Greatness Deferred: Thurman Stops Collazo

By Robert Ecksel on July 11, 2015
Greatness Deferred: Thurman Stops Collazo
Is Keith Thurman ready for Floyd Mayweather? (Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions)

Keith Thurman brought his considerable talents into the ring. But Collazo proved to be harder to get out of there than anyone expected…

Saturday night at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida, in the inaugural Premier Boxing Champions fight card on ESPN, WBA World welterweight champion Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs), from Clearwater, Florida, successfully defended his title by stopping former welterweight champion Luis Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs), from Queens by way of Brooklyn, New York, between rounds seven and eight.

Fighting out of the red corner in burgundy and white trunks, Thurman brought his considerable talents into the ring. He is fast and athletic. He is serious and skilled. But Collazo, fighting out of the blue corner in red trunks, an underdog way past his prime, proved to be harder to get out of there than anyone expected.

Collazo knew better than to trade with Thurman in the first. He was moving, using the ring, using his veteran’s wiles to keep away from the stalking champion. The lack of action in the opening round was a reflection of what was to come.

The challenger continued to play it safe in round two. Collazo is not only eight years older than Thurman. He’s more shopworn and fought accordingly.  “One Time” was landing single shots, a lead right, a hook, another right, a left to the body. But even a three-punch combination at the bell failed to elicit the reaction it perhaps deserved.

Round three was a perfect demonstration of Thurman’s gifts and liabilities. He fought carefully. He fought thoughtfully. He was picking his spots. He was making Collazo miss. But for all that, Thurman is not an exciting fighter.  He was getting the better of his opponent, as expected, causing his left eye to swell and discolor, but he has a dangerous tendency to leave himself open when he punches, which a younger, more skilled fighter will happily exploit if given the chance.

The fourth round was a carbon copy of what preceded it. Thurman was too fast, too athletic, too youthful, too in his boxing prime for Collazo. It wasn’t that Collazo was out of it, per se, as much as he was gradually busting up without doing any significant busting in return.

Thurman continued sharpshooting in the fifth. He was moving around the ring, Dancing out of harm’s way, insofar as Collazo was capable of harming him. But then something strange happened. Collazo saw an opening. He landed a beautiful left hook to the body that hurt Thurman and bent him in half.  The champion went into survival mode. He managed to avoid getting nailed for the remainder of the round. But the man who’d been anointed as the “next big thing” was suddenly looking vulnerable.

Taking a page from the Sam Langford playbook (“I hit the body ‘cause the head got eyes.”), Collazo opened round six with a right downstairs. Thurman was keeping away and using the jab. But he is flatfooted, he doesn’t fight on his toes, and one of these days it’s going to catch up with him. Those 26-year-old legs will take him far, but not as far as he might like. Look at Roy Jones. Look at Ali. Or listen to Willie Pep. (“First your legs go. Then you lose your reflexes. Then you lose your friends.”) Thurman, fortunately, is still young. After Collazo landed a four-punch combination, Thurman landed a straight right hand, followed by a big right at the bell. Collazo was now bleeding from a cut above his right eye.

Thurman continued to assault Collazo in the seventh. His face was a mess and Thurman was stopping and popping him with a variety of punches. Collazo’s moment was brief, however dramatic. But Collazo’s moment had past.

Between rounds seven and eight there was much ado in the challenger’s corner. Cut, dinged, bruised and discouraged, the referee asked Collazo if he wanted to continue. He said, “I can’t see.” The ref said, “Do you want me to stop it?” Collazo replied, “I can’t fight.”

It was a disappointing end to a somewhat disappointing fight.

On his own terms, Thurman is a good fighter. One doesn’t become world champion without being a good fighter. But he has been so lauded, so celebrated, so lionized, that expectations have risen accordingly. And those expectations, the lofty standards we apply to the kings of the ring, must of necessity be applied to Thurman, if the praise is to have any meaning at all.

He may be a work in progress, but he’s been at it since he’s been seven, so chances are the Thurman we see is the Thurman we get. It may be foolish to expect him to be a natural like Guillermo Rigondeaux. It may be way over the top to hope that he’ll be meta like Mayweather. But if Keith Thurman is Keith Thurman, that should be enough.

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Keith Thurman vs Luis Collazo - Full Fight

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  1. Tex Hassler 03:43pm, 07/13/2015

    The word GREAT is an over worked word in today’s boxing world. Thurman is good but certainly not great. He would not last long against Carmen Basilio or any of the top fighters of 1960 to 1920. Mayweather had better sign to fight Thurman now so he can coast to another victory.

  2. KB 07:56pm, 07/12/2015

    Ester, Thurman is simply being over-hyped. It’s not his fault, but the gap between expectations and reality is a large one.

  3. Robert Ecksel 06:34pm, 07/12/2015

    Ester—Great fighters need to fight great fighters to affirm their greatness. It has always been thus. Collazo is a fine competitor, but one who peaked a decade ago. The best fighter Thurman has beaten is Robert Guerrero, a natural featherweight who only moves in one direction and might have been softened up by the whooping he got from Mayweather. Thurman is a good fighter, perhaps a very good fighter, and he may one day be a great fighter. However that day has yet to arrive. He is a world champion. No one can deny him that. But greatness, which is hard to define but universally recognized, is earned, not bestowed, and all the feel-good publicity in the world doesn’t make it otherwise.

  4. Koolz 04:56pm, 07/12/2015

    Do not see Thurman beating Khan but I want to see that fight!

    For this Fight Thurman did his job.

  5. Ester 02:06pm, 07/12/2015

    Am I missing something here?  So Thurman got hurt in the fifth.  How does that diminish him being a “great fighter?”  Floyd got buzzed with Shane Mosley and Judah, but pulled it together and got the win.  After the 5th round, Thurman got his wind and legs back in the 6th and 7th - what a champion is supposed to do.  He was busting Collazo the fuck up, and Collazo used his eye has an excuse because he simply didn’t want anymore.  He was getting beat up.  If making a guy quit on his stool after being hurt is not amazing, what do we want from this guy?  Just asking, cuz I’m a little confused.

  6. KB 09:50am, 07/12/2015

    “Teddy was disturbingly disgusting with his false praise of One Time.  Hey I am a fan of KT, a young exciting fighter who knocks people out of there is entertaining for me.  What I am not a fan of is being fooled by the bullshit being spewed Teddy and pbc to talk a guy up into a hype where he does not belong.  Floyd should take this fight because he will have KT hurt and buzzed and a great chance to stop him if he wanted to keep his foot on the gas.

  7. KB 09:41am, 07/12/2015

    Time for Teddy to stfu when it comes to what’s inside a boxer’s head and heart. What qualifies him to be so judgmental about a boxer’s courage?

    As for Everyone’s Superman and the most hyped fighter I have had the displeasure to read about of late, he now would be just perfect for LiL Floyd because Floyd would school him for 12 humiliating rounds. But the fans now know this, so it will have to be someone else. That body shot was worth an early retirement for Team Thurman. All of a sudden, Berto looks interesting.

    Of course, the guy who deserves it is Bradley but he won’t get it because he is too dangerous,

  8. Bob Settimo 09:09am, 07/12/2015

    Something wasn’t right ,Luis was not surpose to win.Luis hurts Keith real bad the 5 & 6 Round why quit ,his cuts were not bad enough to stop the fight.If I didn’t know better Luis made some extra money,They never thought Luis would hurt him.I have no more respect for Luis.Now as far as Keith he would never beat a top fighter..Keith thinks to much of Keith.Now him fighting Floyd it would be dancing with the stars with Floyd Winning.

  9. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:50am, 07/12/2015

    BTW….getting really tired of the sukass genuflections to Al Haymon….give it a break for Christ’s sake.

  10. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:47am, 07/12/2015

    Why not RTD instead of TKO….no….really….everybody in the whole damn world saw the back and forth in that corner….the referee didn’t stop the fight on the advice of the physician at ring side or did I miss that part. “I can’t see”....what did that mean anyway….that the retina is torn and the vision was partially or totally blacked out….or I got these cuts and they’re bothering me and my work is done here and anyway I did more than enough in the fifth round to earn my paycheck.

  11. Robert Ecksel 07:42am, 07/12/2015

    Thurman’s not bouncing around the ring like Ali and Roy Jones, but those young legs of his serve him well. The comparison is based as much on athleticism as footwork, and how aging erodes the athleticism with unforeseen and unwelcome consequences.

  12. BarryO 07:33am, 07/12/2015

    I’m a little confused, Robert.  If he’s flat-footed, why are you comparing him to Ali and Roy Jones?  It would seem that he’s resting those legs.

  13. raxman 11:25pm, 07/11/2015

    this is always the problem with fighting a “past it” fighter; you know you’ll win but anything less than a dominant, spectacular, win does almost as much damage as losing. fighting collazo was always going to have that sort of risk to it. this fight was a step backwards from the fight v Guerrero which was, at that time, a perfect step fwd, in that passing of the baton sort of way that marks a good fighters climb up the ranks
    the up side for we the fans is that Thurman will now have to step up again. and its time. time for him to fight a quality 147pounder. Porter is the obvious choice as their careers followed a similar trajectory. But any of those guys who fill the top spots of the weight class would do.

  14. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo aka Gimpel 08:13pm, 07/11/2015

    “Better safe than sorry.” (Luis Collazo). I’m thinkin’ even Mom was wondering what happened there. Santone talking to Nelson way too much early trying to get him to behave but Willie had other plans and Teddy’s score card in line with the story line of the night and way the fuk off!

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