THURMAN TAKES ON COLLAZO IN 'PBC ON ESPN' DEBUT
By TOM WATT on July 9 2015
This coming weekend sees yet another instalment of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions Series, this time being the inaguaral ESPN edition, replacing the long-standing Friday Night Fights. The main event will see Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman take on the rugged and seasoned Luis Collazo with undefeated Tony Harrison (21-0, 18 KOs) taking on Willie Nelson (23-2-1, 13 KOs) in the opening fight of the live broadcast. This is the second time Thurman has fought in the Premier Boxing Champions series after he opened the PBC on NBC card with his win over former World Champion Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero in March and he has been chosen to raise the curtain for the ESPN shows as well because of his fan-friendly style and popularity among fans.
This is by no means a 50/50 fight and Thurman will be judged on how impressively he wins rather than if he wins, Collazo is a former champion but his stock is on the decline following a lopsided defeat to Amir Khan last year – a fight that Thurman criticised the Briton for taking at the time. That being said Collazo is no walkover and is durable if nothing else so this will not be a walk in the park for Keith Thurman but ‘One Time’ will fancy his chances in front of his home crowd in Tampa and will be looking to leave his mark on proceedings with a trademark ‘One Time’ finish.
Here is what Thurman had to say ahead of this weekend’s show-down
“There’s a lot to talk about with this fight. The fact that it’s on ESPN, people are going to tune-in and I’ll have the opportunity to make more fans and broaden my fan base. It’s another audition for a national audience.
“Depending on how you do, your stock goes up. An impressive win though, that gets you a real jump. I’ve worked hard to get here and I want to be spectacular.
“I believe the excitement will come for myself when I enter the arena and I hear the cheers of the hometown crowd. I’ve gotten a lot of love and respect from different venues I’ve fought at, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been back home.
“There are a lot of people who have followed my career that haven’t been able to see me, live in action. The fact that I’m bringing this fight home, I just think about when Winky Wright did it; Jeff Lacy did it; Antonio Tarver did it; it’s a big thing for me emotionally to be able to bring world-class boxing back to Tampa Bay.
“I’m looking forward to a great performance and hopefully we can continuously bring these big fights back to Tampa Bay.”
Collazo will be hoping to spoil the homecoming party for Thurman and has said he has been training to win
“I’m trying to pull off the upset again. Anything can happen in this sport, one punch can end everything, so we’ll see what happens on Saturday.
“I’m the type of guy who doesn’t like to plan ahead. I’m the underdog and I love being the underdog. I’ve been the underdog all my life. It inspires me to go out there and show the fans that anything is possible not just in the ring, but in life.
“I’m going to give it my all, that’s the type of person I am. I didn’t come here for handout so I hope he’s prepared.”
If the Luis Collazo that beat Victor Ortiz last year shows up then this might be a rockier homecoming for Thurman than he would like but it seems very unlikely, Thurman is one of the rising stars within the sport and perhaps more poignantly, one of Haymon’s stars of the Premier Boxing Series – another win in front of a national audience will help to build the hype around the hard-hitting Thurman and continue to show the value of bringing top-level fights to free-to-air TV.
Prediction: Expect to see Thurman look to dominate the fight and use this victory as a springboard to try and land the elusive Mayweather fight in September.
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