Events at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY build up nicely for the shortened main event. First Gary “Mr” Russell, Jr. 24-0-0 (KO 14) proved he is better than most even when he’s not feeling well. He let that slip at the pre-fight meeting with the media. Any questions Fox Sports1 announcers Barry Tompkins, Paulie Malignaggi and Bernard Hopkins about how he would perform were quickly answered. Gary demonstrated he is deserving of serious consideration in the feather and super featherweight divisions by making short work of veteran Miguel “Yaqui” Tamyo. 15-8-2 (KO13) Russell gave up height and reach, but you wouldn’t know it.
He is so smooth and such a good manager of distance that he seems always to be in range, that and the fact that Yaqui cooperated as well. Unfortunately for him, it really didn’t matter whether he tried to be aggressive, either at short range or from a distance. For Gary, Yaqui was always within range. His speed, power and accuracy were just too much for Yaqui. He would try to block the shots and counter, but it was quickly apparent he was getting beat down. Any superlatives have to be gauged by the fact that Yaqui lost three out of his last four fights, two by stoppage, so that’s taints Gary’s fourth round kayo of Yaqui somewhat. Malignaggi pointed out Gary needs to have this type of showing against a top level opponent to really establish his true worth.
Two undefeated light middleweights met In the semi-main event. Hard punching Eddie “Eboy” Gomez 16-0-0 (KO 10) beat out a UD over the taller Daquan Arnett to hand him his first defeat 11-1-0 (KO 7). Arnett was down in the seventh after absorbing two rights and a left to the body. Hard to tell for sure which punch did the most damage. Arnett beat the count and wisely grabbed hold of Gomez and held on tight until his head cleared. He should come out of his first defeat still confident. After viewing film of his first loss, he will see that he was sharp, had good balance and did box well both inside and at distance, but his accuracy needs to be improved. He missed too many times, especially counters. Missing wasn’t so much because of what Gomez did, but more so from what he didn’t do. He needs better focus. Even though the decision was unanimous, the fight was competitive, and both fighters will be heard from again.
In the main event between “Vicious” Victor Ortiz 29-5-2 (KO 22) and Luis Collazo 35-5-0 (KO 18) at the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NJ, everyone expected quick answers to questions about “Vicious” Victor Ortiz’s comeback due to a long lay off and recuperation from a badly broken jaw. He suffered that injury in his ninth round RTD to Josesito Lopez back in June of 2012 at the Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA. Ortiz said he was completely healed from the injury and not worried about his jaw in the least. Concerning the long lay off, he said he never really left the gym. He continued to workout and stay in shape, and began sparring as soon as possible He claimed his jaw didn’t bother him in the least. Paulie Malignaggi pointed out the obvious in that sparring wasn’t fighting. There’s no head gear, and you’re wearing 8oz gloves.
Collazo has been on the edge, not getting the big fights on the big stage. His record doesn’t really tell the story. It’s deceptive, because he has two questionable decision losses, one to Andre Berto and another to Ricky Hatton,. Even his loss to Freddy Hernandez 2011-10-15 might have been a win if it wasn’t for one body shot that put him down in the eighth round. Knowledgeable fight fans have alway felt he was a better fighter than his record showed. Thursday night, he planned to set the record straight and prove his real worth by beating the hard punching Ortiz. The Brookly born Collazo elopedvery emotional, grateful for the tremendous ovation he received as he walked to the ring. . He was warmed up and confident. Sometimes it’s not a good thing when a fighter fights in his hometown. Fighters sometimes want so much to impress their fans, that they try too hard, take unnecessary chances. They come off looking bad. But, that didn’t seem to be the case with Collazo. When the opening bell sounded, the slick Collazo easily avoided Ortiz’s opening shots. He is an excellent boxer, who slips and slides, counters, moves off to one side or the other, making it difficult for his opponent to land. Against Ortiz, he anticipated Ortiz’ wish to step in, hoping to get the right distance to throw a combination. Almost as if he read Ortiz’ mind, Collazo would take a half step back and give Ortiz’ punches the air. Initially, Ortiz had on his best fight face coming into the ring, it quickly changed and his features softened into self doubt. When Ortiz’ Plan A quickly dissolved, he didn’t have a Plan B to go to. What Ortiz really needed was an easier opponent, one that would not be so elusive, one that he could walk through and regain his confidence. Collazo definitely was not that guy.
At 2:59 of the second round. Ortiz tried a combination. He started with a right hook, followed by a hard straight left. The punch missed Collazo’s jaw and landed with a thud against his collar bone. Ortiz’ follow through caused him to get off balance, and he had to kind of reload to through another right hook. He started the hook, but it was a looping one, and Collazo let go of his own short compact right hook. His hook beat Ortiz’ and crashed against Victor’s suspect chin. Ortiz was visibly hurt and he turned toward the ropes, as his knees started to buckle. Collazo through and missed with a long left, and then he bounced a right high up on the right side of Victor’s head. Victor was now down, and referee Benjy Estevez, Jr. moved in to pick up the count. Ortiz didn’t look like he was out, but his expression told you he wasn’t interested in trying to beat the count. He desire to continue the fight was gone, as well as his chance of climbing back into the title picture. On the other hand, Collazo knew what it meant to come away with such a dramatic win. After wiping away the tears of joy, he thanked God and his fans, and then called out Floyd Mayweather, Jr. As Money says, they all know they will get their biggest payday if the can get him into the ring.
You have to be happy for Collazo. He never gave up on himself, even when he had some bad breaks. In addition to the questionable decisions that went against him, he apparently had some managerial problems. For some fighters, those things might have ended in retirement, but the 32 yr old wizard can still conjure up a little magic (sorry Paulie). For his sake, let’s hope he gets his wish for a big fight.
For Victor, his big chance is probably gone, as well as his credibility. No matter what excuse he gives, it will lack credence. The trust or belief in this 27 yr old (DOB 1-31-1987) has dissipated by his own hand. It isn’t so much because of what others have done, it’s what he’s done or neglected to do. His infamous comments after the sixth round TKO loss to Marcos Maidana will once again haunt him. To paraphrase, in the post-fight interview he said he didn’t deserve the beating he took, and it sounded like he was going to give up fight. Well, at 2:59 of the second round against Luis Collazo in the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY, he once again gave up fighting. It was a conscious decision. He carefully listened to the referee, and waited until the count of ten was reached before attempting to rise. He appeared to be cognizant, fully aware of the choice he was making. It was a bad choice and one fans won’t soon forget. Does this black mark spell the end of once champion “Vicious” Victor Ortiz? Apparently Oscar De La Hoya thinks so. Can Victor start his climb once again? In the post fight, according to Golden Boy Promotions, Ortiz said “I’m good. I got caught. No big deal. It happens. I put my heart out there!” Age is on his side, but is there really any self-confidence left in him? Talk is one thing, but he needs to convince himself that maybe it was a mistake putting him in with such a tough fighter as Collazo after a 19 month layoff. With perfect hindsight, he should have been eased back in with a tune-up or two, to restore belief in himself, as well as to sharpen his reflexes, and toughen him up for the more serious competition. Now, he may never get the chance. It’s doubtful there’s much empathy out there for him. He’s had his chances. Now, it’s Luis Collzao’s time to quick the big fight. Who knows, maybe Money will grant him his wish in one of his few fights before retiring. Meanwhile, Luis has earned the right to be jubilant, swelled with happiness to know that he came through with a sensational 2nd Round KO in front of his hometown fans. As the oft used phrase says, “It doesn’t get any better than that!”