In the debut of Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN, there was no need for scorecards nor judges. The end results were determined by the fighters.
In the main event defending WBA Welterweight Champion of the world Keith Thurman faced off against world class veteran Luis Collazo. Starting off, Collazo attempted to use angles and movement to offset Thurman who was trying to press the action and impose his will on Collazo. While Collazo had his moments Thurman was clearly landing the more effective shots both to the body and the head in the early going. Around the 3rd round Thurman started allowing Collazo to be the aggressor while he focused more on movement and countering in flurries effectively which caused Collazo’s left eye to swell.
In the 5th round Thurman seemed to have control of the fight until with 35 seconds left in the round Collazo hit him with a nasty body shot that stopped Thurman in his tracks. Collazo then followed that up moments later with another left hand to the body that left Thurman reeling and having to hold on. The bell that sounded to end to the 5th round might have just been Thurman’s saving grace.
The 6th round started with Thurman still trying to recover from the 5th round and trying to defend himself intelligently against Collazo’s oncoming attack. Thurman, starting to get his legs back, finally started to go on the attack late in the 6th round cutting Collazo open around his right eye sending blood streaming down his face as the round ended. In the 7th round Thurman was on the attack painting Collazo with left and right hands doing even more damage to both of Collazo’s eyes as blood continued to stream down the right side of Collazo’s face. By the time the round was over Collazo sat on his stool looking like a battered and beaten man. With Collazo not able to see out of his right eye due to the blood, his corner called a halt to the action with the official result being a TKO corner retirement at 2:59 of round 7.
The winner and still WBA Welterweight Champion is Keith Thurman. Scorecards were 69-64, 68-65 and 69-64 all in favor of Keith Thurman at the time of the stoppage.
Post fight Press Conference Quotes from Thurman and Collazo
Keith Thurman: “He hit me with a slight left hook, slight uppercut from the southpaw position. I was extended and my elbow wasn’t able to come back on time to block the shot. So, I was reaching out and it really got right underneath there. Right in the perfect spot. I would say 95% of my wind was gone. But with 5% it went to my brain. I thought about taking a knee. But the champion that I am, as soon as I heard it say that you might want to take a knee some other voice in my head (Ben Getty) said you are stronger than that boy and you can keep fighting. I kept fighting, he came back and hit me with another one and I felt both of them and it hurt again. Mike Tyson called this sport the pain game and sometimes you have to give a little and you take a little. I took a little that round but I gave a lot more. I endured, I protected myself, I tried to hold on a little bit. Holding is not one of my favorite to do tactics but when it is necessary it is necessary and we survived that round. We recovered, we used a portion of the next round to fully recover, we boxed smart and we got the TKO victory “
Luis Collazo: “I’m grateful for this opportunity and as I first said at the press conference before I didn’t come for any handouts. Due to the cut I couldn’t see anymore and I didn’t want to risk doing anymore damage to my eye. I have two cuts and I am the type of fighter that wants to keep going but I do want to fight again. This just gives me more motivation. I just have to go back to the drawing board , take some time off, and then get back at it.
In the co-main event of the evening in a Super Welterweight match up, Willie Nelson was matched up against rising prospect Tony Harrison. Willie Nelson, who has been known to upset a prospect or 2 (Jackson and Jhonson) was looking to try to repeat history on this night.
From the starting bell the 24 year old Harrison looked to earn Nelson’s respect through crisp combination punching and slick counters. Harrison was throwing 3 jabs for every jab Nelson threw and he was looking to counter his taller opponent while also being the aggressor. Nelson was throwing his share of punches but he was getting in too close and smothering his reach not utilizing his height and size.
Mid rounds it looked like more of the same until Nelson made a major adjustment. He began to keep his distance and use his jab more from long range while fighting behind his shoulder defensively. Harrison seemed thrown off for a few rounds because of this and Nelson dictated the action. Harrison was still the aggressor but his pace was slowing down and Nelson was starting to find his range while also slipping off of Harrison’s power shots.
In the latter rounds, Harrison tried to switch up the pace and lay the pressure back on Nelson. Clearly seeking to end this fight with a spectacular win, Harrison began to take risks to try to get to Nelson’s chin. In round 8, both fighters landed nice shots but Harrison overall got the better of Nelson. In the 9th round once again it seemed as though Harrison was trying to come on until out of nowhere Nelson caught Harrison with a short, chopping, overhand right, followed by a left hook, and punctuated in combination with a final right hook that sent Harrison into the ropes and onto the canvas. Harrison was rocked and while he did beat the 10 count, when he rose to his feet he stumbled into the corner with his back turned to the referee so Frank Santore had no other option but to wave it off at 2:57 of the 9th round.
Your winner by way of TKO at 2:57 of the 9th round and still knocking off prospects, Willie Nelson. Tony Harrison was up on 2 out of the 3 judges scorecards at the time of the stoppage 87-83, 86-84 with one judge having it 85-85 both fighters even.
Post Fight Press Conference Quotes Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson: “My plan was to knock him out later on. That was my personal plan. Just take him into deep waters and drown him. Which is what I did do. Going into this fight I was very confident. With my punch ouput I just knew it was coming.. I just knew to wait until he was tired because you can only take so many shots when you are on shaky legs.”
Post Fight Press Conference Note: Tony Harrison did not attend the post fight press conference.
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