Boxing served up a busy Saturday this past weekend, making it harder to pick Who Won the Weekend. Three major cards in the UK which ran pretty much at the same time kept channel changers busy as fans tried to keep up with everything that was happening in Belfast, Manchester and Bournemouth.
To supplement the trio of trans-Atlantic cards, a Golden Boy show at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, rounded off a packed day as most of the time zones had already passed into Sunday.
The upshot of this is there are plenty of candidates for the NY Fights writers and friends of the site to opine on this week.
Revenge was served up. World titles changed hands. A road warrior further enhanced his reputation and a Puerto Rican boxer won a world title in only his seventh professional fight, a record for a fighter from the island that has such a proud boxing heritage.
Let's get right to it and find out who everyone thinks owned the weekend that was in boxing.
A Couple Of Mentions For Chris Billam-Smith And Shane McGuigan
James Lupton, founder SlothBoxx YouTube channel, boxing interviewer and writer: Chris Billam-Smith and Shane McGuigan, that's who won the weekend. They conjured up a winning game plan against a man they both know very well, Lawrence Okolie. Billam-Smith turned a dream into reality, claiming a world championship in his hometown of Bournemouth.
Honourable mention to Leigh Wood for getting revenge on his ill-disciplined opponent, Lara, who had already lost his title on the scales 24 hours before entering the ring.
Scott Murray, UK boxing promoter, owner BarSport and Premier Suite: The main highlight from the weekend for me was of course being ringside in Bournemouth to watch “The Gentleman,” Chris Billam-Smith win the world title in magnificent fashion.
His win proved that heart really does win fights, even if Okolie was a shocking spoiler.
The years of hard work, meticulous planning and guidance from coach Shane McGuigan paid off. Shane McGuigan is arguably one of the best trainers in the world today.
I want to mention the main undercard fight from this outdoor show. Birmingham, England, super welterweight hardman Sam Eggington did a 5th round demolition job on local favourite Joe Pigford to win the WBA International title. I love it when the underdog beats the hype job, especially when he's one of ours!
Who Won the Weekend Love For Luis Alberto Lopez
Lucas Ketelle, boxing media titan: Luis Alberto Lopez. The guy has one of the best resumes in boxing – six b-side wins.
Mike Crissinger Jr., boxing ace: In a massive weekend of fights in the UK where we saw Lawrence Okolie dethroned by Chris Billam-Smith and Leigh Wood recapture his title, if anyone won the weekend, I'd go with Luis Alberto Lopez. To again go into a hostile environment and deliver via one punch KO against Michael Conlan says plenty about his character and abilities.
The whole division should take notice because he's a problem.
Matt Andrzejewski, boxing columnist: Who won the weekend? Luis Alberto Lopez. He thoroughly took apart Michael Conlan and scored a highlight reel knockout to close the show.
Lopez's stature definitely improved and the fact that he still showed to be very hittable should make many potential foes much more interested in getting in the ring with him. He is going to get something much bigger based on his performance on Saturday in Belfast.
Matthew Pomara, writer, Long Island correspondent: Luis Alberto Lopez with a great KO.
Acknowledging Leigh Wood's Revenge Over Mauricio Lara
Gayle Falkenthal, NYF West Coast Bureau Chief: Leigh Wood, that's who won the weekend. (NOTE: Click here to read Gayle's recap of the Wood-Lara rematch.) After his loss to Mauricio Lara when trainer Ben Davison threw in the towel, Wood dusted himself off and got back in the ring for the rematch a mere 100 days later. Lara blew through the weight limit but Wood pressed on.
Wood gave Bronco a solid thrashing. Upon winning, he donned a red sombrero.
It was the same sombrero Lara wore for his ring walk in the first fight. Wood took it back to the gym with him and used it as motivation. What a delicious act of badassery. Viva Mexico cabrones! Bring on Luis Alberto Lopez.
Tim Brown Jr., Tennessee based sports investor, boxing ace: I think beyond a shadow of a doubt Leigh Wood had the best weekend in boxing. Wood took a dangerous gamble by betting on himself against Lara who couldn't make the weight and had only sparked him out savagely three months prior, making him even more dangerous.
By winning the title back in a dominating fashion, Wood firmly put himself in the sweepstakes for a possible featherweight unification scrap with the dangerous Luis Alberto “Venado” Lopez.
Oscar Collazo Becomes A Puerto Rican Record Setter
Jacob Rodriguez, NYF New York State Editor: For me, Oscar Collazo won the weekend. Oscar's beginning looked bleak because the Filipino champion controlled the early rounds. However, Oscar listened to his corner, attacked Jerusalem's body, and broke the champion down.
Collazo put on an impressive performance and TOOK the champion's title.
Not only did Oscar win a world title, he made history by becoming the Puerto Rican boxer to win a world title faster than any champion before him. That alone already puts his name among the island's greatest champions. If that doesn't win him who won the weekend, I don't know what will.
Colin Morrison, NYF UK Editor: Every winner is worthy of this accolade this weekend, so I'm going to shout them all out while being in agreement with Jacob that Oscar Collazo's triumph just stands out that little bit more for who won the weekend.
Chris Billam-Smith becoming WBO cruiserweight champion and ending Lawrence Okolie's unbeaten run was a brilliant achievement by the Bournemouth based boxer. Leigh Wood had his revenge in style – comfortably seeing off the challenge of Bronco Lara while Luis Alberto Lopez lit up the highlight reels with his violent knockout of Michael Conlan.
My hat is tipped to all of the above. Oscar Collazo gets to keep my hat though. Breaking down the vastly more experienced Melvin Jerusalem to rip the WBO 105-pound title from his grasp is seriously good going for a boxer in only his seventh professional bout.
Becoming Puerto Rico's fastest ever world champion is the cherry on top of the cake. Well done Oscar Collazo on making history.
Michael Conlan Gets A Shout Despite Defeat
Michael Woods, NYF founder/Editor-in-Chief: Who won the weekend? Michael “Mick” Conlan for me. I know, I know, he lost. Ah, but he proved his worth as a human being in doing so.
That is a role model.
EDITOR NOTE: Thanks to Colin Morrison for taking the reins on this Who Won the Weekend column. And, also, being quite classy and acknowledging the United States' holiday, Memorial Day.