Both "Vicious" Victor Ortiz (29-4-2, 22 KO) and Luis Collazo (34-5, 17 KO) have spent time as world champions. On Thursday night, they will be looking to move one step closer to championship glory again.
The two men are set for an odd Thursday night bout from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Ortiz is obviously the biggest attraction. Thus, the fight is being marketed as a comeback bout for him. He hasn't fought since June 2012, when a broken jaw forced him to retire in the ninth round against Josesito Lopez.
Prior to that fight, Ortiz was stopped in the fourth round against pound-for-pound king Floyd "Money" Mayweather in September 2011. The 26-year-old lost his WBC welterweight title in this bout.
It goes without saying, Ortiz needs this win.
A few bad decisions, and a failure to knock off top-notch opponents, have Collazo at a crossroads in his career as well. Without a strong performance, the 32-year-old may never get another chance to move into the world title picture. As an extra added incentive, Collazo is a Brooklyn native eager to perform well in front of his hometown crowd.
This battle should be interesting as both men are in a desperate situation. Here's how you can watch:
When: Thursday, Jan. 30 at 9 p.m. EST
Where: Barclays Center in Brooklyn
TV: Fox Sports 1
The Book on Ortiz
Ortiz will be looking to halt his losing streak and to throw his name back into consideration for a title shot. He's an odd character whose toughness can legitimately be questioned. Many fighters would quit on the stool with a broken jaw, but there have been some who haven't.
Ortiz retiring in his bout against Lopez could easily be excused if it were his first and only instance of quitting. When he fought Marcos Rene Maidana in 2009, the bout was action-packed. Here are highlights of that brawl with some poignant commentary from HBO's Max Kellerman at the tail end:
Maidana was dropped three times and Ortiz went down twice. He hit the canvas in the sixth round, got up and promptly quit to give Maidana the victory. The post-fight interview revealed a mental weakness in Ortiz that he still hasn't shaken.
Take a listen:
Even against Mayweather, Ortiz displayed behavior that came off as an attempt to escape a bad situation. Mayweather began to be elusive and land the straight right hand at will. It was looking as if Ortiz was headed for a lopsided and punishing defeat.
He got frustrated and launched a headbutt into Mayweather's chin.
Promptly after a reconciliatory handshake, Mayweather popped Ortiz with a hard combination and the latter was down for the count. Could he have gotten up? Perhaps, but it's Ortiz's history that even makes you wonder about such a thing.
Ortiz addressed the critics in this interview with Ring magazine's Lem Satterfield.
If things get tough against Collazo—which is a real possibility—will Ortiz mentally fold again?
The Book on Collazo
It's been a while since Collazo was a champion or in the ring with a notable fighter. He held the WBA welterweight title from 2004-05, but he lost it in a controversial decision to Ricky Hatton.
Many—including myself—felt that Collazo won that fight, but he didn't get the nod from the judges. Since then, he's faced the likes of "Sugar" Shane Mosley, Freddy Hernandez and Andre Berto. Collazo has one chance to determine whether the rest of his career will be that of a gatekeeper or a veteran contender.
As a veteran, Collazo is focused on trying to expose Ortiz's perceived weaknesses: his heart and that recently broken jaw.
Collazo told Satterfield:
My main thing is to go in there and to frustrate him and to touch that jaw. I haven’t taken any time off. He’s taken some time off, and I hope that he’s able to go to work. This fight is going to define my future, especially here in Brooklyn in my home town. I’m not going to lose in Brooklyn. Not at home.
Of course, both fighters sound confident, but things can change once the punches start flying.
Both combatants are southpaws, so it creates an interesting dynamic. If fight fans are lucky, this could turn into a war like the Kevin Kelley vs. Naseem Hamed bout in 1997. That knockdown-drag-out affair only lasted four rounds, but it was filled with action.
Who wins Ortiz-Collazo, and how?
Collazo is awkward—even beyond being a southpaw. That could present an issue for Ortiz if he hasn't had someone in camp who has been able to mimic him. Luckily for Ortiz, Collazo isn't a huge puncher. Then again, neither was Lopez.
Ortiz has the type of power and aggression to finish Collazo, if his head is in it. But after such a long layoff, and a serious injury, it's hard to know which Ortiz will show up.
Because of that, this is really a pick'em bout. Based purely on athleticism and overall talent, Ortiz should win the fight
If that sounds like a non-committal prediction, it's because it is. No one should be surprised to see Collazo win as Ortiz either completely unravels or just goes through the motions late.
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