By Jake Donovan
The stateside boxing scene gets a rare treat – a relevant fight on a weeknight.
That’s not to say that the winner of tonight’s showdown between Luis Collazo and Victor Ortiz becomes the man to beat in the loaded welterweight division. That said, there is plenty that awaits the winner of the scheduled 10-round main event at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York (Thursday, Fox Sports 1, 9PM ET).
It’s been over 19 months since Ortiz (29-4-2, 22KO) was last seen in the ring, though not a pretty sight for the former welterweight champion. An attempted bounce back from his knockout loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. went well for roughly eight rounds in his June ’12 welterweight battle with Josesito Lopez.
The bottom instantly fell out from under him just three minutes later, when the pain from a badly broken jaw became too much to bear. Ortiz was forced to remain on his stool, unable to come out for the 10th round of a fight where a win would have set up a lucrative pay-per-view showdown with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Instead, the Californian is forced to once again rebuild.
The good news is, he has been here before. Many had written him off following a crushing stoppage loss to Marcos Maidana in which he flat out quit six rounds into their super lightweight war, which – like the Lopez debacle – took place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Ortiz managed to bounce back over time, putting together a six-fight unbeaten streak capped by a Fight of the Year-level off-the-canvas points win over Andre Berto in April ‘11 to claim a welterweight title. The glory was short-lived, however, losing his next two fights to Mayweather and Lopez.
All told, it’s been 21 months since Ortiz’ last win and it will take a tough performance on the road in order to get back into the mix.
The industry-wide belief is that he will have his hands full attempting to climb back into contention. It’s a safe guess, given that Collazo (34-5, 17KO) is a tough out on any given night for any fighter in and around the welterweight division.
The heavily-tatttoed Nuyorican southpaw makes his third appearance at the Barclays Center, barely the length of a 5K race away from the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn where he was raised. A three-fight win streak accompanies Collazo into the ring tonight, but perhaps more importantly the type of ring activity not afforded to his potentially rusty opponent.
Where Collazo has historically fallen short is in two areas: securing big fights; and – when he does land a notable opponent – getting a fair shake on the scorecards.
For all of the wins throughout his lengthy career, the 32-year old remains best remembered for the fights in which he fell short. There was no disputing his wide points loss to Shane Mosley in 2007, but plenty took up his cause when it came to defending questionable losses to Ricky Hatton (May ’06) and Berto (Jan. ’09). Collazo gave a terrific account of himself in both fights, yet not winning on a single card on either night.
Will the treat of a big fight mere miles from his hometown be enough for Collazo to finally land a notable win? Or will a once-highly touted star on the rise find a way to resurrect his career?
Read on to see how the staff at Boxingscene.com believes tonight’s welterweight action goes down.
BOXINGSCENE.COM STAFF PREDICTIONS – LUIS COLLAZO vs. VICTOR ORTIZ
“Victor finds a way to take this one against the hometown fighter.”
- Damien Acevedo (Ortiz UD)
“There's never any telling which Victor Ortiz will show up, much less one who hasn't fought in 19 months. Assuming he's at full strength, this seems like the type of fight where Luis Collazo is once again forced to play the bridesmaid role. The decision will be disputed in some circles, but the end result being Ortiz reemerging in the welterweight mix.”
- Jake Donovan (Ortiz UD)
“If his jaw is healed to where he can take punches I don't see him having too much difficulty. Collazo, while crafty, does not possess the firepower to make Ortiz think twice in being aggressive.”
- Ernest Gabion (Ortiz TKO7)
“This is a huge moment for Collazo, who'll fight in his hometown against a high-profile opponent. He'll box well enough to make some rounds tough to score. But the motivated, stronger Ortiz will earn a close win in just his second fight since Floyd Mayweather knocked him out more than two years ago.”
- Keith Idec (Ortiz UD)
“Collazo is a tough and underrated fighter. He lost controversial decisions to Ricky Hatton and Andre Berto, and had a lot of trouble finding fights after that. After a long time off he suffered a tough decision loss but has been finding his rhythm which is something Ortiz has lost after an extended time off. Ortiz will be rusty and if taken deep will have a lot of trouble against a crafty veteran. If Ortiz can't get him out early, he will lose a decision, though I expect at least one funny judge.”
- Timothy Kudgis (Collazo SD)
“I am giving Victor Ortiz a slight edge in this one, but I think it will be a very competitive fight. Luis Collazo definitely shouldn't be overlooked, but I feel Ortiz will find a way to pull this out.”
- Chris “Hustle Boss” Robinson (Ortiz UD)
“I'm not sure where to go on this. It feels like Collazo is old but he's not. He's only 32. He's tough, he's cagey...but he's always struggled with speed and he's not been a big puncher. Ortiz, for the flaws he has, has speed and explosiveness. If he still wants to be a fighter, and one would assume he does, this is a back against the wall moment akin to the Berto fight. I think he brings that game and wins a decision with some tough moments.
- Cliff Rold (Ortiz by decision)
“Truth be told I'm more intrigued by how Victor Ortiz's jaw will look and hold up in his fight than I am in the actual match up. Collazo has always proven to be a durable and crafty fighter but Ortiz is simply just a better fighter. Fighting in his hometown will motivate Collazo but I see Ortiz winning a comfortable decision in a good return performance.”
- Luis Sandoval (Ortiz UD)
“At his very best, Collazo is as good boxer as Ortiz is, even though he has lost, where Victor has succeeded. Meanwhile, unlike Ortiz. who is winless for almost three years (hey, I hadn't even got to know my future wife then!), Collazo was relatively busy over the last year. It will give him confidence and polishing enough to hold on Ortiz early on, and then he would slowly bring the fight to Victor and outpoint him in a narrow viscous affair. Too much of a comeback for Ortiz.”
- Alexey Sukachev (Collazo MD)
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