Keith Thurman to defend belt against Luis Collazo

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Keith ThurmanWBA welterweight champion Keith Thurman, one of boxing’s future superstars, will make his second title defense when he takes on former WBA World welterweight champion Luis Collazo on July 11th in ESPN’s debut of Premier Boxing Champions in Tampa, Florida.

Thurman (25-0) was chosen to headline the first Premier Boxing Champions card on NBC in March, where he retained his WBA World welterweight title in an impressive performance vs. Robert ‘The Ghost’ Guerrero.

The 26-year-old Thurman has shown to be bountiful in terms of boxing talent, an outspoken fighter, and unafraid of engaging. For those reasons, it made perfect sense to choose Thurman, once again, to headline the debut of PBC on a major television network.

Thurman will clash with Collazo on July 11th on ESPN. The fight will take place at a venue to be determined in Tampa, Florida, located approximately 30 minutes outside Thurman’s hometown of Clearwater, Florida.

Speaking with ESPN, Thurman described it as an honor to be chosen again to headline a PBC card.

“I am very happy to be where I am in my career,” Thurman said. “Boxing is opening back up to the people, and it’s been a dream of mine to be a true champion, and there’s no better form of that than being the people’s champion. [The PBC] is opening up doors that will give the world-class fighters the exposure that they need. I want to be the American people’s champion. There is nothing better than getting the exposure, giving the fans the great fights, and being cheered by the public.”

Thurman, who has 21 knockouts in 25 fights, will be fighting in his home region for the first time since 2009 when he won a unanimous decision over Edvan Dos Santos Barrios, who fought the likes of Mike Alvarado, Luis Collazo, Jesus Soto Karass, and Thurman in his short career.

Defending his well-earned title from home is a dream come true for one of boxing’s hardest hitters.

“This is the first time coming home with something major, so I am extremely excited about it,” Thurman said. “It’s a dream come true.”

Thurman, who grew up around Tampa-area fighters Winky Wright, the former undisputed junior middleweight champion, and former super-middleweight titleholder Jeff Lacy – who all were trained under Dan Birmingham – recalled how much energy their success brought to the city.

“I remember when Winky and Jeff fought here in Tampa, how electric
the city was,” Thurman said. “Tampa is a great boxing town, but we only make fights happen when champions are in town. I’m happy to fight a big fight at home and happy to make one of my dreams come true.”

Collazo (36-6), a 34-year-old southpaw from New York, held the WBA World welterweight title from April 2005 to May 2006, but was defeated by Ricky Hatton in a close fight. Many ringside analysts thought Collazo had won the fight, including Collazo himself.

“When he [Hatton] came inside, he would hold, and he didn’t do enough to come out with a victory,” Collazo told HBO’s Larry Merchant after the fight.

Following the loss to Hatton, Collazo took a tune-up fight against Artur Atadzhanov before fighting Shane Mosley for the interim WBC World welterweight title, a fight that he lost by wide unanimous decision. In January 2014, he knocked out former titleholder Victor Ortiz in the second round, but lost a one-sided decision four months later to former unified junior welterweight champion Amir Khan on the Floyd Mayweather-Marcos Maidana undercard.

Collazo, who is coming off a second-round stoppage of Christopher Degollado, a loser of his past four fights, he will get another shot to hold a world championship at welterweight.

“Collazo always comes to fight,” Thurman said. “He has been in with some of the best fighters in the world and he has tons of experience. Fighting another southpaw, we’ll be prepared. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m looking forward to giving the fans what they love to see – action. July 11 is going to be a night full of action, might as well call the night ‘Fireworks,’ since it’s in July.”