In the realm of combat sports, boxing stands as a testament to both glory and shadows. The poignant tale of Billy Collins Jr., a promising American boxer, serves as a stark reminder of the sport’s complex narrative, marred by instances of corruption and exploitation.
Collins embarked on his professional boxing journey in 1981, displaying extraordinary prowess by conquering 14 opponents. However, his auspicious career met an untimely demise during his 15th match against Luis Resto in 1983, unraveling a shocking turn of events that shook the boxing community to its core.
Expectations were high for Collins, deemed the favorite against Resto, a perceived “journeyman.” However, the match unfolded as a grim spectacle, with Resto dominating Collins for 10 grueling rounds, leaving the latter’s face unrecognizable due to severe swelling around his eyes.
The post-match confusion reached its peak when Collins’ father inspected Resto’s gloves, sensing an unusual thinness. Prompted by suspicions, he urged the New York State Boxing Commission to launch an investigation.
The investigation revealed a reprehensible truth—Resto’s trainer, Panama Lewis, had tampered with the gloves, removing the padding. Shockingly, Resto had also reinforced his knuckles with plaster casts, transforming them into formidable weapons. Lewis and Resto faced legal consequences, serving over two years in prison for assault, conspiracy, and criminal possession of a deadly weapon.
Collins, however, paid an even higher price. His physical injuries extended beyond the visible damage, encompassing a torn iris that permanently blurred his vision, abruptly ending his boxing career.
The aftermath of this tragedy cast a lingering shadow on Collins’ life. Plunged into deep despair, he succumbed to drinking, and a year later, his life was tragically cut short in a car accident, shrouded in speculation of intent.
The saga of Luis Resto and Panama Lewis serves as a grim reminder of the dark underbelly of boxing, where deceit and tragedy can alter lives forever. The repercussions echoed not only in the courtrooms but in the poignant narrative of a boxer who never saw the full extent of his potential due to an act of malicious betrayal.