Brooklyn's Collazo takes on Ortiz for WBA Welterweight crown
By John Torenli, Sports Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
With Super Bowl week nearly upon us here in Downtown Brooklyn, local residents are bracing for more cold, more snow, more tourists and more sports action than they can wrap their minds around.
Yankee Stadium will host a pair of outdoor NHL games featuring the Devils, Rangers and soon-to-be-Brooklyn Islanders.
The red-hot Nets will welcome Atlantic Division-leading Toronto and NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder to the corners of Atlantic and Flatbush Avenues.
And on the eve of Super Bowl XLVIII at MetLife Stadium, the Barclays Center will put on a special Kickoff in Brooklyn concert, headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, who will also be a part of the Big Game's halftime show with Bruno Mars.
Perhaps lost in the shuffle a bit in the midst of these star-studded events is next Thursday night's WBA International Welterweight title bout between Brooklyn's-own Luis Collazo and "Vicious" Victor Ortiz at the Barclays Center.
But it shouldn’t be.
The two combatants, both of whom have previously held world titles, are in dire need of a victory next week to elevate their stock in the hopes of landing a major fight later in 2014.
Collazo, the WBA welterweight title-holder from 2005-06, will be entering the ring at Barclays for the fourth time, having won his previous three bouts here, including a TKO triumph over Miguel Callist in Downtown Brooklyn last April.
"Ortiz is a former world champion and you have to respect that," said the 32-year-old Collazo, who boasts a career record of 34-5 with 16 knockouts.
"But Barclays Center is my home and he's going to find that out the second he leaves the locker room,” Collazo added. “I need to win this fight and make a statement if I want to get a shot at a [bigger] title and I plan on doing just that."
Ortiz, 26, will be trying to take away Collazo's WBA International belt, which he earned with a 10-round unanimous decision win over Alan Sanchez last September in San Antonio.
The 26-year-old Ventura, Calif., native has taken on the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Andre Berto and Marcos Maidana in the squared circle, but is desperate to rebound from back-to-back losses, the last of which came wau back on June 23, 2012 against Josesito Lopez at Los Angeles' Staples Center.
Ortiz, a former "Dancing with the Stars" contestant with a budding actor career and a much higher national profile than Collazo, can ill-afford a third consecutive defeat, or even a poor showing if he hopes to re-establish himself as a dangerous contender.
"I've got a lot of friends and fans in New York and I'm excited about fighting at Barclays Center for the first time," Ortiz noted. "This is a big fight for me. I missed being in the ring and even though Collazo will be a tough challenge, I'm going to win in spectacular fashion."
Collazo, however, will be fighting for more than ring glory Thursday night after announcing last week that he is dedicating the Barclays bout to The NephCure Foundation, a kidney disease non-profit to which he has a very special connection.
The two-time New York City Golden Glover champion, who attended Brooklyn's P.S. 290 and I.S. 302, will don the organization's website, www.NephCure.org, on his robe and trunks for the headline bout, which will be televised nationally by FoxSports1 and Fox Deportes.
Collazo will be doing so in honor of 15-year-old Allie Genatt, who suffers from the incurable kidney disease FSGS.
Genatt, who underwent a kidney transplant at age 11, lives in Brookville, Long Island and is a prime mover in advocating for more research to find better treatments and a cure for her affliction. She is expected to be ringside for the fight, as well as accompanying Collazo to the pre-fight press conference.
"As a former - and future - world champion, I've reached many of my goals in boxing," Collazo said. "Now I want to use the platform of this fight to call attention to Allie's battle with FSGS and to The NephCure Foundation, which funds research into finding a cure. NephCure needs to find patient families dealing with these kidney conditions in the Hispanic communities of New York City and I can help them do that."
"It is so exciting for me and NephCure to be part of Luis Collazo's team for this major event right here in Brooklyn," added Genatt, who hosted the local brawler and his trainers at NephCure's Annual Countdown to a Cure event in Manhattan in November. "Our message is that NephCure is a great resource for people suffering from FSGS and Nephrotic Syndrome. We have a dynamic community and we want to find and help other families."
In Thursday night's co-feature, Eddie "E-Boy" Gomez will meet Daquan "King" Arnett in a showdown of undefeated rising stars in the super welterweight division.
The last time these two squared off, they were both 12 years old and just cutting their teeth in the ring.
"I beat him in the amateurs and now we are just going back at it again," recalled Gomez (15-0), who will also be fighting at Barclays for the fourth time as a pro. "When we fought in the amateurs, I knocked him down three times. We were just young guys then and now we are grown men and someone's '0' has to go on January 30. I can tell you it won't be mine."
"This is the biggest fight of my career thus far. Being at Barclays Center for the Malignaggi vs. Judah fight [on Dec. 7] got me excited to fight there," Arnett (11-0) said. "I have fought on big stages in the past and it hasn't rattled me. I don't expect this to be any different."
Also featured on the latest Golden Boy Promotions fight card at Barclays are Staten Island's undefeated light-heavyweight contender Marcus Browne and Brooklyn natives Zachary Ochoa and Rafael Vazquez.
Tickets for the Super Bowl week Barclays boxing card are available for purchase at www.barclayscenter.com, www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. You can also walk up to the Barclays Center American Express Box Office.