The fight as a whole hardly went as expected for Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, although the desired end result is ultimately what mattered most.
The unbeaten welterweight contender prevailed by 10-round technical decision win over former titlist Luis Collazo in their ESPN-televised battle Friday evening in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Collazo (39-8, 20KOs) suffered a hellacious cut over his right eye after an accidental clash of heads which caused the early ending.
Abdukakhorov—an Uzbekistan-bred boxer who is now based in Malaysia—won by comfortable margins on all three scorecards to remain unbeaten and directly in line for a shot at a welterweight title.
“We were very happy to get the victory, though the fight didn’t go as planned,” Abdukakhorov (17-0, 9KOs) confessed to BoxingScene.com after the win, which served as the chief support to Artur Beterbiev’s 10th round stoppage of Oleksandr Gvozdyk to win the lineal light heavyweight championship. “There were a lot of things we expected to do that didn’t happen.
“It was a valuable lesson learned to train much harder for whenever we get to fight for the title.”
Abdukakhorov’s previous win in Philadelphia—which came just seven months ago—earned him the right to challenge for the version of the welterweight title currently held by Errol Spence (26-0, 21KOs), who has since become a unified titlist following a thrilling 12-round win over Shawn Porter this past September.
Mandatory contender status is hardly enough to make such a fight appealing for Spence, which prompted Abdukakhorov’s team to take on a veteran as crafty as Collazo, a former welterweight titlist who remains a tough out for any welterweight. The 38-year old southpaw from Queens, New York fought as hard as he could on Friday, only to have to contend with a torn biceps and facial cuts before the fight was stopped with roughly one minute to go.
“He didn’t fight anything like he did in his last fight,” notes Abdukakhorov, referring to Collazo’s laboring 1-round decision over fringe contender Samuel Vargas this past March in New York City. “But it was a challenge we wanted, a better fight than my last one (in Philadelphia, a 12-round win over Keita Obara). This was in a bigger arena and on a bigger platform.
“It made for a great show and now more people know who I am than before the fight. I learned more about myself and everything I will need to do to get ready to fight for the IBF title next year.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox