Collazo Steps In For Damgaard To Face Rivera

17.03.05 - Highly ranked contender Luis Collazo has agreed to step into a world title fight against World Boxing Association welterweight champion Jose Antonio Rivera on April 2 at the DCU Center. Rivera’s scheduled opponent was forced to withdraw after developing an “infectious respiratory tract disease, with symptoms of pneumonia” according to a written report by an attending physician..

Rivera (37-3-1, 24 KOs) was to have met undefeated No. 1 mandatory contender Thomas “Lionheart” Damgaard (34-0, 26 KOs), who recently became ill while training in his native Denmark. This is the third time Rivera and Damgaard had been scheduled to meet. The match was postponed twice last year at Madison Square Garden, once due to the death of Damgaard’s father, which postponed their April 17 bout, and for a second time on Oct. 2 after Rivera suffered a hand injury.

Former unified world welterweight champion Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga stepped up to face Rivera on April 17, but Mayorga was unable to make the 147-pound weight limit, so the match was canceled.

Collazo (24-1, 11 KOs), from Brooklyn, N.Y., is a southpaw with a straightforward, exciting style. He floored highly regarded Felix Flores twice and won a unanimous decision at Madison Square Garden on Oct. 2.

“I was willing to fight Rivera when Mayorga didn’t make weight last year at the Garden but it didn’t happen,” Collazo said. “This is a fight I have wanted for a long time. All I asked for is an opportunity and now I’ve got it. I hate to disappoint all of Rivera’s fans in Worcester, but it’s Collazo time. I’m going to win and be the new WBA welterweight champ.”

Don King Productions Vice President of Boxing Operations Bob Goodman said it would be a mistake for Rivera to overlook Collazo.

“Luis stands right in front of you and comes to fight,” Goodman said. “It’s important for Jose Rivera to stay focused as Collazo is a serious contender. Rivera does not want to underestimate him for coming in late. Collazo has every intention of arriving in Rivera’s hometown to relieve him of his title.”

Rivera seemed unfazed by the news of Damgaard’s illness.

“I am 100-percent ready to go on April 2 no matter who the opponent is,” Rivera said. “I just want to fight. It seems like the Damgaard match was never meant to be.”

Rivera became world champion by winning a majority decision over Michel Trabant in Berlin, Germany, on Sept. 13, 2003.

Both Rivera and Collazo were born in America and attribute much of their ring prowess to their boxing-rich Puerto Rican ancestry. Rivera has lived in Worcester since he was 16.

Article posted on 17.03.2005

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