VERONA, New York – Oscar Collazo came through a torrid second-round storm to make the third defense of his WBO strawweight title against Gerardo Zapata.

Collazo won a lopsided decision in an all-southpaw clash, but he was rattled by a heavy shot in Round 2 and survived some rough moments before turning things around and, ultimately, running away with victory on the scorecards.

The champion, born in Newark but fighting out of Villalba, Puerto Rico, won by scores of 119-109 (twice) and 117-110 to improve to 10-0 (7 KOs).

Zapata, from Managua, Nicaragua, fell to 14-2-1 (5 KOs). 

There was classy action throughout the opening session, with Collazo keeping Zapata occupied with his lead right hand while awaiting an opening with his overhand left.

It seemed as though Collazo was finding a rhythm and looking every inch the fighter he was advertised until he was stung by a heavy right hand and sent crashing into the ropes. The champion nearly went down but managed to find his feet – although he was forced to retreat during a very bumpy final minute of the round.

The fight opened up in the third. There was a left to the body and a left uppercut by Collazo, but he was caught by a straight left moments later, although Collazo had the best of the round.

Collazo looked good firing in quick shots through and around Zapata’s guard, and it was impressive when he didn’t stay in the pocket long enough to taking incoming fire afterwards.

Zapata was grinding forwards, working both hands into Collazo’s body, but he was losing rounds.

Meanwhile, Collazo picked the pace up, pivoting one way and another, changing direction and mixing up his attacks, leading to the head and body, and with jabs and uppercuts.

Zapata did not offer much in the sixth, seeming reluctant to throw, and picked up a verbal warning for straying low in the next when he did.

Collazo’s shot selection in the eighth saw him largely dominate the action, forcing Zapata to endure uncomfortable periods on the ropes, and the challenger was starting to soak up some punishment. 

There were signs that it might not go the distance, although little of consequence happened in the ninth. By this point, Zapata would have been well adrift on the scorecards, and that second-round success felt like a long time ago. Collazo had re-established control while Zapata couldn’t contain the champion’s quick-fisted flurries.

Zapata looked comparatively one-dimensional, and although he came out aggressively to start the final round, Collazo was wise to his attacks and saw out the contest in second gear.

It was a comprehensive win for Collazo, who managed to – at times – dazzle in front of Puerto Rican legends Miguel Cotto and Ivan Calderon, the latter of whom held this title years ago and who is in town for his induction into the nearby International Boxing Hall of Fame this weekend.

“He caught me with a good shot,” Collazo told BoxingScene afterward. “I slept on my defense right there, but we managed to box intelligently. It was a good hit, he caught me. 

“I knew I was in control from that fifth, sixth round and I know he was trying to catch me with one shot, after he’d caught me with one shot, but I didn’t let him.”

Collazo hopes to be back out in September or October and wants activity. 

“I wasn’t entirely happy [with my performance]. I did box intelligently, we boxed intelligently. I’ll see it again and see what mistakes I made to correct them and to know how I feel about the fight.”