Why the Luis Collazo Fight Is a Crazy Risk for Amir Khan

James GarnerContributor IMarch 25, 2014

BOLTON, ENGLAND - MARCH 24:  Amir Khan shadow boxes during a media workout at the Gloves Community Centre on March 24, 2014 in Bolton, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

On 30 January, Victor Ortiz, once one of boxing's most hyped prospects but now coming off two straight defeats, took on Luis Collazo in what was intended as a comeback fight to put him back into the welterweight picture.

Collazo, 32, had briefly held the WBA title from 2005-06 but subsequently lost to Ricky Hatton, Shane Mosley, Andre Berto and Freddy Hernandez. With only three minor fights across 2012 and 2013, he was seen as a fighter near his end.

However, the Brooklyn, N.Y.-born boxer upset the apple cart when he caught Ortiz with a counter right hook near the end of the second round. Ortiz turned away and stumbled to the canvas, failing to return to his feet before the referee counted 10.

On 3 May, Amir Khan, once one of boxing's most hyped prospects but still recovering from two straight defeats in 2011-12, will take on Collazo in a fight that is intended to put him into the picture in the welterweight division.

See the similarities?

The sound that the Khan camp should be hearing is alarm bells. In the press release, Collazo said, "Defeating Victor Ortiz in January was just the beginning. Facing and beating Amir Khan on the biggest stage in the sport is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I will take full advantage of this."

For Collazo, this is a genuinely huge opportunity, easily his biggest fight for five years. Meanwhile, Khan is looking ahead to a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather, who headlines the May show and at one time was supposed to be Khan's next opponent.

Collazo stops Victor Ortiz in two.
Collazo stops Victor Ortiz in two.Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Khan told ITV Sport (h/t Bad Left Hook): "I spoke to Floyd on the phone a couple of weeks ago, and he said, 'Look, champ, one day it'll happen, you're a great fighter, I've got three fights left, you're one of the opponents definitely for sure. He kind of gave me—he kind of did say he wants to fight me and the fight's gonna happen one day."

But that fight won't happen if Khan loses to Collazo. It's difficult to say exactly what chance there is that Collazo repeats the trick from the Ortiz fight against Khan, but it's certainly not zero—and it's much too high relative to the boost Khan would receive for beating Collazo.

Khan has looked vulnerable in his last four fights, and whilst Collazo has not historically been a big puncher, the fact he had enough power to stop Ortiz suggests he has the power to stop Khan.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - APRIL 27: Amir Khan is knocked down by Julio Diaz at Motorpoint Arena on April 27, 2013 in Sheffield, England. (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Prior to the Ortiz fight, Collazo could be dismissed as a guy who gave Hatton and Berto tough fights in his prime but had slipped from that peak—a marginal contender at best.

With the confident and clinical way he dismantled Ortiz, Collazo now looks like a guy who got the short end of the stick whilst making world-class guys look bad. Therefore, he became avoided and was denied the opportunities his ability perhaps merited.

Maybe he then fell out of love with the sport a bit—it would be understandable—but eventually his stock dropped enough that people thought Ortiz would walk through him. And so he returned to the big stagerefreshed, rejuvenated and still only 32 years old.

There is, however, a competing narrative. That says that Ortiz, always an unpredictable character, simply didn't have the heart for boxing anymore. After having had his jaw broken in his previous fight with Josesito Lopez, he might have called it a day against Collazo at the first sign of trouble.

If Ortiz was finished, then maybe Collazo proved nothing, and maybe Khan has an easy night coming up. But if Khan wins comfortably, he won't get any credit for beating Collazo. The Ortiz win will be dismissed, and Collazo will once again be a guy with no world-level wins who was over the hill anyway.

Khan wants to fight Mayweather and thinks being on the Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana bill will help, which is probably true, but Collazo is not a big enough scalp to force that fight. Only Khan's most blinkered fans could claim a win over Collazo means he would deserve the Mayweather payday.

Mayweather is expected to fight again in September, but Khan probably couldn't make such a date because Ramadan (which ends this year on 27 July) would impact his training camp.

If Khan is going to wait until next year for Mayweather, he runs the same risk as what happened when Maidana took the chance from him for this date by pulling the upset in a feature bout against Adrien Broner.

It would only take one big performance for another contender to leapfrog Khan in the Mayweather stakes, especially if Khan's best recent win is Collazo.

Meanwhile, he has declined to follow up Eddie Hearn's $5 million offer to fight unbeaten welterweight Kell Brook in England. When you consider that Khan will earn $1.5 million tops for Collazo, that's a decision that doesn't quite add up.

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20:  Kell Brook celebrates his victory over Hector Saldivia with Eddie Hearn during their IBF Welterweight Title Eliminator fight on October 20, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  (Photo by Scott Heavey/Getty Images)
Scott Heavey/Getty Images

Khan may be looking at the Mayweather fight as a final cash-out from the sport, but when you consider how tough a bargain Mayweather strikes—Robert Guerrero was only guaranteed $3 million plus a small revenue share—Khan might earn less than $10 million for the big one.

Quite clearly he doesn't think he's on the slide, even despite the mounting evidence from his recent performances, but he would have been wise to take the Brook money whilst it's available.

A loss to either Brook or Collazo would be career-threatening for Khan, but Brook is clearly much better money and perhaps only a slightly tougher opponent. If Khan really is a viable Mayweather opponent, neither Brook nor Collazo should trouble him.

Frankly, however, you have to wonder if Khan has much left. He is only 27, but that's not young for someone who relies so heavily on speed. Danny Garcia was able to time and stop him, and if Julio Diaz had real power, he might have done so too in Khan's last fight 11 months ago.

Eric Jamison/Associated Press

Even if Khan beats Collazo, he might lose the Brook payday if the Sheffield fighter suffers a first defeat in his upcoming world-title fight against the winner of Shawn Porter vs. Paulie Malignaggi. Brook is simply not a pay-per-view fighter in the U.K. if he can't get past the better of those two.

Overall, if Khan wanted a good payday, Brook was by far his best option and the best option in terms of risk against reward as well.

If he wanted to force a fight with Mayweather, he needed a bigger-name opponent than Collazo: a Guerrero or Broner.

If he wanted an easy night's work to put him back in the spotlight, he could have targeted a rematch with Malignaggi or another light puncher such as the European champion Leonard Bundu.

Collazo ticks none of those boxes. Khan may have been told by the Mayweather camp that a win over Collazo will get him the Floyd fight, but he has been led down the garden path by them before and can't seriously trust their word.

Khan should beat Collazo and may well get the Mayweather bout, but when a loss to Collazo would be career-threatening and there is $5 million on the table to face Brook, Khan is taking a crazy risk with this fight.


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