Colbert and Valenzuela Both Confident Ahead of Crossroads Clash
Before their most recent outings, both Chris Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs) and Jose “Rayo” Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs) were highly rated prospects that were looked at as surefire future world champions. They were both upset in 2022, and now meet in a crossroads clash where the winner will reassert himself as a legit contender. The loser will have two consecutive defeats and will be sent “to the back of the line” as far as contenders are concerned, according to Valenzuela’s trainer Jose Benavidez, Sr. Many people around the sport have a similar belief, which makes this a high stakes matchup that impacts the future of both young men.
Chris Colbert was a US National Champion as an amateur and qualified for the 2016 US Olympic trials. He opted to forgo the trials due to the politics surrounding it, and turned pro in May of 2015. He was originally given the nickname “Lil B-Hop”, as people around him on his rise compared his skillset to that of Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins. In recent years, he moved away from comparing himself to a former fighter and wanted to make a name for himself. He now goes by “Primetime”.
Colbert rose up the ranks quickly and defeated former WBA champion Jezzrel Corrales (26-5, 10 KOs) by unanimous decision to claim the “interim” WBA super featherweight title in just his 14th fight. He would go on to make two title defenses against Jamie Arboleda (19-2, 14 KOs) and former 126lb title challenger Tugstsogt Nyambayar (12-2-1, 9 KOs), both of which he beat decisively. That set him up for his first world title shot against reigning WBA champ Roger Gutierrez (27-4-1, 21 KOs). Gutierrez was forced to pull out of the fight due to injury and Hector Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs) stepped in as the late replacement opponent. What happened on fight night came as a shock to virtually everyone. Garcia dominated Colbert throughout the twelve round duration. He dropped him in the seventh round, and after that, it was all one way traffic as Colbert’s output dwindled.
Rayo Valenzuela did not have the pedigree of Colbert coming up, but he was still an accomplished amateur. He won the Ringside World Championship and Washington State Golden Gloves Championship in 2015. He met the Benavidez family at 18-years-old, and after they became aware of his situation, they had him move in with them. The move to live with the Benavidez family proved to be a great pairing, and Valenzuela’s pro career got off to a hot start.
Valenzuela started his career 11-0, and was awarded his first pay-per-view opportunity on the undercard of Errol Spence, Jr. vs Yordenis Ugas last April. He knocked out former WBC titleholder Francisco Vargas (27-5-2, 19 KOs) in the first round, and the hype around him reached an all-time high. After that win, he was linked to potential fights against top contenders including Isaac Cruz (24-2-1, 17 KOs) and Frank Martin (17-0, 12 KOs). His next fight was on another pay-per-view; he was featured on the undercard of Luis Ortiz and Andy Ruiz’s card from September of last year. He was preparing to fight former Colbert opponent and world champion Jezzrel Corrales, but a visa issue forced Corrales to withdraw from the bout on the week of the fight. Edwin De Los Santos (15-1, 14 KOs) stepped in on short notice and ran with the opportunity he was provided. After being knocked down in the second round, De Los Santos rallied to drop Valenzuela in the same round, and once more in the third round before he was awarded the knockout victory.
One can only wonder how Colbert has recovered mentally from a prolonged beating like the one Hector Garcia gave him, but during the press conference yesterday he was adamant that the defeat was behind him and that he has full confidence in his abilities to bounce back.
“I wouldn’t say I’m really desperate. I’m not really desperate. I know what happened to me in my last fight, but I don’t make no excuses. Everything happens for a reason I believe, and like I said I’m not really desperate. I just know I’m gonna get a win on Saturday night. I know we got a tough competitor in front of us, but it is what it is. It’s another day, another dollar for me. I’m gonna do what I do best and that’s go out there and win”.
Valenzuela’s opening statement saw him share insight into how he has a clearer head going into this matchup, and how he firmly believes that he will be too much for Colbert to handle.
“He’s in for a long night. I’ve gone back to the drawing board. I’ve prepared tremendously, focused a lot in myself, cleaned everything around me. I’m ready. It’s gonna be a good night of boxing, and he’s in for a long night.
Colbert then made a joke about how he’s no stranger to “long nights”, and explained why he believes he will win tomorrow night.
“He said I’m in for a long night, all my nights is long. I ain’t known for knocking nobody out ,so it’s no pressure on me. I’m always ready to go, 10 rounds, 12 rounds, whatever I got to go. I ain’t really trippin.”
“I’m just the overall better fighter. If all you got is power to come beat me you got another thing coming. He better make sure his toolbox is full. “
Valenzuela responded to Colbert claiming that all he has is power. He also touched on why he believes he will be the one to come out on top.
“I’m glad that’s what he thinks all I got his power. I bring a lot more to the table.
“I think I got more advantages. I’m the natural 135-pounder. This is his first fight at 135, he’s coming up from 130. He got stopped by a 130-pounder…”
Colbert immediately interjected, letting it be known that he was not stopped in his defeat, and that it was Valenzuela who in fact was.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. I never got stopped, you talking about yourself. I never got stopped, brother. Relax.”
Valenzuela then corrected himself, but still maintained that Colbert was beaten down against Hector Garcia and that this is a step too far coming off of a loss like that.
“Okay he was dropped. He was hurt. He crumbled versus Hector. Saturday night I’m gonna show him why the 135lb division is so talked about.”
Colbert took this moment to once again poke fun at Valenzuela’s comment, asking him if he has indeed fully recovered from his knockout loss.
“Wait, hold on, are you good though? You good? You mean you got stopped. You got your head punched in. You got stopped.
Valenzuela replied saying he is most definitely good, and that we will truly find out on fight night.
“Imma show you, man. Imma show you Saturday how good I am.”
This is the type of undercard matchup that we need more of in the sport of boxing. Two highly rated boxers who have each built up organic fanbases matched up in a fight that could go either way. I believe that Colbert is the more skilled operator of the two. But like Rayo said, he is the natural lightweight and I could see his size and power making the difference in this one also. Both guys took this fight fresh off of their first career defeats, and I give them both credit for taking on a challenge like this instead of slowly rebuilding.
The Chris Colbert vs Jose “Rayo” Valenzuela fight is a ten-round lightweight battle and will be the second fight on this weekend’s Showtime PPV broadcast. The card beings at 9:00PM EST, and you won’t want to miss any of the fights on the main card.