Oscar Collazo can kill two birds with one stone.
Collazo could become the 105-pound world title holder and could also make history by winning the world title faster than any Puerto Rican.
Melvin Jerusalem, the holder of the WBO world title, stands in Collazo’s way of achieving these goals. The two will face off Saturday night at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California. The 12-round bout will precede the main event between welterweight Alexis Rocha and Anthony Young.
Both fights will be broadcast live on DAZN (21:00 ET / 18:00 PT).
At Friday’s weigh-in, Jerusalem weighed in at 104.5 pounds. Collazo came in just short of the 105-pound strawweight limit.
Saturday’s clash between Jerusalem and Collazo is an intriguing bout featuring The Ring’s top 10 fighters at 105 pounds. Jerusalem and Collazo rank 3rd and 10th respectively.
Collazo (6-0, 4 knockouts), who lives in Villalba, Puerto Rico, last fought on January 28, defeating Mexican Yudel Reyes twice en route to a round 5 knockout victory. In his previous fight on July 16, Collazo was able to recover strength after a knockdown and defeated Vic Saludar of the Philippines via unanimous decision.
The southern foot fighter will now make significant strides in the opposition as they take on Jerusalem, who won the world title in their most recent bout on January 6, stopping Japan’s Masataka Taniguchi in the second round. Despite far fewer fights than the Filipino competitor, Collazo is confident that his skills will allow him to win.
“We’ve been working on it,” Collazo told The Ring earlier this week. “I am very motivated to do this and I want to make history for my country. I feel well prepared for it. We’ve been working hard for the last four and a half months. I am on and focused. We had a quality sparring. Everything goes according to plan.
“Melvin is a great champion. I know he will come to fight and I know it will be a great challenge. He is a strong boxer. Drops everything. It will come at its best. We have to be smart and look for a counter. We trained in every way until the very end.”
The fight in Jerusalem will be Collazo’s third 12-round fight. Despite not having as many rounds as a pro, Collazo has confidence in the work he has done in the gym, along with his sparring sessions.
“All the work we put into the gym allowed me to gain experience,” said Collazo, who is co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Cotto Promotions. “Maybe I have fewer rounds of professional experience compared to Jerusalem, but in terms of what I’m capable of doing, I feel like I’m efficient. Look what I managed to do against the Saludar. I could show that I could box or sit on my punches.
“In the fight with Reyes, I was able to show strength. In this fight against Jerusalem, I want to show all aspects of my skill set. I want to show that I have a boxing IQ and that I can fight any style and win.
A win over Jerusalem would move Collazo up the rankings to 105 pounds.
“I consider myself one of the best players in the division. A victory over Jerusalem would put me at the top of the division. I know I can show that I can be number 1 and the best in the world at this weight.”
Collazo is aware of Puerto Rico’s great and extraordinary boxing history. Connected with sports from an early age and watching sports on TV, Collazo dreamed from childhood not only of winning the world title, but also of inscribing his name in the rich history of the island nation.
The world champion belt may be the beginning of Collazo leaving his mark in the sport, but also adding his name to the list of great Puerto Rican fighters.
“For me, this fight will be crucial. This is where the path to greatness opens. I could add my name to Ivan Calderon, Miguel Cotto, Hector Camacho. I want to open this door. Everyone has a legacy. I want to create my own legacy. I’ll try to do it Saturday night.
Francisco A. Salazar has been writing for The Ring since October 2013 and has been boxing in Southern California and internationally since 2000. Francisco also writes about boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. You can reach it at (email protected)