LAS VEGAS – All Chris Colbert has heard and read during the buildup toward his lightweight debut is how hard Jose Valenzuela punches.
The 23-year-old Valenzuela has displayed plenty of power, including a second-round knockdown of Edwin De Los Santos in Valenzuela’s last fight. De Los Santos exposed Valenzuela’s vulnerabilities, though, dropped him twice and stopped him in the third round of what was considered one boxing’s biggest upsets of 2022.
Brooklyn’s Colbert also was on the wrong end of a huge upset in his last fight – a one-sided, 12-round, unanimous-decision defeat to Hector Luis Garcia almost 13 months ago. He accepted this challenging clash versus Valenzuela, which will be contested five pounds above his usual weight class, because he wants to prove his lone loss was an aberration.
“I think he might be more hungrier,” Colbert said after an open workout Wednesday at MGM Grand. “And that’s gonna bring the best fight out of both of us, because we both coming off a loss, so we both gonna be hungry. But I’m a dog. I’m coming to bite. I’m telling you.”
Colbert-Valenzuela is one of three pay-per-view fights Showtime will air as part of the David Benavidez-Caleb Plant undercard Saturday night from MGM Grand Garden Arena (9 p.m. ET; $74.99).
Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs) is known for his boxing ability, not his power. Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs), of Renton, Washington, is clearly considered the puncher in their 10-round, 135-pound bout, but the strong southpaw feels his boxing ability is underrated.
“I can’t tell y’all what his power’s like because I never got hit by him,” Colbert said. “And he never fought me, so everybody that he fought and knocked out, they was never me. So, I can’t tell you what his power gonna be like, until I get hit by him. … We can only find out on Saturday because we have to see what he brings to the table. If his power’s not the way they say it is, then he in for a rude awakening.”
The 26-year-old Colbert is listed by MGM Grand’s sportsbook as a slight favorite, but Valenzuela stands about three inches taller than Colbert and has fought at or near the lightweight limit in his past eight fights. Colbert still cannot envision suffering back-to-back defeats.
“I’m not a loser,” Colbert said. “I don’t have a loser’s mentality. I never been a loser. I never had that mindset, so every fight, to me, is important. And this one might be a little bit more important because I’m coming off a loss. I haven’t lost in over a decade.”
Colbert could’ve faced a less imposing opponent in what will be his first fight since Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs, 3 NC) dropped and dominated the 22-1 favorite in February 2022 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. That defeat cost Colbert a shot at Venezuela’s Roger Gutierrez, who lost the WBA super featherweight title to the Dominican Republic’s Garcia last August 20 at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.
“I’m not desperate,” Colbert said, “because if I was desperate I woulda just came back and fought a bum, got an easy win. I like to prove myself to myself and to my team, that I’m really like who I say I am.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.