On Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN, live from the USF Sun Dome in Tampa Bay, Florida, this Saturday, July 11, the main event was a boxing match that pitted Keith Thurman vs. Luis Collazo in a bout for the Welterweight World Champion Title. Thurman won a hard-fought battle by getting a TKO against Collazo and defeating him, though the bout ended in an unusual way, after Collazo decided to “retire” from the fight a second into Round Eight.
The opening, co-headlining boxing match pitted Tony “Superman” Harrison, who went into the bout undefeated, with a 21-0 record and 18 KOs, going up against Willie Nelson, 23-2-1 with 13 of his victories coming by KOs. Nelson, the taller of the two fighters, gave Harrison more of a match than the so-called “Superman” could handle.
A lot of hype had been built up in regards to Thurman, aka “One Time” Thurman, as some people have billed him as the successor to Floyd Mayweather Jr. Thurman is a native of Florida, and ESPN showcased him in a segment about his life during the broadcast.
Harrison, from Detroit, was interviewed. The boxer is passionate about his hometown, and he says that he is fighting not only for his family and fans, but for the entire city of Detroit. Though he was anticipated to win against Nelson, Nelson was taller, at 6’3″ versus the 6″1″ of Harrison.
Nelson was in the Red Corner, wearing purple trunks, fighting out of Cleveland, Ohio. In the Blue Corner, wearing blue trunks with silver trim, was Harrison. Nelson would need to use his height and reach to try to keep Harrison at a distance in order to defeat his opponent.
Round One: Nelson had not fought as much the last couple of year, in comparison to Harrison, though Nelson stated he had a good training camp. The first round, Harrison left himself open while Nelson had his gloves up, protecting his face and ahead for much of the round. Nelson got in a good left hook to Harrison’s body. At the end of the round, though, Harrison knocked Nelson down to the mat, though ESPN went to a commercial break and it might be that the fall will be ruled as being more of a slip.
Back from commercials, that is exactly what the refs ruled. It was called a “slip.”
Round Two: At least one of the commentators said he thought that Nelson won the first round. Another stated he thought that Harrison “was more the aggressor.” It was a pretty even round, but the second round, Nelson did look more confident, using his reach to his advantage and getting in some good body shots. Harrison got in a couple of left hooks to Nelson’s face, though, both boxers going at it aggressively, with the belt on the line.
Round Three: The fight was scheduled to go ten rounds, but either fighter could end it much sooner with a KO, of course. Harrison was out-jabbing Nelson, trying to take away his reach advantage. Harrison had connected on 17 jabs so far in the bout. If Harrison can get in enough jabs and blur Nelson’s vision, he can get in even more punches, in theory.
Round Four: Harrison backed up Nelson at the start of the round. The ref briefly stopped them when they got into a clench. Nelson had stated that he “did not fear the power of Tony Harrison.” Both boxers traded punches, with Nelson looking like he towered above Harrison. However, Harrison still got in a greater percentage of the punches he threw during the fourth round, likely putting him as having won the fight to this point.
Round Five: Nelson got in a couple of good body blows early in the round. He also managed to get in a couple of jabs to Harrison’s face. When the boxers got in closer to each other, Harrison was able to land more of his punches. Nelson had Harrison backed up into the ropes and got in a few more punches. Though Harrison might eventually win the fight, the boxing match probably gave Harrison all he wanted and more, as Nelson was taller and he fought with a lot of heart.
Round Six: Both boxers were hesitant, at first, of getting within the range of the other’s fists. Nelson got Harrison backed up into the ropes again, but the ref had them both get back into the middle of the ring. Harrison then began connecting with more combinations, going from punches to Nelson’s body, then to his face. Still, Nelson did not look hurt, and he got in some good punches of his own.
Round Seven: As one commentator put it, Harrison “was going downstairs, then upstairs,” alternating his punches the last round. He had landed 44 percent of his punches in Round Six. This round, he attempted to continue his success, though both boxers stayed at a distance from each other to begin the round. The audience started to “boo” them, wanting to see more action. Though both boxers got in some punches, there was not a lot of action this round, and at the end of it, the audience “booed” some more.
Round Eight: There was more action this round, with both boxers landing flurries of combinations. Neither boxer was demonstrating his superiority, really, and the crowd “booed” them some more later int he round, as there was a slight lull in the action. Nelson kept on backing Harrison up against the ropes. Harrison might eventually be declared the winner, but Nelson showed no quit, and at this point in the boxing match, he was still very much in the fight.
Round Nine: Harrison actually got Nelson up against the ropes at the start of the round, though Nelson was able to get in some good uppercuts even then. Harrison alternated his punches going from body blows to jabs to Nelson’s face, but then Nelson knocked Harrison to the mat with a powerful right hand, winning the bout with a KO. Harrison was too wobbly and could not continue. Nelson gave Harrison the first loss of his career. Nelson showed class, going over to Harrison’s corner and giving him a pat on the back and talking to him about having fought a good fight.
He won 57 seconds into the ninth round. It was Nelson’s 14th KO of his career, the biggest KO yet for him.
After the boxing match, Nelson stated that he thought his left hook had started the eventual win, but then his right hand finished Harrison off. He had said before the fight he “was going to take Harrison to the deep water.” He apparently did just that, as he won with a KO.
Harrison stated he felt he “left his city down.” He said “I was trying too hard with every shot.” He then said, showing good sportsmanship, that Nelson had fought a “good fight.”
Before the Thurman vs. Collazo boxing match, Thurman was interviewed. He expressed doubts about his own ability, and he was haunted by the passing of his trainer. He said he fought to be the champion that his trainer wanted him to be. Now, his trainer is someone from the same gym.
He said “My motto is the judges should just be sitting there, and have the best seat of their lives.” He felt that the decision should never have to be left up to the judges. With a perfect record of 25 wins and zero losses, he has tried his hardest not to leave the decision up to the judges.
Collazo was the first boxer introduced. His mother made the trip to be there, the first time ever that his mom had been able to see him fight at ringside in the United States.
The audience loudly cheered for their hometown hero, Thurman, when he made his way to the ring. He raised up his arm into the air, in the ring, as the crowd cheered.
The fight was for the Welterweight World Championship. Collazo, a southpaw, wearing red trunks, fought out of the Red Corner. Thurman was in the blue Corner, wearing read, white and blue trunks.
Round One: “Thurman likes to hurt guys,” one announcer said. It was a part of his game plan, to help him “intimidate guys.” Both boxers came out kind of hesitant, at first, though the action picked up as the round went on. The first round seemed to be one in which the boxers were getting used to how each one fought.
Round Two: Thurman kept looking for a good opening. Collazo tried not to give him one. He had tried to come out looking like the “aggressor,” though there was not a lot of action the first round. Thurman got Collazo backed up into the ropes and landed some combinations. In the middle of the ring, Thurman got in some left jabs to Collazo’s face and body. Collazo’s mother cheered him on, as her son had got in some good punches of his own.
Round Three: Antonio Tarver was in the audience. His son, Antonio Tarver Jr., got the third win of his career earlier, on the undercard, defeating Julian Valerio.
Collazo fought from the middle of the ring, backing Thurman up a couple of times. He knew he was considered the “underdog,” but he seemed to relish that role. They had a furious exchange of punches in a neutral corner. Collazo showed some swelling under his left eye. The round ended with both boxers still looking very much in the boxing match.
Round Four: Collazo had shown more aggression the last round. Thurman landed a couple of right hands to Collazo’s body. Collazo tried to counter but did not connect with most of his punches. Thurman kept alternating his punches, going to Collazo’s body and then throwing jabs to his face.
Round Five: Thurman teed off on Collazo, landing a series of body blows followed by punches to his face. Collazo looked slower than Thurman, but he was the older of the two boxers, perhaps accounting for that. Collazo was on the offensive more this round, backing up Thurman, chasing him down and having success with body blows. the audience got to their feet, cheering, as the round concluded. Collazo definitely hurt Thurman, and got his attention this round.
Round Six: Collazo took control of the round about halfway into the last round. Thurman tried to show that he was still confident and in control, but he had to still be hurting. Thurman landed some good combinations, but Collazo continued to work Thurman’s body with strong lefts. Collazo was still primarily fighting from the middle of the ring, cutting the ring down, and being the aggressor. Thurman got in a strong right as the round ended, and blood started to stream down Collazo’s face from a cut under his eye.
Round Seven: Thurman landed a sharp right hand, and Collazo answered with a powerful body shot. Collazo kept moving forward, as if he was stalking Thurman. Thurman got in a few blows to Collazo’s face, but the news of the earlier upset might be playing on Thurman’s mind a little bit.
The audience started to chant “Keith! Keith! Kieth!” to get him pumped up. Thurman landed a few more punches before the round ended, but the boxing match was probably closer than he had anticipated it would be. There was talk that the fight would be stopped, as Collazo’s cuts would not stop bleeding. There were claims that Collazo stopped the fight, as he told the doctor “I can’t see.” He had to confirm that though, for the fight to end.
One second into Round Eight, Thurman was declared the winner of the fight. Collazo was defeated by a TKO, though it was kind of an unusual way to win. Thurman stated after the fight that Collazo had got him with a good body shot. He said that “Collazo fought like a champion and so did I.” He stated that he was ready to fight Mayweather Jr., saying “I can beat any fighter,” and noting that both he and Mayweather were “undefeated.”
If the fight had gone to the score cards, Thurman would have been declared the winner. In a post-fight interview, Collazo said that “Thurman is a great fighter, but I’m not going to say ‘the greatest.'” Collazo had Thurman shaken, and if he had managed to stay in the boxing match, and continued to be aggressive, the outcome of the fight might have been different. The cut under Collazo’s right eye originally opened up due to a head-butt. He come close to winning the title, but not quite close enough.
In the opening boxing match on by Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN, Harrison showed that he was a perhaps more technically gifted boxer than Nelson, but Nelson proved to be his kryptonite when he beat the so-called “Superman.” Nelson won just 57 seconds into the ninth round, getting the 14th KO of his career.
Thurman showed his versatility during the headlining boxing match on ESPN, getting a victory via TKO against Collazo. He had fought with an injured left hand, but pushed on, whether his hand was in pain or not. He did not give in to the pain he felt when Collazo landed strong body blows during the fifth round. It was an unusual way for Thurman to get a victory, just a second into Round Eight, but a win’s a win, and he remains undefeated, improving his record to 26-0.
Written and Edited By Douglas Cobb
Premier Boxing on ESPN
Photos Courtesy of Lucas Noonan/Premier Boxing Champions