By Thomas Gerbasi
BROOKLYN – The knock on Luis Collazo was always that despite winning a world welterweight title, he could never win the big one, whether through the fault of the judges or himself. Thursday night, before 8,050 at Barclays Center, the hometown hero delivered big time, knocking out fellow former champion Victor Ortiz in the second round.
The win was Collazo’s fourth straight since coming back from a yearlong layoff in 2011-12, and clearly the most important, as he upset a fighter in Ortiz who not only was a world champion, but one who had the mainstream appeal that came along with fighting Floyd Mayweather and being on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars. But after sitting on the sidelines since June of 2012 due to a broken jaw suffered in a loss to Josesito Lopez, the polarizing Ortiz will now have to start over again.
The 32-year-old Collazo won’t have that issue. Not now.
With his hometown crowd clearly in his corner, Collazo fought accordingly, with his defense tight throughout the opening frame. Whether the judges would reward that ring generalship as opposed to Ortiz’ aggression would be the question though.
Ortiz continued to press in the second, with several of his bad-intentioned power shots finding air, and not Collazo. This time though, Collazo was making Ortiz pay for his misses, even though an ill-advised complaint to referee Benjy Esteves cost him a couple shots to the head. As the round progressed, Collazo looked to be having fun in the ring as he found his rhythm, and with seconds left in round two, he hit paydirt, cracking Ortiz with a right hand that hurt the Californian. A couple of follow-up shots put Ortiz down on the canvas, and as he blankly stared out into the crowd, he was counted out by Esteves. The time was 2:59.
With the win, Collazo improves to 35-5 with 18 KOs; Ortiz falls to 29-5-2 with 22 KOs.
In a rare meeting of unbeaten top prospects, the Bronx’ Eddie Gomez parlayed a seventh round knockdown and his advantages in speed and power into a 10 round unanimous decision win over Florida’s Daquan Arnett in the junior middleweight co-main event.
Scores were 97-92 twice and 98-91.
The crowd got restless early as the two 154-pounders went through a feeling out process in the opening round that mainly involved feinting and jabbing from both, and little else.
Gomez began opening up with both hands in the second round, with his power shots being met with only a few shakes of the head by Arnett. Gomez remained the looser of the two fighters throughout, smiling as he stalked his foe. Arnett got even in the third, impressively working his jab, moving, and then ripping off the occasional right hand. A Gomez right hand did get Arnett’s attention in the closing seconds of the round though.
The busier of the two in the fourth stanza, Gomez took that round and started the fifth off well too as the right hand found the mark again. Arnett would slowly creep back into the fray, and by the end of the frame, the two were exchanging power shots, with Gomez clearly the heavier puncher of the two, leading him to show even more confidence as the sixth round commenced. He had to be careful not to let Arnett get off too many shots though, as the Orlando native was still dangerous and still very much in the fight.
Gomez got back to serious business in the seventh, putting Arnett on the deck with a thudding left hook to the body with a little over a minute left. Arnett rose to his feet, but he was put on the defensive for the rest of the round as Gomez tried to finish him, completely changing the complexion of the fight scoring wise.
Arnett had a slow start to the eighth round, but by the final minute he was back giving as good as he got against the New Yorker, and he may have stolen the ninth behind a disciplined boxing attack before a solid finish by Gomez that sealed his victory.
With the win, Gomez improves to 16-0 with 10 KOs; Arnett falls to 11-1 with 7 KOs.
In his first fight since August of 2013, Gary Russell Jr. added another win to his record, opening up the Fox Sports 1 television card with a fourth round knockout of overmatched Miguel Tamayo.
The top featherweight contender, whose level of competition to this point in his career doesn’t come close to matching that lofty rating, jumped up to 130 pounds for this one against Obregon, Mexico’s Tamayo (14-8-2, 12 KOs), and the outcome was never in doubt as Capitol Heights, Maryland’s Russell (24-0, 14 KOs) stood in the pocket and potshotted his opponent to the head and body repeatedly before a right hand sent Tamayo to the deck to be counted out at 1:04 of the fourth.
Coming in with a 4-8 (3 KOs) record, there was little surprise that Kentrell “The Beast” Claiborne got bested by 2012 U.S. Olympian Marcus Browne. What was a shocker that the Texan went the six round distance in his cruiserweight bout with the Staten Islander, who nonetheless emerged with a shutout decision win via identical scores of 60-54.
Browne, now 9-0 with 7 KOs, was in control from the start, and though he rocked Claiborne on several occasions, he wasn’t able to get him out of there.
The Bronx’ Emmanuel Gonzalez scored a patient, yet effective, eight round unanimous decision win over Houston’s Victor Sanchez in junior lightweight action.
All three judges scored the bout 78-72.
Getting past his opponent’s guard with 1-2s and a steady body attack, Gonzalez (14-0, 7 KOs) looked to be on his way to a stoppage victory by the fourth round, but the resilient Sanchez (5-8-2, 2 KOs) wouldn’t go away. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the firepower to get Gonzalez’ attention in a bout that saw both fighters penalized a point each by referee Ricky Gonzalez for fouls.
You wouldn’t know it by the shutout verdict rendered by the judges, but unbeaten Brooklynite Zachary Ochoa got a stern test from Arecibo, Puerto Rico’s Jose Valderrama in a four round junior welterweight bout.
Scores were 40-36 across the board for Ochoa (6-0, 3 KOs), a verdict that didn’t reflect the closeness of the match, as Valderrama (3-7, 3 KOs) pressed the favorite from start to finish, an effort that ultimately didn’t get rewarded.
Brooklyn’s Rafael Vazquez opened the show with an explosive outing against St. Paul, Minnesota’s Brad Patraw, halting his foe in the first round of a featherweight bout.
The WBA Fedelatin champion at super bantamweight, Vazquez (10-1, 8 KOs) looked explosive at 126, dropping Patraw (10-7, 5 KOs) twice with vicious left hooks, the second knockdown prompting referee Johnny Callas to stop the fight without a count at the 1:20 mark.