maneuver, pivot, and attack the aggressive Boxer-puncher champion consistently. Collazo was able to force Berto to fight against the ropes. Collazo slipped punches and countered effectively. Berto was unsettled during what was an action-fight that had people clamoring for a return match that probably will never happen.

“It’s not up to Luis Collazo,” the former WBA welterweight champion said. “It was up to team Berto. They didn’t want the rematch to happen. Berto needs to stop fighting 140-pounders. That is what he has been doing since our fight. He’s not on my radar.”

Collazo added” You have to fight the best sooner or later. The best has to fight the best anyway. When the fans demand something, sooner or later justice will be served. Once the fans demand a fight it has to happen.”

Until Collazo can get either a rematch with Berto or even a bigger fight with a Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, his focus is on the Oceana on April 13.

“My job is to be ready at all times,” Collazo stated. “It’s all the same. No change in preparation. I’m at 154 pounds. I’m still strong.”

The Oceana is located at 1029 Brighton Beach Avenue, Brooklyn, NY. Tickets can be purchased at www.DSALITA.comor by calling 917-440-3278.