Former WBA welterweight champion Luis Collazo (33-5, 17 KOs) continues his journey towards another title shot when he takes on Alan Sanchez (12-2-1, 6 KOs) Monday night in San Antonio, Texas. The Brooklyn native headlines the second “Golden Boy Live!” card on Fox Sports 1.
If you’re looking for someone to stir things up around the 147 pound division then Collazo may be your guy. He’s a crafty southpaw who would give nearly anyone trouble. Having faced a prime Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton and Andre Berto, his resume is as deep as anyone outside of the top three.
He last competed in a nationally televised main event in 2009, when he lost a controversial decision to a then rising star Berto. It wasn’t the first time he was on the wrong end of a questionable tally. Hatton chose Collazo as his first opponent at welterweight and escaped with his title and what many ring side observers called a gift decision.
The Puerto Rican fighter still wonders how those two defeats could’ve changed the course of his career if they went his way, but he’s come to terms with it nonetheless.
“If I won those fights who knows where I would be right now,” Collazo said. “But I’m grateful for those losses. They made me a stronger and more focused individual outside of the ring as well as inside of it.”
Since the Berto fight, shoulder surgery and fight cancellations have kept Collazo mostly inactive, competing just four times in four years. But the self-proclaimed “gym rat” continued to train six days a week. He even flew out to the famed Kronk Gym in Detroit, where he spent over three months away from hometown distractions.
After a potential fight with undefeated prospect Shawn Porter fell through, his promoter Golden Boy presented him with the chance to fight Sanchez in Texas, an opportunity Collazo couldn’t pass up.
“Training’s been great, I’m getting some good work in,” said Collazo. “I’m the type of fighter that will go anywhere and fight anyone to give boxing fans what they want, and that’s excitement.”
Collazo is covered in tattoos from his head to his legs, giving him an edge that may intimidate some people. But he’s a soft spoken gentleman, who according to trainer Willie Vargas has never forgotten his roots and will go out of his way to appease his fans.
“He never forgets his fans. He could be running five miles and if a fan goes to stop him, he will stop, sign the autograph and continue on his run,” said Vargas. “He’s one of the most humble world champs I’ve ever seen. Today, you don’t see too many world champs like that.”
One thing that gets Collazo fired up is the talk about his age and how young his opponent is. He believes his experience gives him a clear advantage going into this fight.
“To be 22 years old is good, but being 32 is better,” said Collazo. “I have the experience, I’ve been around the game longer and I’m not washed up. If they think I’m washed up they’re going to run into some problems.”
If he beats Sanchez (12-2) he’d like to take on current WBA welterweight champion Adrien Broner. Collazo thinks it would be an entertaining fight and hopes it could take place at The Barclays Center.
“Broner is one of the boxers I would like to fight,” said Collazo. “I believe he should’ve stayed down at 135. He picked Paulie to fight him because he knew he couldn’t punch. But hey styles make fights and that would be an interesting fight.”
There’s no indication that fight will happen. Many young pugilists have turned down the opportunity to take on Collazo, including Amir Kahn and the aforementioned Porter.
“These young fighters keep ducking me, but luckily Sanchez took the fight,” Collazo said. “Half of these young guys don’t want to fight. You have to learn the hard way in the boxing game, but these dudes are learning the soft way and when they do step up, they’re going to have a problem.”
Although he lives a clean life and loves to train, Collazo has no plans to fight into the Bernard Hopkins years. His next loss could potentially speed up his retirement plans, so if he’s to make the most out of his time left in the sport he must win every fight.
“There’s no losing for me right now. I’m not at the point in my career where I can take another L,” said Collazo. “This is a stepping stone for me to get to one of those world titles. I’m excited, I’m stoked, I’m hungry, this is my desire and it’s going to be a great night, come Monday.”