It will have been more than a year since Amir Khan has fought when the 27-year-old from England enters the ring on Saturday opposite Brooklyn-born southpaw Luis Collazo in a welterweight clash of former titleholders. The fight will be part of the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Marcos Maidana undercard at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, broadcast on Showtime Pay-Per-View.
While Khan (28-3, 19 knockouts) owns a unanimous-decision victory over Maidana (who scored knockdowns in the fourth and eighth rounds of a unanimous decision that dethroned Adrien Broner as WBA welterweight titleholder in December), he has relatively struggled over the course of his past six fights, going 4-2 with two knockouts.
In the 33-year-old Collazo (35-5, 18 KOs), Khan will make his 147-pound debut against a career welterweight who has gone 6-1 with four knockout victories in his past seven fights.
Collazo is 4-0 with two stoppage wins since falling by 10-round unanimous decision to Freddy Hernandez, who dropped him in the eighth round in October 2011. Collazo was last in the ring for a second-round knockout of ex-beltholder Victor Ortiz, a fellow left-hander, in January.
"After knocking out Victor Ortiz with one punch last January, Luis Collazo is a reborn man on a mission. For Collazo, it's all about winning in Vegas and landing his dream fight against Floyd Mayweather at the Barclays Center in New York," said Jeff Freeman of KO Digest. "Standing in his way is the odd man out, Amir Khan, who was not good enough to be picked by Mayweather."
Both Khan and Collazo are signed with powerful advisor Al Haymon, becoming part of an impressive stable of fighters including Mayweather, Maidana, Broner, Collazo, Garcia, Alexander, Berto and Malignaggi among many others. The winner could be a strong candidate to face Mayweather.
"Fueled by the disappointment of not sharing the ring — and dollar — with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bolton’s finest Amir Khan will surely be on a mission to demonstrate that he is an elite welterweight on his debut in the division," said Harry Pratt of RingTV.com regarding Khan, who will be in his third fight under trainer Virgil Hunter.
"While the fear of messing up on the same bill as the American superstar should keep Khan’s mind focused on the immediate job in hand against in-form Luis Collazo, featuring on the undercard could also prove his downfall should he try too hard to impress and forget the new defensive strategy he claims to be mastering under trainer Vigil Hunter."
Khan said he has been physically draining himself to make 140 pounds since way back in July 2011, when he stopped ex-beltholder Zab Judah in the fifth round of their IBF/WBA junior welterweight title unification bout.
After defeating Judah, Khan lost his next fight by disputed split decision to current IBF 140-pound beltholder Lamont Peterson in December 2011 and was stopped in the fourth round in the following bout by RING, WBC and WBA junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia in July 2012.
Khan left trainer Freddie Roach in favor of Hunter for his next two fights, resulting in a 10th-round knockout over Carlos Molina, a California-based lightweight prospect, in December of 2012. That was followed by a unanimous decision over former titleholder Julio Diaz, who dropped him in the fourth round in his last fight on April 27. Molina will fight Broner on the Mayweather-Maidana card.
"Amir Khan will not only be making his welterweight debut against a career 147-pounder," said Jack Hirsch, President of the Boxing Writers Association of America, "but he will also have been out of action for more than a year by the time he faces Luis Collazo."
Khan's resume boasts a technical decision victory over Mexican great Marcos Antonio Barrera as well as a TKO over two-division titlewinner Paulie Malignaggi and a decision over ex-beltholder Andriy Kotelnik. Khan earned major 140-pound belts by beating Kotelnik and Judah.
In addition to his loss to Garcia and the fact that he was dropped and badly hurt by Julio Diaz, Khan has endured lingering questions about his chin as a result of a 54-second KO loss to Breidis Prescott in September 2008.
Collazo split decisioned Jose Antonio Rivera for the WBA's 147-pound belt in April of 2005 and stopped Miguel Angel Gonzalez in the seventh round of his first defense in August of that year. He lost the title to Ricky Hatton in a disputed unanimous decision after being floored in their first round in May 2006.
From there, Collazo went 3-2 with two knockout wins over his next five fights, falling by unanimous decision to Shane Mosley and Andre Berto in February 2007 and January 2009, respectively.
"This is a tough pick but I think a Luis Collazo highly motivated is dangerous for Amir Khan," said Cliff Rold of BoxingScene.com. "Khan has the edge in hand speed but Collazo is naturally bigger and has hurt questionable chins in the past."
RingTV.com sought the opinions of 25 insiders as to what will transpire in Khan-Collazo.
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: This is a 50/50 fight in the sense that I can only see two outcomes — Amir Khan by decision or Luis Collazo by stoppage. Khan's chin and defense are suspect enough to where he's a punch away from danger in any given fight, plus he hasn't fought in over a year.
But as long as he listens to trainer Virgil Hunter, who quite frankly needs a win from somewhere as long as Andre Ward is inactive, I believe he can outbox Collazo enough to hear the final bell and then plead his case for the Floyd Mayweather shot he expected to receive this time around.
Record: 5-3 [Last pick: Shumenov W 12 Hopkins]
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: It's a fight and perhaps a career that starts and possibly ends with Amir Khan's chin. If it doesn't betray him, if Luis Collazo doesn't find it with a precise shot, Khan figures to survive and maybe thrive with the rich payday against Floyd Mayweather that he thought was his all along before Marcos Maidana got in the way.
The guess is that Khan has matured enough to know that the problematic chin is a target he must protect. He has the skill-set to do so against a rugged Collazo whose power was a stunning surprise in a stoppage of Victor Ortiz. It's hard to know whether Ortiz was simply damaged goods, a head case ready to fall under Collazo's first assault.
But Khan can only assume that Collazo has developed power few thought he ever had. If Khan sticks to a fight plan based on that assumption, his quick feet will protect the chin and his fast hands will ensure him that victory is in and on the cards.
Record: 7-4 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Luis Collazo KO 5 Amir Khan: After knocking out Victor Ortiz with one punch last January, Luis Collazo is a reborn man on a mission. For Collazo, it's all about winning in Vegas and landing his dream fight against Floyd Mayweather at the Barclays Center in New York.
Standing in his way is the odd man out, Amir Khan, who was not good enough to be picked by Mayweather and not timely enough to have picked up a welterweight title from Devon Alexander when he had the chance to fight him.
Think of Khan as an opponent that Mayweather handily defeated without ever having to throw a punch at him. This is a crossroads bout and all roads lead to Brooklyn for Collazo.
I expect Collazo to again win big over another name opponent who takes him lightly. When Collazo finally catches up to the Brit's suspect chin, he'll put King Khan down and keep him there.
Record: 8-3 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: The word is that Amir Khan looked electric in sparring and if he keeps the fight long, then I can see him outpointing Luis Collazo. There is no way I would encourage him to mix it up with the New Yorker because that’s precisely what has caused him trouble in the past.
Collazo will be looking to land bombs but unlike Amir’s many detractors, I can see him holding a shot a little better at 147 pounds. He overstayed his welcome at junior welterweight and his punch resistance got progressively worse with each fight.
I think we might see the best of Khan in this division and he’ll be a lot more robust with the extra seven pounds. Would a Collazo victory surprise me? No, he’s a class act and underrated to the extreme. I just get the feeling that the night will belong to Amir.
Record: 8-2 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: As much as I'm tempted to give the nod to the guy who I believe is the hard knock story that deserves to shine on a grand stage, I just can't. Luis Collazo is a tough out for any fighter and has been given the shaft by the judges on numerous occasions with Ricky Hatton and Andre Berto immediately coming to mind.
But something tells me that an incensed Amir Khan who is fighting at 147 will be able to out-duel Collazo over the course of 12 rounds. Khan is more technically sound with fast hands and solid footwork. His perceived glass jaw shouldn't be as fragile at welterweight. Also and more importantly, Collazo is going to have a problem dealing with Khan's speed as he did with Shane Mosley.
Khan won't be foolish enough to stand in the pocket and trade shots. He'll be picking up his face if he does. Instead, he'll utilize his deft boxing ability to get the decision. He may find himself in trouble due to a mental lapse somewhere in the middle of the fight but he'll survive and make the statement he needs in order to be the next to cash in his Mayweather lottery ticket next.
Record: 9-2 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Luis Collazo SD 12 Amir Khan: Amir Khan will not only be making his welterweight debut against a career 147-pounder but he will also have been out of action for more than a year by the time he faces Luis Collazo.
I think that Khan has regressed as a fighter under trainer Virgil Hunter and he is no longer the fighter that he used to be. Collazo has tremendous self confidence and he's at a tremendous high point in his career. Collazo by split decision.
Record: 0-2 [Last pick: Shumenov W 12 Hopkins]
Amir Khan SD 12 over Luis Collazo: Amir Khan hasn’t fought in a year, which marks the longest layoff of his nine-year pro career. Expect a focused, well-conditioned Khan though because he knows he can strengthen his case for facing Floyd Mayweather by beating the resurrected Luis Collazo.
Unlike Victor Ortiz, there's no quit in Khan either. The 33-year-old Collazo could have trouble with Khan's athleticism and speed, especially early in the bout.
This fight figures to be interesting throughout though because Khan's chin is so questionable and Collazo has underrated power that his low knockout ratio of 45 percent doesn’t reflect. If Khan abandons defense during exchanges as he has done numerous times, he'll have plenty of difficulty overcoming Collazo.
Record: 8-3 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: I will take Amir Khan via unanimous decision. Any fight with Khan is a 50/50 fight. I think he might have neurological issues.
The way his legs get when he gets hit with what shouldn't be knockout punches reminds me a little of the way Wilfredo Benitez legs got late in his career.
Khan is a good boxer and is capable of beating almost anyone if he doesn't get caught. Luis Colllazo can hit and isn't without some skills. So a KO win by him isn't out of the zip code of possiblilty.
Record: 2-2 [Last pick: Alvarez UD 12 Angulo]
Amir Khan UD12 Luis Collazo: Luis Collazo's awkward style can make anyone look ordinary and the power he recently displayed against Victor Ortiz adds another dimension to his arsenal. However, I expect Amir Khan's superior handspeed to take him through this fight.
In addition, an extended training camp has allowed him to hone his strength and conditioning as a full-fledged 147-pounder. I believe Khan wins a competitive but clear decision.
Record: 1-0 [Last pick: Alvarez W 12 Angulo]
Amir Khan Dec-12 Luis Collazo: This is a tough one, a real puzzle. The mystery revolves around Amir Khan's lack of activity, which cannot help a guy who depends on sharpness. I do expect though that Khan will have plenty of speed, and Luis Collazo will have plenty of sneaky smarts.
Two veterans, two real prizefighters matching wits. I see a distance fight, one where each guys wins plenty of rounds, and many of those rounds will be close. Khan though will emerge with a hard-fought decision in an entertaining fight.
Record: 7-4 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan KO 10 Luis Collazo: Amir Khan will control throughout. Luis Collazo has, for years, been a part-time boxer. Yes, he did get jobbed against Ricky Hatton but that was years ago now.
And so what if in his last outing he stopped a "heart not in it" Victor Ortiz? Khan, while no longer the boxer of the future, still possesses the tools of a solid pro.
Yes, he can be hurt if he gets foolish but in this case, I sense that Collazo, at his advanced age and relative inactivity in high-stakes situations, will have his work cut out for him.
Khan's speed will befuddle Collazo, so look for the Brit to dominate, even if he does taste the canvas. Khan by stoppage in round 10.
Record: 5-1 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan KO 10 Luis Collazo: Fueled by the disappointment of not sharing the ring — and dollar — with Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bolton’s finest Amir Khan will surely be on a mission to demonstrate that he is an elite welterweight on his debut in the division.
While the fear of messing up on the same bill as the American superstar should keep Khan’s mind focused on the immediate job in hand against in-form Luis Collazo, featuring on the undercard could also prove his downfall should he try too hard to impress and forget the new defensive strategy he claims to be mastering under trainer Virgil Hunter.
Then again, entertainment is the name of the game for the former junior welterweight holder, still only 27, who just cannot help but get involved in a good scrap.
Record: 0-1 [Last pick: Bradley UD 12 Pacquiao]
Amir Khan W12 Luis Collazo: I see this as a 50/50 fight. Luis Collazo propelled himself into the welterweight rankings by knocking out Victor Ortiz four months ago.
Amir Khan was on the sidelines for a year, waiting for a call from Floyd Mayweather that never came.
Collazo showed fire in his last fight but I believe the quicker Khan has more talent. I think he'll survive some scary moments to win a close 12-round decision.
Record: 8-3 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Luis Collazo KO 10 Amir Khan: I think that Luis Collazo knocks out Amir Khan by the 10th round. I think that Collazo will keep the pressure on him throughout. Besides that, Khan's chin is extremely suspect.
Luis Collazo W 12 Amir Khan: This is a very good fight on paper, but I expect the career resurgence of Luis Collazo to continue against Amir Khan. Collazo has been active and looking good against respectable competition as of late.
Khan simply hasn't and he's been far too inactive. Both fighters are roughly at the same point in their careers but Collazo, coming off that quick stoppage of Victor Ortiz, probably has a little more left in his arsenal. That should be enough for him to score in spots en route to a close but clear decision victory.
Record: 7-3 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan SD 12 Luis Collazo: I think Amir Khan will win a very tough fight with Luis Collazo. I think Khan is very committed at this point in his career.
But I'm still uncertain how sharp he will be coming off of a year layoff. Collazo is proven and underestimated still after all these years. I think Khan will do just enough to pull out a split decision.
Record: 2-2 [Last pick: Alvarez W 12 Angulo]
Luis Collazo KO Amir Khan: This is a tough pick but I think a Luis Collazo highly motivated is dangerous for Amir Khan. Khan has the edge in hand speed but Collazo is naturally bigger and has hurt questionable chins in the past.
Record: 7-4 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: Amir Khan versus Luis Collazo is a tough fight to call. Collazo is the fighter with the momentum, having capped an impressive comeback with a knockout of Victor Ortiz while Khan has struggled.
However, I believe Khan has a significant edge in speed. Plus, he knows his career is at a crossroads. He can't afford to lose again. I think Khan wins a close but unanimous decision.
Record: 5-3 [Last pick: Pacquiao W 12 Bradley]
Amir Khan KO 10 Luis Collazo: Amir Khan knows a loss here means he’s out of the Floyd Mayweather stakes. Luis Collazo is 33 and Khan is 2-2 over his last four fights. Something has to give.
Collazo hasn’t been stopped in 12 years. Maybe desperation, in this case, Khan’s, trumps a warrior who’s been in one too many wars.
Record: 5-0 [Last pick: Pacquiao KO 9 Bradley]
Amir Khan W 12 Luis Collazo: I like Luis Collazo a lot and I am hoping he pulls off a win that I certainly believe he is capable of. But if I had to bet my last dollar, I'd have to go with the idea that Amir Khan is a little too rangy and hard-punching at this stage of the game.
Collazo's style and sneaky counter shots can trouble Khan but I just have the feeling that Khan will ultimately prove to have the jab and ability to put hard punches together that will seal a win for him.
Record: 5-2 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: I think Amir Khan is going to be a better fighter at 147 pounds. He has grown into the weight naturally and will be hungry to prove that he can be a threat to Floyd Mayweather.
Khan will use very good hand speed along with his boxing ability and length to beat Luis Collazo to the punch all night.
Collazo will not be able to handle Khan's speed but could make it interesting if he can land a similar big shot to the one that he put Victor Ortiz out with. When its over, I expect Khan to be too quick and will look good in outpointing Collazo.
Record: 5-1 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan UD12 Luis Collazo: This is most certainly a must-win for Amir Khan if he wants to be further considered for the major cards. Luis Collazo needs a victory too if he desires that shot of a lifetime against Floyd Mayweather — and who doesn’t?
Khan's chin is susceptible to the big punch and Collazo can supply that big punch. But Khan, now being trained by Virgil Hunter, will steer clear. He is comfortable at 147 and is quicker than Collazo. That quickness will be the difference.
Record: 5-0 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: This is a very competitive matchup but I'm not too sure if they compliment one another in terms of style. Luis Collazo has been in a few exciting scraps and Amir Khan's chin is so suspect in every fight, it's almost a guarantee we will witness a knockdown or Khan on Queer Street.
Khan has so much riding on this fight that a loss could very well be the end of an up-and-down career. Collazo has been absent from the spotlight for some time and is back after retiring Victor Ortiz inside two rounds early this year.
This is a very difficult choice and why I like this fight. Khan will display a tad more activity and will be using ring generalship that will attract the judges and favor him down the stretch. Collazo will land the heavier, telling blows and rock Khan in the later rounds. But it won't be enough.
Record: 5-4 [Last pick: Hopkins MD 12 Shumenov]
Charles Villa, guest/fan, Portland, Ore.
Amir Khan UD 12 Luis Collazo: Call me crazy but I'm actually looking forward to this fight more than the main event. Amir Khan is an exciting fighter. The hand and foot speed, the combinations, respectable power and, of course, his fickle chin all make for a must-see fight. Amir Khan has realized that he can't win the Floyd Mayweather lottery getting by fighters like Julio Diaz and Carlos Molina.
So he's finally stepped up the competition at 147 with a fight against Luis Collazo. While Luis Collazo hasn't had a stellar resume since 2009, his recent knockout of Victor Ortiz announced his serious intentions. Collazo, the epitome of the crafty veteran, has had incredibly close fights with the likes of Ricky Hatton and Andre Berto. But that was eight and five years ago.
He's tough and throws a good counter, but at age 33, I don't see him being able to catch Khan the way he caught Victor Ortiz. Amir Khan's going to be too quick and will be using his range and speed to control the fight from the outside. Collazo can make a fight real ugly, but if Khan was looking for a way to climb the ladder to the Mayweather penthouse, this fight would be a good start.
Record: 4-3 [Last pick: Hopkins UD 12 Shumenov]
Amir Khan W 12 Luis Collazo: Styles make fights. Luis Collazo is awkward and can give any welterweight fits. However, I believe Amir Khan will use his speed advantage to take an early lead.
I think Collazo will come back into the fight. I don't see him being able to claw his way back into the fight fully, however, so I think Khan wins a competitive decision.
Record: 7-3 [Last pick: Hopkins W 12 Shumenov]
By a signficant margin of 20-5, the insiders favor Amir Khan to win his 147-pound debut over southpaw Luis Collazo in a battle of former titleholders.