NEW YORK — Luis Collazo has been at this for a long while, close to 20 years. And the southpaw welterweight from Brooklyn, New York continues to find ways to win.
After a little bit of a slow start, Collazo found the proper distance and rhythm to win a split decision over the taller, younger Samuel Vargas before 3,712 at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
It was the third straight victory for Collazo (39-7, 20 knockouts) since he was stopped in seven rounds challenging WBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman in July 2015.
“As a fighter, we always want to fight for a world title,” Collazo said. “I want to be a world champion again. I still got the desire. I still got the fire. And I would like to fight the top guys in the welterweight division. They know who they are. I called them out before. It just hasn’t happened.”
Judges Glenn Feldman (96-94) and Frank Lombardi (98-92) each had it for Collazo, while judge Don Trella saw it for Vargas, 96-94.
In the first round, Vargas (30-5-2, 14 KOs) came at Collazo, pushing the aggression. But with less than 90 seconds left in the round, it was Collazo coming forward, bouncing a shot off of Vargas’ head and landing a body shot to his chest.
Overall, however, Vargas appeared to get the better of Collazo to win the round.
Vargas crowded Collazo at the outset of the second round, pulling back to land body shots to Collazo’s midsection and ribs. Though again, almost as if on que, Collazo began turning up the pressure of his own, pressing Vargas. With :30 left in the second, referee Charlie Fitch called time for the ringside doctors to take a look at Collazo’s left eye.
The beginning of the third mirrored the first two rounds. Vargas waded inside and chopped away at Collazo’s body. As the round moved forward, a cut appeared to form on the corner of Collazo’s right eye.
That, however, didn’t deter the veteran.
He ponged three shots off of Vargas’ head and in the last 15 seconds, he nailed Vargas with a right to the nose.
Feeling more confident and settled, Collazo ripped a combination off of Vargas’ face in the first 30 second of the fourth. A bruise began to form on the bridge of Vargas’ nose. Collazo began working from distance, instead of on Vargas’ terms inside.
In the last 30 seconds of the fourth, someone from Collazo’s corner screamed, “Watch that headbutt.”
After four rounds, and a slow start, Collazo appeared to be back in the fight.
In the opening 30 seconds of the fifth, the sway of the fight changed back towards Vargas’ favor. He got inside Collazo again and went back to his body attack.
Collazo did nail Vargas with a shot to the liver with just over a minute left in the round, which seemed to give Collazo the round.
Vargas again closed the distance gap within the first minute of the sixth. Collazo closed the sixth strong, once again dropping a right to Vargas’ sides. In the seventh, Collazo began by rifling a right on Vargas’ head.
Collazo was able to establish his comfort-zone distance, though a stream of deep crimson began to flow down the right side of Collazo’s face.
By the eighth, it appeared Collazo was in control. He was working off the distance he liked. The bleeding on his right eye stopped and he seemed confident he had the fight.
The ninth might have changed that.
The cut on Collazo’s right eye began leaking badly this time. The activity rate of both fighters dropped considerably by the ninth. Vargas went back to the body attack, and the blood dripping from Collazo’s right eye grew so severe that he had to wipe the blood away from his face with 30 seconds left in the round.
Fitch wore a big splotch of blood on his left shoulder when he asked the two fighters to touch gloves at center ring to begin the tenth.
Vargas, possibly sensing he needed the 10th to win, pressed Collazo throughout the round. Collazo appeared content to stay on his bike and pedal around Vargas as much as he could.
Within the last 30 seconds of the fight, Collazo did find another gear. He slapped a few punches off of Vargas’ face and the two wrestled in Collazo’s corner when the final bell sounded to end the fight.
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