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Bare Knuckles
Jeff Pearlman
October 26, 1998
The night Billy Collins fought Luis Resto, something was terribly wrong with Resto's gloves. The beating Collins took cost him his career—and maybe his life
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October 26, 1998

Bare Knuckles

The night Billy Collins fought Luis Resto, something was terribly wrong with Resto's gloves. The beating Collins took cost him his career—and maybe his life

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Over the next three days the gloves found their way to a state police laboratory in upstate New York. That's where a three-quarter-inch hole was found on the lower palm side of each glove. Resto's right glove weighed 6.92 ounces, the left 6.96. Each was supposed to weigh at least 7.95 ounces.

On July 1, the commission announced that the gloves had been intentionally tampered with. Prenderville permanently revoked the New York boxing licenses of Lewis and Pedro Alvarado, the two men in charge of Resto's corner, and suspended Resto for at least a year. The bout, which for a few fleeting moments had been Resto's crowning glory, was deemed a "no contest."

The day after the fight Ray Collins and his father flew home to Tennessee, where they were greeted at Nashville's Municipal Airport by a throng of supporters holding signs and hailing Ray a hero. As they drew closer to the crowd, however, Ray heard something that foreshadowed the harshness of his remaining days: shocked silence.

Hidden behind a pair of sunglasses, Collins's discolored face "was double its normal size," says Mark Young, a longtime family friend. "He was hardly recognizable." His demeanor, usually chipper, was subdued. Andrea took one look at him and broke into tears. "I expected him to be beat up," she recalls, "but it was like he was straight from a horror movie. It was disgusting, but more than that, really sad."

Over the next couple of weeks Ray and his father visited seven ocular specialists, all of whom confirmed the worst: Ray had suffered a torn iris in his right eye. The result would be permanently blurred vision. There would be no more boxing.

Ray started drinking. He smoked pot. He and Andrea began fighting. He hit her often. "Everything Billy'd ever wanted was taken from him," says Young. "He thought he'd be different—that he'd make money for his family and go on to great things. After that fight he realized he'd be raising his family the same way he was raised. To him that was a terrible thing."

He tried getting work but had little success. His first job, painting houses, lasted a couple of weeks, until the boss, concerned about Collins's vision problems, let him go. He was also laid off after a brief stint at a burlap bag factory.

In July 1983 Edward Sadler, a Nashville lawyer, filed a $65 million lawsuit on behalf of the Collins family against Resto, Lewis, Alvarado, Perez, both inspectors, Top Rank and Everlast Sporting Goods. "We figured that was our ticket," says Billy Collins. "There was no way we could lose. Look at the case. My son lost his ability to earn a living because of gross negligence and a criminal act."

Ray didn't share his father's hope. He hated going out of his apartment, hated the whispers, hated people knowing what he was...what he would never be again. Ray and Andrea had a girl, Alisha, who had her father's eyes. Her arrival didn't lift Ray's spirits for long. He was violent and moody. Andrea moved out of the apartment and took Alisha with her.

At 22, Ray was unemployed and broke. "He was very depressed," Johnny Duke, a friend, would recall. "He didn't believe things would get better."

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