Boxing: Keith Thurman

What's next for Collazo?

January, 31, 2014
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?

Trainer Birmingham: Thurman will steal show

March, 8, 2013
Trainer Dan Birmingham told me his guy Keith Thurman has felonious leanings.

The Florida-based tutor, who trained Winky Wright and Jeff Lacy, said Thurman, nicknamed "One Time" because he says a single shot will drop and stop you, said that the welterweight will steal the show at Barclays Center Saturday night.

"I think he's one of the best out there," Birmingham, 61, told me.

Wait, better than Winky?

"He's going to have to prove himself," he said, but didn't shut the door on the idea. "He has freakish power."

The 24-year-old is 19-0, with 18 KOs, so yeah, I'd say his power stands out. He hasn't faced Grade A foes yet, but opponent Jan Zaveck will take him a step closer to that. The 36-year-old Slovenian held a welter crown, and holds a 32-2 record, with 18 KOs. He was stopped by Andre Berto (in round five) when they met in 2011. "Zaveck is real though, real strong, but doesn't match Keith in skills or power," Birmingham said.

The trainer said fighters have dodged Thurman since he turned pro -- a trend that's increased of late. Soon, the trainer said, he will be near the top of the ladder, and then the top welterweights will accept a rumble.

So, does he thinks Thurman will steal the buzz from Hopkins-Cloud?

"I know it's gonna happen," he said. "It always does."

Hopkins and Cloud make weight

March, 8, 2013

Bernard Hopkins and Tavoris Cloud both made weight Friday and so we're a step closer to seeing if Hopkins, who turned 48 on Jan. 15, can still be considered the ageless wonder of pugilism, or if that cruel predator Father Time has finally gotten his clutches into the Philly-based legend.

Cloud, who holds the IBF light-heavy crown, was 173.8, while Hopkins, a six-time champ, was 174.4 at a session held in the lobby of Barclays Center. Hopkins (52-6-2 with 32 KOs) was in Executioner mode, intensity emanating from every pore, while Cloud looked loosey-goosey during the ceremony. The Florida-born hitter, who holds a 24-0 (19 KOs) mark, giggled when he inadvertently almost yanked down his underwear as he took off his sweatpants to step on the scale.

The heat in the building rose when the two men did a staredown. Hopkins leaned right into Cloud, put his face on Cloud's, and whispered not-so-niceties into the ear of the Don King-promoted boxer. They were separated and escorted to different parts of the building.

After, one vet boxer I spoke to, not on the card, said he thought Cloud looked drained. But the fighter struck me as very relaxed, and told me that he felt as good as he ever has before a fight. His legs had good bounce in them, he reported. And what was it that Hopkins whispered to him during the staredown? "He said, he didn't want me to beat him up too bad," Cloud said, with a slight grin. "I ain't worrying about what he said, I'm about to end his career. It's irrelevant what he said. I told him I'm going to whup his ass."

His trainer, Abel Sanchez, told me he loves Cloud's mood going into the bout. He said he'd rather have a guy be able to joke some, not be too tight and angry, heading into fight night. "We're going to have to make Hopkins fight," he said, when asked about strategy. "We're not letting him rest." Hopkins has never been stopped, but Cloud seems like he's aiming for that. "Anyone can be stopped," he said to NYFightblog.

It's a good bet, though, that the judges will have the final say at the end of the night on the card promoted by Golden Boy.

If you can't make it to Barclays Center, HBO will show the main event, after a support bout pitting Keith Thurman, a show-closer type, against ex-champ Jan Zaveck.

Readers, feel free to drop a prediction in the comments section.

Keith 'One Time' Thurman opening eyes

March, 1, 2013
I was talking to a boxing manager the other day and he was telling me he doesn't care for the attitudes of many of the boxers today. When he hears a kid he is contemplating signing say, "Skills pay the bills," he said, he's inclined to put away the pen and paper. No, signing cuties who prize not getting hit more than inflicting punishment isn't on his to do list. That manager doesn't manage Keith Thurman, but Thurman, a welterweight who fights March 9 at Barclays Center, is the sort of throwback attacker he'd like to have in his stable.

The 19-0 (1 NC, head clash) Florida resident, who has 18 knockouts to his credit, spoke to NYFightblog about his March 9 bout in Brooklyn against ex-champ Jan Zaveck (32-2 with 18 KOs, ex-IBF welter champ; from Slovenia), his rise to this place and why he calls out the top names in the game.

"I'm psyched to fight in NYC on March 9 at the Nets Center [aka Barclays Center]," Thurman told me. "New York is one of those legendary boxing capitals I've yet to enter, and it feels really great to hit New York up." Thurman-Zaveck is support to a Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud mainer, on a card promoted by Golden Boy which will run on HBO (9:30 PM ET start).

Thurman opened eyeballs when he took out Brandon Hoskins on the May 5, 2012, on the Mayweather-Cotto PPV undercard, more yet when he stopped Orlando Lora on the July 21, 2012 Broner-Escobedo undercard on HBO, and exponentially more when he stopped (TKO4) slick vet Carlos Quintana on Nov. 24, 2012, underneath the Guerrero-Berto scrap, again on HBO. Zaveck is probably a step up from Quintana, and Thurman isn't assuming he's going to blast him out with ease.

"Zaveck I know is a very tough and durable fighter, he's been in with world champs, he's an ex-world champion, he's 36 and knows if he wants to be champ again the time is now," Thurman said. Good assessment from the fighter, who grew up in a single parent household, with his mother holding the fort after dad left.

He got into boxing at age 7, and found a mentor in trainer Benjamin Getty, who was with Thurman until he died in May 2009. Thurman won silver at the 2008 Olympic trials, to Demetrius Andrade, and turned down a slot as an Olympic alternate. He turned pro in November 2007.

Thurman isn't shy about trying to separate his foes' heads from their shoulders, or calling out those presently higher than him on the ladder. "I called out big fighters in my HBO debut, I called out Malignaggi, Bradley, Floyd Mayweather, I created buzz," he said. "People maybe said why is he calling people out, he hasn't done anything. I don't claim to have done anything but to I want to show you what I'm about to do. It's about letting the world know the future of boxing is Keith "One Time" Thurman."

And that nickname, "One Time," where does that come from?

Thurman said his dad back in the day would throw hands with buddies, and he'd often put someone down with a single body shot: "I am Keith Thurman Junior, I might as well take his nickname. I didn't announce that nickname till I had eight first-round KOs, I didn't want to brand myself right off the bat, I wanted to show what I can do."

My takeaway: His inclination to finish fights, paired with a smart mix of chutzpah and humility has placed Thurman on my must-watch list.

Keith Thurman vs. Malignaggi?

January, 7, 2013
The offers, callouts and disses flow like New Year's resolutions on Jan. 1, and Paul Malignaggi generally treats them like most people do their own resolutions after a few weeks -- with indifference.

Sunday night on the Internet radio show KO Lounge, prospect Keith Thurman said he wanted a piece of Paulie. The 19-0 Floridian, age 24, said Paulie has a belt and he wants that WBA welterweight strap.

Thurman's last two bouts, KOs of Orlando Lora and Carlos Quintana, were showcased on HBO and he did much to open eyes. The man has a desire to separate his foe from his senses. So ... would Malignaggi consider a dance date with Thurman, especially if continuing negotiations with Shane Mosley for an April scrap fall through?

"What makes Keith Thurman different than anyone else that wants a title shot but has barely done anything to merit the shot over more deserving opponents?" Malignaggo told ESPN NY. "If he wasn't with Al Haymon, no one would know who this guy was, so when he does something to get himself in position I'm sure all the world champions will take notice of him. But until then, signing with Al Haymon isn't an accomplishment that makes you deserve a title shot. Solid wins over top guys get you title shots, and Keith Thurman has none."

Sounds like as of today, Thurman has the same chance of getting a gig against Paulie as the majority of citizens do of getting slim and trim for 2013.