As long as Top Rank has summer dates, “Cassius” Clay Collard is happy to fill them.
The unexpected boxing cult favorite continues to thrive during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic which has otherwise hamstrung the sport. Collard picked up his fourth win in a year where a lot of boxers are still awaiting their first fight, his latest opportunity coming in a 2nd round stoppage of Lorawnt T. “Smash” Nelson in a battle of multi-sport athletes.
Collard’s victory came Tuesday evening, live on ESPN from the MGM Grand Conference Center (“The Bubble”) in Las Vegas where he scored an upset win over unbeaten David Kaminsky just four weeks ago.
“The key is just staying consistent,” Collard (8-2-3, 3KOs)—a former UFC fighter—insisted after the bout of a performance he made look effortless against a willing target. “I work hard every day. I listen to my coach every day. He yells at me every day. It’s just about staying consistent and keeping the ball rolling.”
Nelson (5-4, 4KOs)—a former kickboxer before taking up the sweet science—was floored three times on the night. Collard had bumped off a trio of unbeaten prospects in 2020 heading into this bout, a rare occasion where he served as the betting favorite. The difference in skill level and pro experience was apparent, as was the adjustments made by the fighting pride of Burley, Idaho.
“I fought more like a boxer. Not crowding him so much, keeping him at the end of my punches and working my job. Boxing man, just working on my boxing.”
There stands a chance the can work on it some more, as Top Rank is willing to bring back Collard whenever he’s ready to return. It could be as soon as August, when they go to Thursday-only shows in The Bubble. Whether it’s a match similar to Tuesday or back to the aggressive matchmaking he’s faced throughout his pro career, getting back in the ring remains the only goal.
“As soon as Top Rank wants me back, I’ll be ready,” insists Collard. “Next month on ESPN, let’s go! This whole ‘A-side’ and ‘B-side’ thing doesn’t matter to me.
“I’m a fighter. I’ll fight anybody.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox