Clay Collard and Ryan Ault were broken, groping in the dark for answers when they intersected at a special juncture in their lives recognizing the dormant talent in one another.
In 2015, Collard was curled up in the back of his van, after being kicked out of the house where he was living. Finding a place to eat and shower was a daily ordeal for six months. He had no one. He kept telling himself I’m better than this.
At the same time, Ault, 42, had grown tired of boxing. He gave up on it.
“It’s the truth, we came together at the worst part of our lives,” admitted Ault, Collard’s manager and trainer who was once under the tutelage of the great Archie Moore. “I was out of fighting and gave up on it. Clay wanted to reignite his career and he didn’t know how to do it. People wrote him off. They thought he was through. He was taking tough fights on short notice, for short money. Who could blame him?
“Clay needed someone who entered his life and be an old-school coach. He says himself today, ‘We’re family.’ We push harder than anyone else. We realize we have to be the better out there, and we know that. We show up we know we can’t make one mistake. Realistically, we only have one loss—and that was to a monster (Bektemir Melikuziev) on four days’ notice.
“Our bond is why we win fights.”
“Cassius” Clay Collard (7-2-3, 2 knockouts) is one of the best boxing stories in 2020. He’s defeated three-straight undefeated prospects—where Collard was tabbed as the B-side fighter and expected to lose.
It didn’t stop him from vanquishing Quashawn Toler (9-0, 7 KOs), Raymond Guajardo (5-0, 4 KOs) and David Kaminsky (6-0, 3 KOs) from the undefeated ranks.
A-side or B-side, it doesn’t matter to Collard.
He’ll always look at himself in the mirror as an underdog. That’s what he was supposed to be against previously unbeaten Kaminsky on June 18. It fueled Collard in busting up Kaminsky, yet coming away with a split-decision when judge Patricia Morse Jarman somehow saw it 58-56 for Kaminsky, before thankfully being overruled by judges Lisa Giampa and Dave Moretti, who each scored it 58-56 for Collard.
The combined record of Collard’s previous 12 opponents was 65-3. He is unique, because he also fights MMA, where his overall record is 18-8, including going 1-3 in the UFC, which includes a setback to former featherweight champ Max Holloway.
“I don’t believe that I’m a B-side fighter, and Ryan always tells me that they’re bringing us in to lose,” Collard said. “Ryan lets them know we’re not coming in there to lose. I fight everyone like they’re the next world champ.”
When Collard signed with the UFC, his personal life was a wreck. He had so many people help him reach that high point that after a few losses, the roof caved in.
“I was kicked out of where I was living, staying in my van and still trying to make it to practice,” Collard recalled. “I was young and going through a hard time. It was so hard to eat and even find a place to shower. I would shower at the gym, because that was the only place I had to go. I didn’t really have any help and I had no credit.