The two welterweights waged war until an accidental clash of heads in the fourth round injured Collazo, forcing the ref to halt the bout Saturday night on FOX PBC Fight Night.
A smile creased Eimantas Stanionis’ lips and his white gumshield surfaced as he headed back to his corner after the second round of his defining fight Saturday night against former world champion Luis Collazo.
Stanionis loved the mayhem—and wanted more.
Unfortunately, the 26-year-old Lithuanian welterweight didn’t get his wish in the FOX PBC Fight Night main event before 3,123 at The Armory, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The scheduled 10-round bout was called a no-contest with 29 seconds left in the fourth round, after an accidental head butt opened a cut on Collazo’s right eyelid and he was unable to continue.
“It's disappointing of course,” Stanionis said. “He's a tough fighter and he's a warrior, so it's unfortunate it had to be like this. I was just getting started. I knew he was going to come forward like that and that the headbutts would be a factor. It is what it is.
“He was coming into me and I wanted to show that I'm strong too and I could fight him off. It didn't feel like a big collision but it must have been worse for him.”
Stanionis (13-0, 9 KOs) was getting the better of Collazo (39-8, 20 KOs) when referee Charlie Fitch waved it over at 2:31 of the fourth round.
From the opening bell, Stanionis and Collazo stepped into a phonebooth and went at each other. With his forehead fastened on Collazo’s right shoulder, Stanionis worked inside to the body, often stepping back and nailing Collazo. Collazo’s face was a reddish blur after only two rounds.
Though he is 40, the southpaw Collazo was still a game competitor. He would snap a few punches downstairs and was willing to stand and trade with the younger fighter. But with :36 left in the fourth, Stanionis leaned into Collazo with his head and struck Collazo on the right side of his face, opening a cut on Collazo’s right eyelid.
Fitch called a halt at :29 left in the round. Fitch ruled it an accidental head butt. At the time of the halt, Stanionis had outlanded Collazo 104-50.
The punch stat disparity shouted Stanionis’ dominance. Collazo stated that he would retire after fight, ending a courageous 48-bout, 21-year career.
“Coming into the fight, we knew that we could test him,” Collazo said. “We were both coming in at the same time and that led to the clash of heads. It happens a lot.
“I love this sport and I still have the passion for it, but it's getting frustrating. I'm blessed to have the career that I've had. It's on to the next chapter of my life.”
Stanionis, on the other hand, is just getting started. “I feel great,” he said. “I want to get back in the ring as soon as possible. Collazo always brings a great fight so I knew it was going to be a lot of action. He's tested a lot of young prospects and taken them into deep waters. I wanted to entertain people and give the fans a great fight.”
Gabriel Maestre decisions Mykal Fox
Gabriel Maestre made a worthy sacrifice. He bypassed a shot in Tokyo, Japan, for Olympic gold with the thought that he would be fighting 5-foot-10 Canadian southpaw Cody Crowley. But when Crowley fell out due to COVID-19, another fighter had to be looked up to replace him.
The 5-10½ Maestre didn’t think he would be looking up, and up, and up at towering 6-3½ southpaw Mykal Fox for a chance at the interim WBA world welterweight championship.
The 34-year-old Maestre was a two-time Olympian for Venezuela. On a week’s notice, Fox, 25, took the fight looking to rebound from a 10-round decision loss in August 2020 to Luke Santamaria, who beat Devon Alexander earlier in the night.
Judges David Singh, Gloria Martinez and John Mariano saw a different fight than many at ringside saw. Maestre was awarded a unanimous decision by Singh (114-113), Martinez (117-110) and Mariano (115-112), even though Fox knocked down Maestre in the second and won the paper fight on the punch stat sheet.
Maestre (4-0, 3 KOs) was magnanimous in victory, willing to grant Fox a rematch.
“The strategy was just to keep fighting him for 12 rounds,” Maestre said. “I just wanted to stay close to him and make sure I kept throwing punches. Fox definitely surprised me. He was a very good boxer. When I was knocked down, I didn't see the punch coming. He didn't really hurt me though so it was no problem to get up and keep going.
“I think the key was that I was throwing multiple punches and combinations. That was the strategy from start to finish. Fox fought very well and he deserves a rematch. It was a very close fight. If my team says that’s what they want, I’ll be ready to fight him again.”
With 2:51 left in the second round, Fox (22-3, 5 KOs) dropped Maestre for the first time as a pro with a fist-turning, blunt counter left to the chin. Maestre responded well. Poised and composed, Maestre crowded Fox against the ropes.
Fox used his length and distance exceptionally well. When Maestre, who went beyond four rounds for the first time, tried loading up, Fox was not there. The times Maestre was forced to reach Fox, he left himself exposed for Fox to drop a left to his midsection.
By the seventh, Maestre’s left eye was beginning to swell. In a microcosm of the fight in the last minute of the seventh, Fox ducked under a Maestre left hook and went back to poking Maestre with the jab.
Maestre was aggressive throughout, constantly charging Fox. He also fired the heavier punches.
“I was stunned by the decision,” Fox said. “There's no way he won more rounds than me. I knocked him down. I hurt him. I don't know what else I was supposed to do. I don't know what the judges were looking at.
“I've definitely fought fighters tougher than Maestre. I hit him with jabs all night. Look at his face and tell me he won that fight.”
Luke Santamaria notches a career victory by outpointing former champ Devon Alexander
Luke Santamaria, the 23-year-old from Garden Grove, Ca., did not start the way he wanted, but he finished the way he needed against former two-division champion Devon Alexander.
Behind effective counter punching and a solid body attack, Santamaria (12-2-1, 7 KOs) tallied the biggest victory of his career with a unanimous 10-round decision in a super welterweightweight bout over 34-year-old Alexander.
Judges Mike Fitzgerald and Patrick Morley both had it 98-92 for Santamaria, while judge Tim Taggart had it slightly closer at 97-93.
Alexander, the southpaw from St. Louis, Mo., had not been in the ring since he was stopped in the sixth round by Ivan Redkach in June 2019.
“I want to thank Devon for giving me this opportunity,” Santamaria said. “He’s a great fighter. I got the opportunity and I showed up again. My legs were the key for me, he was trying to catch me with the left and I was able to anticipate it. I was too quick on my feet for him. My footwork was the key. I'm ready to keep stepping up the competition.”
Alexander (27-7-1, 14 KOs) was working with respected trainer Mike Stafford with the first time. He started well and tapered off quickly.
There may be a reason.
“I hurt my right bicep in the first round and it really held me back from getting my offense going,” said Alexander, who landed the same number of total punches as Santamaria (82). “I tried to shake it out as the fight went on, but I just couldn't get anything going. I'm disappointed.”
For a closer look at Stanionis vs Collazo, check out our fight night page.