Collazo returns to the ring on Sunday in New York.
Luis Collazo turns 38 years old next month, and all logic says that his best days are behind him. But the veteran welterweight and perennial B-side is looking for one more big push now that he’s with Top Rank in a welterweight-starved scenario.
Collazo (38-7, 20 KO) will be in action on Sunday, St. Patrick’s Day, facing fellow veteran Samuel Vargas (30-4-2, 14 KO) in a 10-round bout on Irish prospect Michael Conlan’s undercard.
Collazo has been the underdog time and again through his career, facing many big names along the way. He won a world title on short notice in 2005, beating Jose Antonio Rivera, before losing that belt controversially to Ricky Hatton in 2006. After Hatton, he went on to face Shane Mosley, Andre Berto (in a terrific 2009 fight that proved the heart of both fighters), Victor Ortiz (a stunning 2014 Collazo KO upset), Amir Khan, and Keith Thurman.
Right now, he’s on a decent two-fight win streak, beating Sammy Vasquez and Bryant Perrella in those outings. And as crazy as it may sound, a win on Sunday over Vargas could put Collazo right in line for one more world title shot against WBO titleholder Terence Crawford.
Top Rank’s Carl Moretti isn’t saying that outright or anything, but his company isn’t flush with 147-pound names right now, and he sees Collazo as a proven entity:
“He’s from New York and I can see him fighting — as long as he gets past Samuel Vargas, which isn’t an easy fight — somewhere along the line against [big names] at 147. … I think that being a welterweight, he’s going to be placed in a position where he ends up in a meaningful matchup, especially if he’s coming off a win against Vargas. So this fight will determine a lot on what happens next.”
Crawford (34-0, 25 KO) is the only “big name” that Top Rank has at 147, as the rest of the division’s top dogs (Spence, Thurman, Pacquiao, Porter, Danny Garcia) are PBC fighters. Crawford most likely isn’t going to be able to land a fight with any of those guys any time soon, thanks to politics and TV deals and all that, so “Bud” and Top Rank are searching for opponents of substance.
That led them, for now, to Amir Khan (33-4, 20 KO), who will face Crawford in an April 20 ESPN pay-per-view main event. If Crawford beats Khan as expected, the pool is really shallow.
Egidijus Kavaliauskas (21-0, 17 KO), a 30-year-old Top Rank fighter, figures to be in line. He’s Crawford’s mandatory, and is decent but not a big name or anything, and would be a massive underdog. Beyond that, as far as people who might actually be available, you start getting into prospects. That’s where Collazo, a veteran who can sell at least a few tickets in New York, could come into play. Hell, before Crawford-Khan was put together, there was talk of Crawford-Collazo already.
I’m not going to suggest Collazo as a threat to Crawford, but when you look at the landscape right now, it’s not hard to see how he might slide in as a stopgap opponent at the highest level one more time.