Monday, February 12, 2007

COLLAZO LOOKS TO SOUR SUGAR SHANE


You can make the argument that former WBA Welterweight titlist Luis Collazo, next up to face “Sugar” Shane Mosley in Las Vegas on February 10th, has never really lost a fight at all.

The first blemish on Collazo’s record came at the hasty hand of referee Jay Nady, who as he often does, prematurely jumped into the middle of Collazo's proceedings against Edwin Cassiani. It was just another screw up in the long list of fights that Nady has tainted by stopping too soon. Collazo’s second loss was a questionable decision to Ricky Hatton last May in Boston. Some argue that Collazo should easily be undefeated right now, so as he prepares to get sour on “Sugar” Shane in Vegas – Collazo should have a lot to feel sweet about.

Despite the fact that he appeared spectacular while dismantling Fernando Vargas in his last fight, many feel that “Sugar” Shane Mosley may have fermented and that he’s ripe for the picking. After all, Mosley is closer to 40 than he is 30 and he’s a veteran of nearly 50 professional fights with 14 years on his pro clock.

Like all fighters, Mosley sees things differently than the critics and had this to say about Collazo, whom he will face at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. “Luis Collazo is a rising star in this game and I’m looking forward to matching skills with him on February 10th. “I’m coming to fight and to put on a great show for the fans, and from what I’ve seen of Collazo, he feels the same way. I’m ready to go to war.”

Mosley showed signs of being a little long in the tooth as far back as 2002 when he dropped two in a row to Vernon Forrest at 147 pounds. Prior to meeting up with Fernando Vargas, who has been reclaimed from the damaged goods bin several times too many, Mosley hadn’t scored a knockout win in over five years.

For Collazo he finds himself with another great opportunity and in another great position to overtake one of the true big names in boxing. Big Apple to the core, Collazo is a former two-time New York Golden Gloves champion who participated in the 2000 Olympic trials. He is the proud owner of a crafty southpaw style along with enough power to keep opponents honest. His boxing skills and movement have been more than adequate in building his record to 27-2 (13) KO’s and on a good night he’s the type of guy that can do it all. Some say he was never more brilliant than the night in 2005 when he tapped out a jazz tune for eight rounds on Miguel Angel Gonzalez’ noggin in Chicago.

The close and controversial loss to Hatton still rubs Collazo the wrong way, but he knows the fight with Mosley is even bigger and represents a huge step up to a different stage in his career. “I’m very excited to be in another marquee fight,” the 25 year-old Collazo says. “I'm younger than Shane so I’ve admired him for a long time. It says a lot about Mosley that he didn't avoid me like some other fighters have in the past because I'm a slick southpaw.”

Don King is in Collazo’s promotional corner and he thinks he’s found a 147-pound diamond in the rough. “I call Luis Collazo the un-crowned champion because everyone who saw him fight the sensational Ricky Hatton last year knows he successfully defended his WBA welterweight title,” King bellowed. “Luis took everything Hatton threw at him and still had “The Hitman” out on his feet in the final round.”

King is often prone to rants of foolishness, but the part about Collazo having Hatton nearly “out on his feet” is true. On that dark, cold, rainy night in Boston at the half empty TD Banknorth Garden, it was Hatton’s family that was ringing their hands and looking on with lip-biting concern as Hatton absorbed one clean shot after another from Collazo’s fists. A heavy punch in the last round had Ricky hanging on and the English boys in the stands who all night long incessantly chanted, “Here we go! Here we go! Here we go!” clammed up tighter than a New England clam when it looked as though their boy Ricky might indeed be the one to go.

Though Collazo didn’t get the decision in the Hatton fight he did gain something more valuable – respect. Many boxing fans had never seen Luis Collazo fight and didn’t really know who he was until that night but they know him now. While he was down for a flash in the first round - the rest of the way he gave as good as he got – and then some. Hatton took many flush, clean, hard shots to the head and he was hit hard enough and often enough by Collazo’s fists to blacken his eyes and apparently scare him out of the welterweight division and back down to 140 pounds.

For those who believe that Collazo’s measly thirteen knockouts won’t pose a problem for Mosley, Hatton sees things differently and commented on Collazo’s power in this manner, “He hurt me several times. The force of his shots moved me back.”

The first time that Collazo fought in Las Vegas was the quick Jay Nady stoppage where Collazo “lost” to Edwin Cassiani in three rounds. The fight took place on Fremont Street in Las Vegas under 91 degrees of hot April sun in 2002 and the experience was not a good one for the Queens, New York resident.

After a cautious couple of rounds against the big-punching Colombian, it was Collazo who was moving forward behind the jab and catching punches on the gloves all the while looking every bit a young, undefeated prospect at 14-0. In the third, things were going well until Cassiani caught Collazo and landed several big right hand shots. Nady then abruptly called a halt to the proceedings without Collazo ever touching the canvas.

Steve Farhood was on hand for the Nady stoppage against Cassiani and saw the stoppage this way when he called the fight on Showtime, “I think what Nady saw, when those right hands landed flush, I think he saw the eyes roll just a little bit in Collazo. I’m not a fan of the standing eight-count necessarily, but that’s a situation where a standing eight count would have been perfect. Because you had a fighter who had not been previously hurt who was suddenly hurt and it would have bought the referee and Collazo a little bit of time.”

Asked what he thought of Nady’s quick stoppage, the Brooklyn-born Collazo had his to say at the time: “That’s two times. He don’t like Brooklyn!” He was of course referring to Nady’s quick stoppage when he also summarily halted fellow Brooklynite Zab Judah’s dance moves against Kostya Tszyu.

On his next trip to Vegas, Collazo is hoping for a better roll of the dice and that Jay Nady won’t be the referee. He’s got a big name opponent, another fight on HBO and many feel he is catching “Sugar” Shane Mosley at just the right time to beat him – and that would be a sweet thing indeed if your name is Luis Collazo.

January 2007

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