3 More Rounds

Thurman stops cagey Collazo in 7

Photos: Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

Photos: Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions

A pretty packed house of 4,136 fans gathered at the Sundome on the campus of the University of South Florida, to see the hometown favorite, Keith “One Time” Thurman (26-0-0-1, 22 KOs), take on Luis Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs) in the main event of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN. Thurman came out waving his arms as his hometown fans cheered wildly and started chants of “One time, one time…!”

In the first round, Thurman came out like he meant all business. He stalked the tentative Collazo around the ring and scored well with jabs to the body, and with single hard shots upstairs. That pattern continued in the second, with Thurman mixing in several hard combinations to the head. Collazo showed more confidence in the third round and turned into the aggressor, while still losing that round while getting beat to the punch on his way inside. Round 4 looked a lot like the previous stanza, though Collazo seemed to display a bit of confidence towards the end, because of his ability to take Thurman’s shots with his Brooklyn bred toughness. When the fifth started, Thurman seemingly tried to end things as he unleashed a vicious multi-punch combination. Collazo took the punches well, and continued pressing until giving Thurman a vicious left to the body that nearly sent Thurman to the canvas. Collazo was all over Thurman in the closing seconds. Thurman showed a lot of will to survive the round without going down, but he was badly hurt.

Luis Collazo

Round 6 started with the fans vocally nervous for the hometown fighter. Collazo stalked Thurman throughout the round, while Thurman seemed to protect his ribs from the previous round’s assault. Thurman didn’t open things up until the end of the round.

“I was trying to set up body shots any way I could,” said Collazo after the fight. “I saw him moving to the left and was trying to catch him just right. I wish I had more time in that round.”

At the halfway point of the bout, Thurman was at gut-check time.

“I felt good in there. I’ve been saying I’m an evolutionary fighter and I showed it tonight. I’ve always had power, but tonight was champ versus champ boxing,” said Thurman following the win. 

“He caught me with a left hook uppercut hybrid shot in the fifth and knocked out almost all of my wind. It was an excellent shot by Luis. I endured like a champion though.”

The most significant immediate development of the seventh round was the fact that Thurman turned the fight around in his favor by cutting Collazo’s right eye with what looked like a left hook. Thurman won the round, and won back momentum in the fight.

In between rounds, Collazo told his corner that he couldn’t see due to the cut and his corner opted to stop the fight. “I can’t see,” complained Collazo. After being asked numerous times by his trainer if he wanted to continue, he again said he couldn’t see and complained, “so what’s the point.”

“We want anybody that we can get at the top of the welterweight division; Mayweather, Pacquiao, Porter, Khan, Bradley, Maidana,” added Thurman after the stoppage.

Nelson_Harrison3

In the co-feature, the charismatic Detroit native, Tony Harrison (21-1, 18 KOs) faced his most accomplished opponent to date, the 6’3” Willie Nelson (24-2-1, 14 KOs), out of Cleveland, Ohio in a junior middleweight contest. This latest installment of the Buckeye v. Wolverine rivalry didn’t quite live up to the action packed shoot-out that was expected, but boy did it end in dramatic fashion.

Harrison looked a tad nervous between the point of the referee instructions and the opening bell, but he fought a relaxed and composed first round, where he consistently beat Nelson to the punch. By the end of round 2, the two fighters began to engage in the aggressive exchanges from close quarters, as was expected between these combatants. However, the action didn’t last long because the next several rounds were fought at a measured pace in front of the restless and booing crowd.

Harrison_down_Nelson

In the eighth round, things started to pick up a little more, because Nelson was more aggressive; perhaps remembering his plans about taking advantage of his experience in “deep waters.” Harrison came back nicely in the next round with good movement and combination punches, until- Boom!   Nelson hurt Harrison with a big right hand to the temple towards the end of the ninth round, and badly staggered him. Nelson quickly followed up with a flurry and Harrison collapsed to the canvas. Harrison was clearly hurt and barely beat the count. The referee did not like the looks of the still woozy Harrison and he waved off the bout, giving a TKO upset victory for Willie Nelson. It was a very good stoppage, because Harrison did not look steady on his feet at all. For Nelson, this is a huge win. He expressed a great deal of frustration during fight week, because of what he perceived as a lack of respect. He can now start calling out other young guns in the division, with added confidence.

This result is a huge setback for Tony Harrison, however. At the time of the stoppage, the scores were in Harrison’s favor 87-83 and 86-84, but with one judge surprisingly having it scored even at 85-85. Harrison was off balance and standing in a recklessly amateurish stance, at the point where the veteran Nelson cracked him right upside the head. It will be interesting to see if Harrison’s team can rebuild his confidence and put his career back on track in the not too distant future. This fight is a friendly reminder that anything can happen in a ring, when two grown men square off for the purposes of punching each other in the face.

By the end of the night, the crowd seemed to really enjoy the show, but there was a bit of confusion going on through the arena, due to the bizarre ending of the main event. This was an exciting night for Tampa area boxing. You can tell by the energy and passion from the crowd, that there is a thirst for more boxing. Also, tonight was a mighty fine return for ESPN. It’s good to see that the network with continue to supply high quality boxing programming for years to come.

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