Khan controlled the fight from the start, handing Collazo his sixth loss.
There was a moment late in the fight when it looked like Luis Collazo had a shot. By the eighth round he knew he could only win by knock out so he let his hands go and caught Amir Khan with a left hook that staggered him.
As the ninth began, Khan was on the defensive, avoiding the exchanges as Collazo stalked him around the ring. Khan had been masterful for the first seven rounds, aggressive but precise, landing power punches with ease and gliding away before Collazo could return fire. But now Khan seemed winded, or satisfied, or perhaps just very cautious.
Then in the tenth round, Khan knocked Collazo down twice. The fight went all 12 rounds and Khan won in a one-sided unanimous decision.
Collazo, a Bushwick, Brooklyn native, is not a fast fighter. He wins with technique, smart movement and strong counter-punches. But he is not particularly slow-footed either. On Saturday, Khan made him appear slow-footed. Khan controlled the fight from the beginning, launching quick flurries to the body and the head. Through the first two rounds he landed 49 punches to Collazo’s 14. In the third, he dropped Collazo the canvas with a right hand.
Khan (29-3) has had a bad habit of carelessness, happy to turn bouts into toe-to-toe brawls rather than use his superior speed to pick his spots. Against Collazo, he used his speed and picked his spots. The evolution reflected his time under Virgil Hunter, a technical guru from Oakland who has served as Khan’s trainer over the past year or so.
“When I first joined forces with him, he said to me ‘Amir, you are a great boxer, but you don’t understand the sport of boxing,'” Khan told reporters after the fight. “But in the last twelve months Virgil has taught me a lot. That period has made me more mature, made me understand the sport of boxing. It all comes down to experience. It’s what I should have been doing, looking back.”
For Collazo (35-6), this evolved version of Khan was a troublesome match-up. While Collazo stayed on the offensive throughout the fight, continuously trudging forward, he was unable land a sustained attack. When the space between them closed, Khan blasted away. But by the time Collazo was cocked back to throw a counter-hook, Khan was gone.
The scorecards were lopsided: 119-104, 119-104 and 117-106. The defeat snuffs out Collazo’s swift rise back toward championship contention. A former welterweight titlist, Collazo’s time as a relevant prizefighter seemed over just two years ago, after he lost four of nine bouts, including three losses with a championship at stake.
Then he won his next four fights, including a stunning second round knock out of Victor Ortiz in January. The impressive win pushed him back onto boxing’s main stage. Golden Boy Promotions billed his bout with Khan as the “co-feature” of the Floyd Mayweather Jr-Marcos Maidana pay-per-view card.
At 33, Collazo knew that this might be his final sprint for the top. Before the fight, he said, “I believe if I beat Amir Khan, I have a bigger future in boxing and if I don’t, I have to start from the bottom again.”