On October 15, 2011, Luis Collazo lost to Freddy Hernandez in a unanimous decision. At this point, his once-promising boxing career was in shatters. He’d become WBA World Welterweight Champion in 2005, at age 24, only to lose four of his next nine fights.
And the loss to Hernandez wasn’t even the worst of it. He had torn ligaments in his shoulder during the fight and he would not be able to box for at least another six month. He fell into a depression.
This is when the drinking problems began.
The depression continued even after he his shoulder healed, even after he returned to the ring to defeat Steve Chambers in October 2012.
Last year, his despair hit a nearly unbearable low, he explained at a pre-fight press conference in Las Vegas on Thursday.
“When I was younger I used to have guns in my house,” said Collazo, who grew up in Bushwick, Brooklyn. “In the last four years I moved and didn’t take them with me for some reason. I believe if I would have had them with me that night I would have done something. When you are drinking you think you are going to be in a different place.”
“People only see you when you are in the light, then you have to go home and face a regular lifestyle,” he continued. “I don’t like being in the spotlight, I like being around my family. I noticed when I was pulling away from them there was something wrong. For me to pull away from my daughters — they are my passion. And my wife was even scared to come home because she didn’t know the type of person she was going to come back to. And when she told me that, I just broke down crying. She didn’t want to see me like that.”
The night his life turned around began as just another night of sadness and drink, he recalled. Then, “I just asked God give me a sign: ‘If you can change my life over, I will give my life to you.’ The next day I woke up a totally different person. The hole I had in my heart was filled.”
Collazo won both his fights on 2013, earning himself a fight against Victor Ortiz in January. It was one of those fights promoters book to springboard a popular name back into championship contention. Ortiz was star while Collazo was mid-level fighter whose best days were behind him. But then Collazo dropped Ortiz in the second round.
Luis Collazo at a press conference in Las Vegas this week.
And now, less than three years after his career hit bottom, Collazo has surged back into that rarefied air of high-profile prizefighting. He will fight in the “co-feature” of this Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana pay-view view card. His opponent, Amir Khan, is a well-known former champion, beloved in his native England and respected everywhere else. The fight pits Collazo’s controlled footwork and counter-punching against Khan’s relentless freestyle slugging. The winner will likely become the leading candidate to fight the winner of the night’s main event.
“I have been so blessed,” Collazo said. “We go through trials and tribulations we think we can’t handle.”