Monday, February 3, 2020

Who the hell is Clay Collard?

"Who the hell is Clay Collard?"

This was the question that many fans asked themselves as they witnessed Utah's "Cassius" Clay Collard (6-2-3, 2 KOs) pummel San Antonio's 19-year-old prospect Raymond Guajardo (5-1, 4 KOs) into submission through the first and second rounds on Saturday night's PBC card on FS1. The fight that was stopped at the 1:42 mark of the second round by referee Keith Hughes, as Collard fought like a man looking for the upset as soon as the opening bell rang. For the entirety of the short fight at the Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, with the exception of a knockdown scored by Guajardo in the first round, Collard looked like a man fighting a boy.

The first knockdown of the contest came in the opening frame when Collard landed a right hand to Guajardo's head. Later in the round, a Collard left uppercut to the head and right hand to the body made Guajardo drop his gloves to the canvas to keep himself up on his feet.

Seconds later in the first round, Collard, looking for the knockout, came forward against the prospect, who clipped him with right and left hooks to the head. Collard pulled himself up from the canvas, and continued to brawl with Guajardo for the remainder of the round. 

The third and final knockdown came in the second round, when an aggressive Collard landed a series of punches on Guajardo, who at this point had blood streaming out of his nostrils. Guajardo desperately tried to keep his guard up and return blows, but was clearly out on his feet when referee Keith Hughes jumped in to stop the contest.

Hardcore fans and insiders in the worlds of MMA and boxing will certainly recognize the name Clay Collard. Before turning to boxing in 2017, Collard had fought as a professional MMA fighter since 2011. With four appearances on UFC cards between 2014 and 2015, Collard currently holds a record of 17-8-1. His notable opponents as a cage fighter include Justin Buchholz, Max Holloway, Alex White, and Gabriel Benítez. Collard went three rounds with Max Holloway in 2014. Holloway went on to capture, and hold the UFC Featherweight Title from 2016 to 2019. 

Collard's last victory as a boxer was also a victory over a previously undefeated fighter, Quashawn Toler on January 3, 2020. He has now been victorious in five of his last six appearances in a boxing ring. 

This fight goes to show that the course of a fighter's career can be altered with one punch, or in this case, several punches. Although, Guajardo's career is far from over, the young fighter must put this setback behind him by getting back in the gym, training hard, and returning to action as soon as he is physically and mentally able to do so.

For those of us who watched Saturday night's broadcast, it was noted on numerous occasions by PBC ringside commentator Ray Flores that Guajardo vs. Collard was supposed to be the 26 year-old-old's final appearance in a boxing ring, as he was preparing to transition into the Professional Fighters League as an MMA pro. During the post fight interview, which was interrupted by a defeated 
Guajardo to say "thanks" to his supporters, Collard made it clear that he may not be ready to leave prizefighting behind.

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