LUIS COLLAZO has revealed how close he was to suicide after suffering from depression and taking drugs.
The former WBA welterweight champion salvaged his career six years ago when he discovered God and gave himself the nickname ‘God’s Way’.
Collazo returns to BoxNation on Sunday when he faces fellow Amir Khan victim Samuel Vargas for the WBO intercontinental welterweight title at New York’s Madison Square Garden Theatre.
It’s a last chance saloon fight for both men, but Collazo is relieved to still be alive let alone being one of the star turns at boxing’s Mecca in his home city.
Collazo, 37, said: “Now, it's Luis 'God's Way' Collazo. You know, since the last six years I'm now a born-again Christian.
“I've had a long road, and I went through depression six years ago. I started getting into narcotics, as far as ecstasy and weed – I was in a dark place at the time.
“I had a one-on-one with the Lord. I'm just grateful I'm able to be here. I thought about taking my life several times back then.
“God knows all and he's never early, never late. He's always on time. I had everything the world could offer, but for some reason I just felt empty inside.
“I had a void in my heart, and God completed it. I'm just enjoying every moment and taking it for what it is."
Collazo lost on points to Khan in Las Vegas in May 2014, while the Bolton speedster was pushed all the way by Vargas six months ago.
Southpaw Collazo also lost in seven rounds to Keith Thurman in July 2015 in a world title challenge, but has knocked out Sammy Vazquez and outpointed Bryant Perella since then.
The win over Perella last August was a majority verdict, but the Brooklyn boxer forced the pace and looked a clear winner.
Collazo became a father in his mid-teens - his eldest daughter is 23 and he is a grandfather of three. That is all the motivation he needs to chase one final big payday.
He added: “I have two grandsons and a granddaughter. Xavier is 5 years old, and Skyane, she's seven years old. The new one is Octavia, he's one.
“They're just like a bundle of joy. Having love for your kids is one thing, but having love for them is just totally like, over the top. They get away with more things than anything – I love it!”
Canada based Colombian Vargas was well beaten over ten rounds by Khan, but dropped the Briton in round two and stunned him in the final three minutes before losing widely on the scorecards.
He has teamed up with new trainer Rudy Hernandez and reckons he will be too smart for Collazo this weekend.
Vargas said: “After being in the ring with some of the great guys I've fought, you realise that you have to box. Anybody can fight.
"I feel really confident in this camp, no complaints. I'm learning something every day with Rudy. I'm happy with where I'm at.
"Luis Collazo has all the experience in the world. He fought Shane Mosley, he's fought everybody. Boxing is boxing – if you have two hands and a heartbeat, you can do anything.
"I don't really care about fighting a southpaw. It's a fight at the end of the day. You have to prepare for it and make the right adjustments.”