Billy Collins Jr. was a promising up-and-comer in the boxing world in the 1980s. His father, William Sr., was a professional boxer before him. Collins Jr. was destined for greatness, and he proved it early in his career. Heading into his bout against veteran Luis Resto in 1983, Collins Jr. was a perfect 14-0 and had 11 knockouts to his name. Eight of Collins’ knockouts came in the first three rounds. What transpired during that fight and the repercussions that followed became one of the most tragic stories in boxing history.
Billy Collins Jr. was a rising boxing star in the 1980s
Billy Collins Jr. was born in 1961 to a passionate boxing family. His father fought as a welterweight for many years in the professional circle, and he raised Collins Jr. to do the same. Collins Jr. was trained by his father growing up, and he turned pro when he was just 19 years old.
Before his middleweight bout with Luis Resto in 1983, Collins Jr. had already made a name for himself in the boxing world. He won the first 14 fights of his professional career, and he never really came close to losing any of them.
Collins Jr. put up a heroic fight against the 28-year-old Resto. Despite taking a litany of power punches throughout the fight, Collins Jr. lasted the full 10 rounds. His face was badly bruised afterward, and it didn’t take long for him to find out why.
Luis Resto used illegal padding that permanently blurred Billy Collins Jr.’s vision
After the fight, Luis Resto went over to Billy Collins Jr.’s corner to hug the young fighter. He continued the display of sportsmanship by shaking hands with every member of Collins Jr.’s corner, and that’s when they realized what Resto had done.
William Collins Sr., Billy’s father, shook Resto’s glove and immediately noticed something wasn’t right. He held Resto down and called the referee over to investigate. His gloves were abnormally hard, but Resto denied any wrongdoing at the time.
The New York State Boxing Commission launched an investigation into the fight shortly after, and what they found was shocking. Resto and his trainer, Panama Lewis, removed the padding from Resto’s gloves and filled them with plaster so his punches would deal more damage. That’s exactly what they did.
Resto’s illegal gloves damaged Collins Jr. so severely that his vision was permanently blurred. Collins Jr. tore his iris during the fight, and he was told he would never box again.
Neither boxer fought again, but Collins Jr.’s story ended in tragedy
After the investigation, Resto and Lewis got what they deserved. Lewis was banned from professional boxing forever, and Resto was suspended for a year. However, he never fought again. Both men spent over two years in prison for their crimes.
As for Collins Jr., he never returned to the ring, but that wasn’t even the saddest part of his story. After being told he could never fight again, he fell into a deep depression. Collins Jr. was a promising, undefeated boxer at the time, but a cheater derailed his whole career when he was just 21 years old.
In March of 1984, Collins Jr. was involved in a fatal car crash. According to World Boxing News, many believe it was purposeful due to his depression. Luis Resto didn’t just end the career of a future boxing champion, he ended his life in the most senseless and unforgivable boxing match in history.