Luis Collazo stuns Jose Antonio Rivera

04.04.05 - By Mike Indri, Retired Boxers Foundation - While most boxing fans were able to watch the recent Eric Morales - Manny Pacquiao epic battle on HBO Pay-Per-View (Morales UD12 - 3/19/05), the Showtime Network decided not to televise the Jose Antonio Rivera vs. Luis Collazo WBA welterweight championship fight at the DCU Center in Rivera's hometown of Worcester, Ma. Not only was this error in judgement a mistake for the network, it was also a big loss for all boxing fans.

Making the first defense of his hard earned title, Rivera (photo by: Ed Mulholland) was coming home - fighting in front of his hometown fans, as a world champion. Rivera's own hand injury, the Ricardo Mayorga ordeal, and his scheduled opponent's (Thomas Damgaard) health problems, all contributed to a ring layoff of over 18 months for the full-time Worcester Juvenile Court officer.

With Damgaard, the # 1ranked WBA contender unable to fight, Brooklyn's Luis Collazo (24-1 with 11 KO's) was given the opportunity to fight for the championship - and just two weeks of time to prepare..

From round one's opening bell till the referee jumped in to seperate the two combatants ending round twelve, this championship fight gave the near capacity crowd so much more than anyone could have imagined.

As the champion went after the heavily-tattooed Collazo and aggressively worked the body early, the frenzied crowd - all 8,567 of them - deliriously rooted their hometown hero on. Constant chants of "Jose, Jose, Jose" rang through out the arena, as Rivera appeared solely intent on satisfying his fans by doing all he could to send the "Rivera faithful" home having witnessed a knockout.

Collazo, to his credit, boxed well and made Rivera pay when Jose loaded up on his punches. "I was brawling with him in rounds seven, eight and nine. Then I wanted to display my stick-and-move skills down the end," stated Collazo who added, "I won easy and the last two rounds I won big!" exclaimed the 23-year-old southpaw.

The middle rounds belonged to Collazo. Using his exceptional hand speed to his advantage, Colazzo often beat Rivera to the punch and his quickness enabled "Cobra" to avoid much of Rivera's relentless attack.

Rivera sensed an urgent need to get the job done down the stretch and did score effectively in the latter rounds. Showing his true champion heart, Rivera - with cuts over his nose and left eye as well as a lot of facial swelling - never took a backward step and connected with many of his better punches, also leaving Collazo badly bruised and cut.

In the end Rivera, now 37-4-1 (24 KO's), thought he had done enough to win. "He ran for 12 rounds, I pushed the whole fight. He got the split decision."

Two of the three judges disagreed with the easy-to-like Rivera. Judges Nelson Vasquez and Levi Martinez scored it 115-113 for Collazo. Judge Paul Barry, the lone Worcester judge, saw it 115-113 for Rivera.

The new WBA World Champion Luis Collazo went into the champion's hometown and came away with the title; exactly the same way Jose Rivera did on 9/13/2003 against then-world champion Michel Trabant, in Trabant's hometown of Berlin, Germany. Both these fighters are champions and fought the finest, incomparably most exciting fight (to date) of the year. No doubt the rematch will be televised live for all the boxing world to see!

As for Jose Rivera - he proved he is a fighter worthy of big-time television exposure. He also proved he is a fighter able to draw the big crowds. Jose Antonio Rivera drew a bigger crowd in his hometown then Bernard Hopkins did in Philadelphia, and bigger than Floyd Mayweather Jr. did is his homecoming in Michigan.

After last night's performance can you just imagine Collazo-Rivera II at Madison Square Garden!

And the Rivera vs. Collazo mega-brawl wasn't even the main event of Don King's promoted "Mass. Madness"!

While many of the Worcester crowd did leave disappointed following the loss of their beloved champion - choosing not to stay for the Braithwaite vs. Mormeck championship unification bout - should have disappointed them even more, once they realized the great fight that they missed.

WBC Cruiserweight Champion Wayne "Big Truck" Braithwaite ran into a bigger and stronger truck last night. France's Jean-Marc Mormeck, the WBA Champion, simply overpowered and out-slugged the previously undefeated Braithwaite (now 21-1 with 17 KO's) enroute to his twelve round unanimous decision victory over the Guyana native, who now calls Brooklyn, NY his home. Mormeck stalked Braithwaite from round one on, hurt his foe often and dropped Braithwaite to the canvas in round seven. While almost out on several occasions, Braithwaite earned the respect and admiration of the crowd who wondered how the "Big Truck" was still standing at the final bell.

Mormeck, now 31-2 (21 KO's) and with both the WBA and WBC belts, is a force to be reckoned with.

On the undercard.....

Roman Karmazin improved to 33-1-1 (21 KO's) with his twelve round majority decision victory over former two-time world champion Keith Holmes (39-4, 25 KO's) and put himself in line for a IBF Jr. Middleweight title shot.

Undefeated Cruiserweight contender Steve "U.S.S." Cunningham stayed perfect (17-0, 9 KO's) against a formidable Guillermo Jones, 31-3-2 with 24 KO's, earning a hard fought ten round split-decision victory.

Miguel Angel Rodriguez, the WBC's # 2 welterweight contender (26-1, 21 KO's) looked impressive in his fifth round TKO victory over Luis Maysonet, 32-10 with 25 KO's, from Hartford, CN.

Featherweight prospect Elio "Untouchable" Rojas dominated Angelo Torres, who dropped to 12-12-3 (# KO's). Rojas, who fights out of Brooklyn, NY is now 11-0 with 9 KO's.

The only black eye on this otherwise superlative Don King Productions fightcard, titled "Mass. Madness...A Night of Champions", was the night's opening bout. The MA. Boxing Commission may have dodged a bullet with their "madness" in sanctioning the bout between former world champion Lou Del Valle (now 35-3-1 with 22 KO's) and local Brockton fighter Dan Sheehan. How Sheehan, whose record dropped to 10-32 with only 4 KO's, was even granted a license is a question worth asking. Del Valle won the eight round contest via unanimous decision.

Even the torrential rain couldn't keep the giant-sized crowd away from the Worcester DCU Center; which is a wonderful fight venue - situated in downtown Worcester, MA., what we all found out, is a wonderful fight city.

*Photo Caption: World Champion Jose Rivera entering the ring prior to his battle with Luis
Collazo - notice the "RBF" patch Jose is wearing on his Everlast jacket!

Article posted on 04.04.2005

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