The cocky southpaw from Brooklyn with the fast hands, the slick moves and the championship belt wrapped around his waist, wonders why no one can spell his name.
World champions usually get top billing. It’s one of the perks for being the best. They get the closest table, the biggest crowd, the largest room and the fanciest cars. They’re first in line and last to arrive, and when the posters are printed up, their name is always on top and in big letters, and no one asks them how to spell it.
Same on the marquee.
So what happened to WBA welterweight champ Luis Collazo? How come his name is at the bottom and in small letters? Why doesn’t anyone ask him about Floyd Mayweather, or what he’s going to do after he wins? Where are all the questions?
Most of them are directed at junior-welterweight champion Ricky Hatton (40-0, 30 KOs), the 2005 “fighter of the year” from England who faces Collazo (26-1, 12 KOs) on May 13 in Boston (HBO).
Remember. Hatton beat Kostya Tszyu. Who did Collazo ever beat? OK. Besides Miguel Angel Gonzalez, who did he beat?
That’s the way it’s always been for Collazo. He’s the underdog, the long shot, the wing-and-a-prayer guy.
But that’s all right. It’s been that way for so long, Collazo and his trainer, Nirmal Lorick, are used to being overlooked. They’ve made a career of it. It’s become part of their fight plan.
“Luis never had an easy fight,” Lorick said on a recent conference call. “We’ve been the underdog all our lives. (Hatton) has had the money and he’s made big fights, but I think they underestimate Luis. Luis beat a great fighter in Gonzalez.”
Earlier this year, Collazo was supposed to fight German fighter Oktay Urkal, the WBA’s No. 1 contender. But when that fight fell through, Hatton showed up with the proper paperwork and Collazo took the fight knowing Hatton was moving up a weight class and would be fighting Collazo on his home turf.
Advantage: hometown boy.
“Anywhere in the United States is my home,” Collazo said. “So it doesn’t matter where I fight in the States. He’s not at home. He’s from England.”
There’s something to be said for sleeping in your own bed and fighting in front of your neighbors.
“Luis came from nowhere to somewhere, and I don’t think he’s ready to go back,” Lorick said. “This is Luis’ time to shine. I spoke to him the day after we signed the contract to fight Ricky and he said, ‘Nirmal, don’t worry about nothing. I’ve got this.’ When Luis tells me that, I don’t worry.”
Asked to tell us a little bit about himself, Collazo obliged.
“Slick, fast hands, good condition,” he said. “And pretty.”
He forgot to add “healthy ego.”
“I think (Hatton) knows he’s in for a fight,” Lorick said. “Luis Collazo is ready.”
Collazo himself would like to pass on a message to Hatton.
“He can’t overlook me,” he said. “Come May 13, I’m going to go in there and do what I do and shock the world. If he’s overlooking me, that’s his fault. I’m always the underdog and it motivates me. A lot of people are going to be shocked.”
Here’s a little secret. Collazo said back home in Brooklyn, they call him the “Showstopper” because he’s always ruining shows, winning when he isn’t supposed to.
“Come May 13, I’m going to ruin plans, not shows,” he said. “Plans.”
It’s spelled C-o-l-l-a-z-o.