By Jake Donovan
The worst question you can ask a fighter at the crossroads heading into a major event is whom he would next like to face should he win the challenge in front of him.
Former champs Victor Ortiz and Luis Collazo are both in the same boat; badly in need of a big win in order to remain afloat in the rankings in the 147 and 154 lb. divisions. So it’s only natural that tunnel vision is firmly applied to their upcoming January 30 clash at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on Fox Sports 1.
“Right now for me, Victor Ortiz is everything,” insists Collazo (34-5, 17KO), who has won three straight since an upset loss to Freddy Hernandez in Sept. ‘12. “A victory over him means my future moves on. If not, my future doesn't move on. Victor is on my radar and that's it.”
The feeling is mutual for Ortiz (29-4-2, 22KO), who hasn’t fought since suffering a broken jaw in his injury-induced 9th round stoppage loss to Josesito Lopez in June ’12. Ortiz has lost two straight, having suffered a knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Sept. ’11.
“Luis obviously has a lot of respect for me, and (the feeling is mutual),” Ortiz admits. “Training has been rough and tough. My coaches haven't let on me one bit. We've been waiting to get back in the ring and what better opportunity than Luis Collazo.
“I can't wait to hear the sound of that bell. I’m ready and waiting for January 30.”
So much focus is on this event, which takes place during the heart of Super Bowl week, with the NFL’s biggest game of the season taking place at nearby MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. It’s understandable for fighters to sidestep questions about the future.
But what about when a promoter takes the same approach?
“My focus is on this fight,” Schaefer jokes, though in all seriousness is doing his best to simply live in the moment, given the timing of the event “It is a big fight and there is big exposure taking place during Super Bowl week in New York.
“I think if you are Luis Collazo or Victor Ortiz, two recognizable names - the person that wins this fight is clearly in the mix for bigger showdowns. There are world title opportunities and big name showdowns (in the future).”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox