Thurman vs Collazo: What’s The Point?

The most difficult challenge one encounters when trying to write about a PBC card is resisting the temptation to discuss all the associated politics and machinations. This Saturday’s welterweight bout between Keith Thurman and Luis Collazo makes that task almost impossible, frankly because the main event seems so irrelevant and predictable on paper that there’s not much to say about it. If an interesting boxing match is only so if it carries the promise of conflict and the threat of an unexpected resolution, then Thurman vs Collazo falls spectacularly short of that standard.

That is largely because of what Thurman’s ring exploits, limited as they are, have demonstrated about his prowess. An undefeated welterweight with 21 knockouts in 25 victories, “One Time” Thurman offers fans on both sides of the aisle at the temple of The Sweet Science something to wonder at. His nimble feet and sharp mind make him a more than competent boxer, but his explosive fists are what usually close the show. Emphatic victories over Diego Chaves, Jesus Soto Karass and Robert Guerrero proved his talent and his versatility and bolstered his case as an elite welterweight, if not one of the most gifted boxers in the game today.

Will Thurman come calling for that WBO belt?
Thurman’s last outing: a points win over Robert Guerrero

What’s frustrating is that such a case will remain inconclusive for the time being, since disposing of Luis Collazo—a 34-year-old southpaw one fight removed from a virtual shutout against Amir Khan—will tell us nothing we don’t already know about Thurman. No disrespect to Collazo, but facts are facts. His biggest career performance is either a second-round KO of a post-Mayweather-meltdown Victor Ortiz, or a dubious points loss to Andre Berto. Even putting that aside, it’s hard to tell how exactly Collazo could threaten Keith, as he’s never shown consistent knockout power, or the kind of relentless aggression that could test his opponent’s mettle.

So you can be excused for concluding Thurman vs Collazo is not a very good matchup, something which the twitterverse almost instantly agreed on the moment the fight was announced. Incidentally, that’s a feeling that “One Time” himself shares, as he disappointedly acknowledged that Collazo’s name was the only one offered him by Al Haymon if he wanted to see action during the summer. Seeing the risk of a prolonged period of inactivity should he veto the match, Thurman instead jumped at the chance to headline a card in his home state to be broadcast on free TV.

Collazo's biggest win: a quick KO of Victor Ortiz.
Collazo’s biggest win: a quick KO of Victor Ortiz.

And who can blame him? While it’s true lots of people are in the process of suing Al Haymon and his PBC business, his fighters are definitely not part of that mob. This is because no matter what laws and regulations Mr. Haymon may be flouting, the one thing he’s never accused of doing is underpaying his charges. If anything, one could easily argue Haymon-affiliated fighters are overpaid, especially when taking into consideration the risk factor involved in his matchmaking, where the A-side and the B-side are always very easy to distinguish.

And such is the case this Saturday, with Thurman playing the role of the young, rising star, fighting in front of a home crowd and headlining his second PBC event. As the star of the show, all Thurman has left to do is take care of business against Collazo. And it would be tempting to interject here that bigger and better things await Thurman once he clears this weekend’s less-than-daunting hurdle. But given Haymon’s history of matchmaking, it’s hard to say whether that’s actually the case for Thurman, whose recent comments hint at frustration at the fact he’s unable to secure truly meaningful fights.

Thurman’s case, specifically, speaks to a key issue in Haymon’s plan to dominate boxing, one which could significantly hamper his efforts to gain new converts to the sport. If an elite boxer like Thurman is not competing in order to go on to dominate his division, then what is he doing? What’s it all about? If new fans are expected to tune in regularly to boxing shows, they’re going to have to be lured by a very basic premise: competition. And if those new fans know little about boxing but are intrigued by PBC, the first questions that pop into their minds will be: Who is the champion? and Who can beat the champion?

Keith Thurman
Thurman has the potential to be a dominant champion. Will PBC let that happen?

But the PBC universe, as mandated by its business plan, exists on a plane of its own, separate from non-Haymon-affiliated boxers and promoters, and thus negates the existence of champions outside its own boundaries. Fans who pay regular attention to boxing know this to be bullshit of the highest order, but Haymon is not trying to court those who are already watching; he’s trying to appeal to those who haven’t paid attention to boxing in decades, if ever. And those poor souls don’t know any better either, which can work great for Haymon and his backers, but only for so long. Because the truth is that unless PBC starts putting some context around its fighters’ careers and finding a narrative that unifies its broadcasts, all the marketing dollars and production muscle in the world won’t turn crappy matchmaking into anything resembling a money-making machine.

Fans of the sport, old and new, better hope Haymon’s plan involves more than just developing a bunch of A-sides with nowhere to go. Otherwise, our Saturdays threaten to offer little more than irrelevant mismatches, glitzy graphics, and a healthy dose of nostalgia for the good old days before Mr. Haymon came around.      — Rafael Garcia

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2 thoughts on “Thurman vs Collazo: What’s The Point?

  • July 12, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I guess this fight had more of a point to it after all. I feel Thurman’s short coming were again brought to light. He’s vulnerable and I do not feel he’s primed to absorb as much punishment as others, we’ve seen him hurt to the head and body by guys who are either past their primes or C-Level in the first place.

    I think we’re also seeing that his power is not quite as cracked up to being. Yes he hits hard, but he’s hardly the Julian Jackson type puncher he was billed to be. When he shortens his punches and/or looks to pot shot with counters, he’s not as power as when he wings his punches as he’s able to get more leverage that way.

    I also question his obvious tactical shift to being more cautious and frankly running. Maybe he’s not built to exert himself for 3 minutes a round? I don’t know, but he seems to be more willing to run and prevent his opponent from engaging (without firing back himself) now than he used to be. Ironically I think these tactics allow his opponent to get in on him a bit more, as Collazo did in round 5.

    • July 20, 2015 at 2:42 pm

      Hi Wayne,

      Thanks for reading, and sorry for the late reply.

      I can see why people say Thurman looked less than spectacular, but to be fair, anyone can get caught by a hard shot in any given fight. Other than that thudding liver shot and its immediate aftermath, I didn’t see Collazo posing much of a threat. It’s also hard to understand why Thurman’s not given credit for refusing to go down after getting hit with what was obviously a hurtful punch, and fighting his way back into the fight, eventually even earning the stoppage.

      Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, of course, and my own is that Thurman climbed into the ring not particularly motivated to fight a past-his-prime vet like Collazo. It’s no secret Thurman’s aching for big names, and I can only imagine how hard it must’ve been to get up and train during his camp for this fight. The truth is until Haymon decides to unleash Thurman against his other big name welterweights, Thurman’s going to have to keep facing B-level opponents, and the danger is one of them actually steps up to the challenge against a less-than-inspired Thurman and scores an upset. Will we ever see Thurman in the same ring as, say, Khan, Danny Garcia, Maidana or Porter? In Haymon we trust.

      However, I have to agree with your assessment of Thurman’s power. I don’t think of him as a KO artist, he’s more of a power puncher who will be more likely to score stoppages due to accumulation of punishment, rather than the “One Time” kind of KO his nickname evokes.


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