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Phl-Puerto Rico box rivalry erupts anew

Puerto Rican world champion Oscar Collazo faces his third Filipino foe — Garen Diagan — on 26 August in San Juan. | PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF Golden Boy Promotions

Boxing’s other fancied rivalry — Philippines versus Puerto Rico — takes the spotlight late this month when Oscar Collazo makes the first defense of the World Boxing Organization minimumweight crown against Garen Diagan at the Coliseo Roberto Clemente in the capital of San Juan.

Last May, Collazo took the WBO 105-lb title with a sensational stoppage of Filipino Melvin Jerusalem in Indio, California.

Jointly promoted by Miguel Cotto Promotion and Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, Collazo will enter the ring carrying a 7-0 win-loss record with five knockouts.

“I feel super honored to return to fight where I made my pro-debut, and make my first defense there,” Collazo said.

Collazo’s victory over Jerusalem made him the fastest to become a world champion from Puerto Rico.

But Collazo swears Diagan, who packs a 10-3 ledger with five knockouts, is someone not to be messed with given the Philippines; storied boxing history.

“Like all Filipinos, my opponent comes to fight. He is a strong boxer who has come with two great victories. He is tall and he uses his reach well. We have everything planned and we know the hands that I have can attack and make damage.”

“I just want to continue thanking my fans for the support they have given me, and I want them to support me on August 26 to continue making history together with all my beautiful people from the Island,” Collazo concluded.

Like its storied rivalry with Mexico, the Philippines-Puerto Rico head-to-head throughout the years is legendary that stretches back to the days of Flash Elorde in the 1960s against Carlos Ortiz, Ben Villaflor opposite Sammy Serrano in the 1970s and Manny Pacquiao versus Miguel Cotto in the 2000s.

Diagan, also a southpaw like Collazo, fights out of the boxing hotbed of General Santos City.

“Collazo is a world champion (and) I will bring my A-game,” Diagan, nicknamed “Hellboy,” said.

Apart from Jerusalem, Collazo had also beaten another Filipino, Victorio Saludar, in 2022.

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