By Mark Villanueva
After months of preparation and a steady yet losing early couple of rounds, an invisible Luis Collazo started to emerge for the first time in the third round. He started to close the gap by cutting off the ring while his undefeated opponent, a power puncher and knockout artist, oddly enough, started to veer away to circle around the ring. He would come up with a number of combinations but the tide kept moving forward and he had to fight as he might never had to against Collazo, who could not be accused of not having fought the best opposition during his prime. Keith Thurman must have been glad to be fighting an older version of the fighter as he kept up a circuitous fray.
The former world champion kept pressing the action in the following round, hitting and not being bothered at all if he missed a punch or two, which showed the amount of energy he has in reserve and was willing to expend, that showed a glimpse of how hard he had trained. Luis Collazo’s tattoo covered body gleamed in the spotlight as it had when he became a champion a decade ago, saying something, roaring, wanting to be heard- as it had not been probably since he fought Ricky Hatton in 2006- a fight which in his mind he should have won. He planted a booming counter punch with his left hand that almost cut down Keith Thurman after an industrious work to the body.
Luis Collazo is now heard and seen, and it was an ominous sight.
Keith Thurman did not fare too well since Collazo had started to lobby his case but bravely fought even in backing up. It might not have made things easier for him knowing that he had so much to lose at this surging stage of his career. He knows he has the advantage in youth and brute strength but suddenly Collazo’s jabs started to find its target. Thurman was no longer as invincible as the media have painted him to be. He could also see that Collazo’s sharp cuts started to swell up his right eye.
The hardest punch is one you do not see. Luis Collazo fought by instinct, rhythm, with a limited view from his left. He could not see from his swollen right eye and dripping blood that seeped in and disrupted his sight. Volleys from the right flank were all ghost punches now and came harder than it normally does. Keith Thurman, who prides himself for his power, now capitalized on the situation with left hooks to Collazo’s head. The latter still tried to move forward and set up traps but has become an easier target and a tad slow to react to lateral movements, especially towards his blind side. It was all red darkness in the drowning din of the arena. Luck, if a man of faith ever believes in it, has ran out. His punches at certain angles were prayers that were responded to with hard combinations. It was all Keith “One Time” Thurman now in a slightly rejuvenated state.
By the end of the seventh round, when asked if he wanted to end the fight, Collazo responded “I can’t see…”
There were cheers and some that used to be for him had turned to boos as Keith Thurman celebrated his victory up on the ropes. They now say the fighter who could barely see his opponent was a quitter, although he had never quit in a fight before; even if he had fought Shane Mosley for twelve rounds with an injured left hand that required surgery afterward. He was no longer brave enough in just moments after he was actually winning it. The fifteen year stoical veteran who has always fought as a perennial underdog, whose resilience and integrity I would not question was once again becoming imperceptible.
“You fought well my friend. Chin up. I hope you’ll be okay soon.” I said.
“I’m sorry about the results.” replied a plaintive Luis.
“I suffered two bad cuts. I could not see in the last round from the right eye.”
I told him what many wanted to know. “People are saying you quit back there against Thurman. But I’ve never seen you quit before and that gives you integrity. It is for you and no one else. You don’t have to answer to that.”
But Luis Collazo answered anyway, albeit indirectly ” Yeah, hey! People are going to say what they want at the end of the day. It does not matter. I know who I am and what I represent.”
Life does not give favors even to good men. It does not matter if one has done much good one gets it just the same or even worse if you are mistaken. While a known criminal deserves a day in court, good men are ipso facto guilty until proven otherwise.
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