What's next for Collazo?


The punch, the countout, the roar, the reaction, dropping to the canvas, soaking in the moment -- Luis Collazo's KO2 win over Victor Ortiz is on the short list of most monumental boxing moments at Barclays Center in the span of time since the building began hosting boxing in October 2012.

Collazo, a Williamsburg, Brooklyn resident who sipped from the golden cup back in 2005, when he beat Jose Rivera to snag the WBA welterweight title, clearly was surging with raw emotion after he proved something that more than a few fight game folks knew -- that he's a skilled fighter, and extremely underrated. Only a cold heart wasn't moved by the site of Collazo, pointing to the heavens, yet another example that boxing is a savior to many an at-risk being.

Last Monday, Paul Malignaggi's advisor, Anthony Catanzaro, told me that Collazo, who holds the WBA International 147 belt, is just about the most underrated boxer from New York, of all time. He simply hasn't been given the respect he should've, both on the judges' scorecards, when he fought aces Rocky Hatton, in 2007, and then rising star Andre Berto on 2009, and among even knowledgeable fight fans, Catanzaro told me.

There will be those who won't give the 32-year-old credit with this win. They'll note that Ortiz was coming off a broken jaw, and had been stopped in his last three bouts, by Floyd Mayweather, Josesito Lopez, and now Collazo. Some will say that Ortiz's heart and mind aren't fully focused on pugilism, and that he should seriously consider hanging up the gloves. Those points can't be dismissed flippantly. But the more fair tack to take is to give Collazo full credit, because his skills and his technique made that win possible. He set up a vicious, tight jawbreaker of a right hook, while Ortiz was starting to throw his own, too wide and too slow.

The natural question is, what's next for the Brooklyn boxer, who spoke movingly of his two younger brothers, who are locked up for criminal acts prior to the bout, and gained a load of fans who weren't aware of his skills or story. Collazo invited Floyd Mayweather, the "Money" man, to venture outside the safe confines of Las Vegas, and square off at Barclays. That'd be a lottery ticket win for Collazo. What about another New York hitter with a bevy of boxing skills who also campaigns at 147 -- Paul Malignaggi? Malignaggi told me he wouldn't want that fight. He's known Collazo forever, and respects the hell out of him. "Collazo is actually a friend of mine, I don't need any amount of money bad enough to fight a friend like that," he said.

Keith Thurman, who holds the WBA "regular" welterweight crown, is a better bet. Golden Boy matchmaker Robert Diaz said after the bout that he likes that fight, that Team Collazo has discussed and has been open to meeting Thurman. He thinks the terms could be hashed out without excess drama.

Readers, your thoughts? How about a fight between Collazo, a role model for all souls looking to return to life's bigger stages, and Thurman, one of the strongest young titlists in the sport today?