Luis Collazo believes he has one major advantage over Amir Khan when they meet on the undercard of the Floyd Mayweather, Jr.-Marcos Maidana welterweight title match in Las Vegas on May 3.
“He’s looking past me. He’s looking all over there and all up in the sky,’’ Collazo said. “But I’m looking right at him.’’
Collazo and Khan are being showcased as the co-feature of the main event with the thinking that the winner will get the next shot at Mayweather. A fight with Mayweather, the best boxer in the sport and the biggest moneymaker, is like winning the lottery for most fighters. Collazo believes Khan has his eye on that golden ticket and he is not concentrating on him. That is a mistake.
“When Khan looks across the ring, he isn't going to see Floyd Mayweather. He is going to see Luis Collazo. I am the best,’’ Collazo said.
Collazo has launched the element of surprise on previous opponents. He out-boxed Ricky Hatton and Andre Berto, but didn’t get the decision. In his most recent fight against Victor Ortiz he didn’t leave the decision up to the judges. Collazo knocked out Ortiz. He believes he was able to do that because Ortiz took him lightly.
While Collazo is concentrating on Khan, he realizes that he is in a prime position for greater things ahead.
"This fight [against Khan] is my whole career right in front of me,’’ Collazo said. “I believe if I beat Amir Khan I have a bigger future in boxing and if I don't, I have to start from the bottom again.’’
The Brooklyn-born welterweight knows all about being at the top and the bottom. He was on top of the world when he defeated Jose Antonio Rivera on a hard-fought 12-round split decision to win his first world title. Collazo traveled to Rivera’s hometown of Worchester, Mass., and had to fight in front of a hostile crowd and overcome injuries in the ring to take the WBA crown.
"Fighting for my first title was my hardest fight. I came out of it with a fractured rib,’’ he said. “The last three rounds I was exhausted, but I gave it my all and I made sure that I left everything I ever fought for in that ring.’’
In his very next fight he lost a controversial split decision to Hatton and had to wait another year to get another shot. He lost a lopsided decision to Shane Mosley for the WBC crown in 2007. He dropped into a deep depression after the fight and wondered whether he even wanted to keep boxing.
Collazo turned 33-years-old on Tuesday and his promoters at Golden Boy Promotions held a birthday celebration for him at a restaurant in midtown Manhattan. It was an opportunity for Collazo to reflect on his career and where he stands right now.
"We are supposed to go through trials and tribulations. That is what shapes our personality,’’ Collazo said.
His new found spirituality has given Collazo a peace that he never knew before and he believes it is why he has landed in the position to fight Khan on one of the biggest stages in boxing this year.
“Back then, I was giving glory to myself, but now I give all glory to God,’’ Collazo said. “Wherever I go today is because of Him. Before I was on my time, now I'm on God's time and I believe that God has given me the motivation to perform the way I'm performing. I'm going to keep performing at the elite level.’’
Collazo isn’t sure that will put him in a high-profile, high-stakes match against Mayweather. He said he can’t really allow himself to think that far ahead.
"A win over Khan does put me in the Mayweather sweepstakes, but my sights are set on Khan,’’ Collazo said. "I hope Khan is ready on May 3 to fight me, not someone else. It's going to be an explosive night not just for me, but for the boxing fans in general.’’