With one right hook, former world champion Luis Collazo recharged his career and delivered a second straight setback to Sammy Vasquez Jr.
Collazo made a bid for Knockout of the Year with a sixth-round KO of Vasquez on Thursday night in the main event of a PBC on FS1 card at the Horseshoe Tunica Hotel & Casino in Tunica, Mississippi.
After knocking down Vasquez with a right hook to the head in Round 3, Luis Collazo (37-7, 20 KOs) landed the same shot in Round 6 that left “The Sergeant” lying flat on his back as referee Bill Clancy waved an end to the bout at 1:27 of the round.
“Going into the fight I knew he didn’t like the body shots too much,” Collazo said. “In the locker room earlier today, my team was telling me, ‘He’s going to be waiting for the shot downstairs, so touch him soft down low and come back up top. Get him to bite and bring his guard down.’
“And that’s exactly what he did. He opened up. We both were trying to line up that hook, and my hook landed first.”
Sammy Vasquez Jr. (21-2, 15 KOs) was stopped for the first time in his career, and it came in his first fight after suffering his first career loss to Felix Diaz in July. Not long after the 30-year-old Pennsylvania native failed in his attempt to jump back into title contention by beating Collazo, the National Guard veteran said he recognized his mistake against his veteran opponent.
"I felt like I was starting to get in my groove,” Vasquez said. “He just caught me with a really great shot at the right time.
“I knew his big punch was the right hook. I was working on keeping my hand up to block it. I dropped it at the wrong time, and he got me.”
More than a decade removed from his championship reign at 147 pounds, the 35-year-old Collazo began to heat up after Vasquez controlled the first two rounds using his footwork and an active jab.
Vasquez opened a cut above Collazo's right eye with a punch in Round 3 just moments before the bloodied Brooklyn, New York, resident floored Vasquez with a right to cap a 1-2 combination to the head.
Vasquez not only recovered from the second knockdown of his career, but he rocked Collazo early in Round 4 with an overhand left and pressed forward as the action heated up. But Collazo seemed content to exchange punches with his back against the ropes in what was a punishing round for both fighters.
After a more tactical Round 5, the fighters chose to exchange punches in the center of the ring in the sixth until Collazo brought the fight to a halt with his devastating right hook.
“I’m a slow starter,” Collazo said. “In the gym when I was sparring, I was doing the same thing. I was getting hit with dumb shots for like the first three rounds, and after three rounds I picked up the pace.
“I guess I’m a distance fighter. I’ve got the experience, but at 35 a lot of people say I don’t have the youth, but I’ve still got the youth.”
Collazo’s stoppage of Vasquez represents his biggest win since he knocked out former 147-pound champion Victor Ortiz in the second round in January 2014.
"I've learned a lot about myself,” Collazo said. “I'm completely dedicated to this sport and ready to keep moving forward. Everyone said I was faded, but now I have the opportunity to keep going.”
In televised undercard action, Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas (18-3, 8 KOs) continued his climb in the 147-pound division, earning a 10-round split decision over Levan Ghvamichava (17-3-1, 13 KOs). It was Ugas' third straight victory since ending a two-year layoff in August.
Eddie Ramirez (16-0, 11 KOs) gained a stoppage of Ryan Karl (13-1, 9 KOs) in a battle of unbeaten prospects when Karl's corner called for an end to the 143-pound bout after Round 9.
Mexican 18-year-old prospect Jose Miguel Borrego (11-0, 10 KOs) scored a first-round KO of Tomas Mendez (23-9, 16 KOs) in a 142-pound fight, landing a crippling left hook to the body that forced the Dominican veteran to take a knee and be counted out.
For a complete look at Vasquez vs Collazo, visit our fight page.