Chris Colbert considers himself a junior lightweight, but his upcoming lightweight fight with Jose Valenzuela was an opportunity Colbert couldn’t turn down.
The former WBA super featherweight champion plans to re-establish himself by beating Valenzuela on the David Benavidez-Caleb Plant undercard March 25 at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. Thereafter, though, Colbert intends to return to the 130-pound division to pursue a rematch with Hector Luis Garcia.
The Dominican Republic’s Garcia upset Colbert by unanimous decision to win that WBA belt last February 26 at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Colbert was a 22-1 favorite, yet Garcia dominated him during a 12-round fight Garcia won convincingly on all three scorecards (119-108, 118-109, 118-109).
Brooklyn’s Colbert (16-1, 6 KOs), who was knocked down during the seventh round by Garcia, will fight for the first time since Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs, 3 NC) beat him when he squares off versus Valenzuela in one of three bouts Showtime Pay-Per-View will televise before Benavidez-Plant (9 p.m. ET; $74.99). The 26-year-old Colbert will make his debut at the lightweight limit of 135 pounds against Valenzuela, but he views this as a temporary jump up in weight.
“I gotta go back down and get my belt, man,” Colbert said recently during a virtual press conference. “I gotta get what’s mines, what’s rightfully mines, and that’s to beat up on what’s his name again? Yeah, Hector Luis Garcia. I gotta beat up on that guy first. And then I can come up and fight at 135. Right now, I just – you know what it is? I feel like I have something to prove coming back, making my comeback. I’ve got something to prove and the only way to do it is come up to 135 and beat up somebody that people got a lot of [hopes] for, which I think is a great fighter.”
The 23-year-old Valenzuela, who resides in Renton, Washington, will also attempt to regain some momentum after suffering his first professional loss. Another Dominican southpaw, Edwin De Los Santos, upset Valenzuela by third-round knockout on the Andy Ruiz Jr.-Luis Ortiz undercard September 4 at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles. Valenzuela (12-1, 8 KOs) dropped De Los Santos (15-1, 14 KOs) in the second round, but De Los Santos sent Valenzuela to the canvas once in the second round and again in the third round before their 10-rounder was stopped.
Despite his defeat, Valenzuela stands about three inches taller than Colbert, has fought at lightweight for most of his career and is considered a puncher.
“This fight, they proposed,” Colbert said. “I went for the Frank Martin fight [on December 17], but the Frank Martin fight fell through. So, I said, ‘All right, bring me somebody else that got a big name. Like, let’s get somebody else that got a big name, that’s gonna come and bring a fight, to make the world be like, Oh, nah, this guy Colbert is – he ain’t playing.’ I don’t like swimming with fishes. I like swimming with sharks. So, that’s what I’m coming to do March 25th, swim with sharks, and try to swim and don’t get wet.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.