Keith Thurman stopped Luis Collazo at the USF Sun Dome in Tampa, Florida on Saturday on ESPN. (Getty)
The end came one second into the eighth round, with Collazo (36-7, 19 KOs) unable to continue the contest due to a gushing cut over his right eye incurred by an accidental headbutt in the sixth installment.
What was expected to be a one-sided showcase for the defending champ ended up a competitive and intriguing matchup, thanks to live dog Luis Collazo, who turned the pressure on young Keith Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) and even gave the up-and-comer some one of the scariest moments in his career when he almost knocked him down in the fifth round.
But Thurman’s power and movement kept the Clearwater native in control, breaking his opponent down, and earning Keith five out of the first seven rounds on my scorecard before the bout was stopped at the beginning of the eighth.
The fight began with the two fighters cautiously finding their distance and pacing with a getting-to-know-you opening round. Collazo worked the perimeter and a busy jab, Thurman stalked him from the center of the ring and targeted Luis’s body.
The pace picked up going into the second round– with Thurman on hunt, pressuring Luis against the ropes, and Collazo keeping the champ back with his jab.
A role swap in third round put Thurman leading on the back foot with Collazo now following and pressuring with his jab. Thurman moved well, worked the ring and landed with variety, and Collazo kept sticking him. More of the same followed in the fourth installment.
Then things got interesting in fifth frame. The round began with Thurman unloading a solid combination on Collazo and getting right to work, circling the ring and leading a jabbing Collazo.
With the round winding down, a Collazo right hook found Thurman’s body, and the following left to the liver doubled the champ over in pain. Thurman looked ready to taste the mat for the first time in his career. But he somehow held on for dear life and was lucky to see the end of the round on his feet. Watch:
Collazo came out hot in the sixth, looking to continue the punishment on a still-hurting Thurman. Thurman kept his distance for the round but started landing well to the body near as the round reach the end.
A reinvigorated Thurman was looking to fight in the last full round. Luis, worked his jab and kept the distance, but angry Thurman’s assault to the body was taking its toll.
In between the seventh and eighth rounds, Collazo told his trainer that he not see because of the blood dripping into his eye, and the ref stopped the fight a second into the eighth.
“Luis Collazo, I want to give it up to him, all respect,” Thurman said. “He’s a great veteran. He came and he caught me with a great body shot, but I endured it like a champion does. We didn’t go down, and we kept going. We kept picking our shots, giving him a little bit of power each and every round, and we broke him down.”
Thurman, 26 years old, had last been in action in March with a decision victory over grinder Robert Guerrero. Prior to the Guerrero fight, Thurman had outpointed Sierra Leonean Leoneard Bundu and stopped Julio Diaz.
Former welterweight world champ Luis Collazo was coming off an April victory over fringe prospect Christopher Degollado. Southpaw Collazo’s most recent loss came at the hands of Amir Khan, by a unanimous decision defeat in May of 2014. Collazo’s past opponents include top-10’ers Shane Mosley, Ricky Hatton, Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto.
On the undercard: Willie Nelson knocked out Tony Harrison with a terrific right hand in the ninth installment of their 10-rounder.
Keith Thurman vs. Luis Collazo (scores are unofficial)
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Round 1: Collazo in red trunks; Thurman wears red, white, and blue. Collazo works out of a southpaw stance, they meet in the middle of the ring before Collazo takes to the perimeter and dances. Thurman charges. Thurman stalking Collazo on the ropes. Both observing. Left from Thurman to the body. Thurman touches with combination, Collazo holding him back with is jab. Middle of the ring, no Thurman stalking. Minute left. Thurman with hook, misses. Collazo jabbing and moving. Getting to know you round. Thurman. 10-9
Round 2: Thurman stalks a moving Collazo. Collazo in the corner, spins out, using his jab to keep Thurman back. Thurman pumping his jab. Thurman misses with 1-2. Stalking. Right Thurman to the body. Thurman landing with Collazo on the ropes. Left from Collazo to the head. Thurman with right. Left Thurman, then to the body. Thurman picking up pace. Right hook Collazo. Thurman lands to finish the round. 20-18 Thurman.
Round 3: Collazo comes out pumping the jab. Pushing Thurman back. Thurman now on the perimeter. Collazo with a busy jab. Misses with straight left. Thurman landing with variety to head and body. Still working the perimeter with Luis pressuring. Collazo to the body. Thurman with combo to head and body. Big left from Thurman during exchange. Good action. Right Thurman. Left hook then to the body from Thurman. Right to the body from Thurman. 30-27 Thurman
Round 4: Meet in the center of the ring. Left from Thurman. Good pace now. Thurman unloads with combo. Collazo 1-2. Three rights in a row from Thurman. Thurman works the perimeter. Left from Collazo to the bread basket. Thurman lands with right, then left- right. Collazo works the body in the Corner. Collazo pressing, and Thurman on the back foot and countering. Both land to the body. Nice right to the body from Thurman. Good stuff. 40-36 Thurman
Round 5: Back to the center. Thurman unloads with awesome comb. Collazo covers up. Left from Collazo lands to the face. Right hook from Collazo. Thurman dancing, moving the ring, Collazo follows. Right from Thurman finds a face. Thurman dancing, lands some light jabs. Collazo follows. Thurman right hand. Collazo with left to the body. Nice right hook from Collazo to the body. A left to the body from Collazo hurt Thurman. Thurman holds on and survives the round. 49-46 Thurman
Round 6: Thurman in perimeter, pumping the jab. Right to the body Collazo. Now Collazo has a target. 1-2 from Thurman. Thurman showing more respect as he moves. Luis more confident. Right from Thurman to the body. Big right from Thurman to the head. Left hook, Thurman. Collazo to the body. Collazo, straight left. Thurman moving, Collazo follows. Right from Thurman hurts Collazo. 58-56 Thurman
Round 7: Second half of the fight. Right from Thurman. Another. Thurman with combo. Collazo coming in behind the jab. Right from Thurman touches Luis. Left hook, Thurman. Then a right. Thurman misses with two big rights. Collazo, a left to the body. Thurman, right to the body, then left to the head. Right to the body from Thurman. Thurman to the body and head. 68-65 Thurman
Round 8: Collazo has a nasty cut over his right eye. Fight is over! Collazo says he can’t see on account of his eye. Standby…
Thurman wins! The referee waves off the fight one second into the eighth round after Collazo says he can’t continue due to a cut over his right eye.