- Flashy American fighter Chris Colbert returns to the ring Saturday in a PBC on Showtime spectacle.
- Colbert fights Hector Garcia, who was a late replacement for champion Roger Gutierrez.
- Colbert wants to win, secure a title shot again, and box Shakur Stevenson down the line.
The proud New Yorker returns to the ring Saturday at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas for a super featherweight showdown against Hector Garcia, which Showtime will broadcast from 7 p.m. PT.
The main event brings together two unbeaten fighters, with Colbert determined to put on a show, defeat his late replacement opponent with ease, set up a world title shot, and build a rivalry with Stevenson.
Colbert, 25, spoke to Insider before throwing fists in his 17th pro fight, and he talks almost as fast as he fights.
It’s hard to keep up with him as he spoke about women, family, combat sports, and even started interviewing this reporter until the conversation got back on the rails.
“Do you think I’m world-class?” he asked me before repeating himself because he did not feel like I answered the question. Suddenly, I knew how it felt to be pressed for an answer.
“I appreciate that,” he said, eventually satisfied with my response. “Listen, I don’t get mad at a people’s opinion. It’s like an asshole. Everybody got one, right?”
This is par for the course for Colbert, who was equally energetic at the final, pre-fight press conference Thursday, which took place inside a hidden speakeasy joint at The Cosmo.
In the middle of the presser, Colbert took control of the entire event. He commanded the mic and asked questions to his weekend opponent Garcia, as opposed to the host Brian Custer or the media in attendance.
For some, it’s too much. Garcia called the Colbert show “a circus.” For others, it may highlight a fun, motor-mouthed athlete rising through the sport.
Showtime Sports President Stephen Espinoza watched the press event unfold from the back of the slick, prohibition-themed bar and told Insider that his network has high hopes for Colbert.
He said: “When you’ve got a kid with a personality like Chris, and you combine it with the way he’s elevating his performances in the ring … we’ve always known he’s a good fighter, but he’s stepped it up in terms of power.
“With everything else like his personality, it’s really a one-two punch. It’s great when you’ve got a high-level boxer-puncher. With that package, the sky’s really the limit.”
Colbert’s confidence shines through fight week
Colbert has extraordinary self-belief and said multiple times during his interview with Insider that there’s nobody who can beat him — particularly Garcia, who entered this match as a late replacement.
The 25-year-old was initially scheduled to box Roger Gutierrez in a WBA (regular) super featherweight title fight. However, the Venezuelan tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month and withdrew from the contest.
Now, Colbert instead fights 30-year-old southpaw Garcia, who remains a test as he brings a 14-0-0 (10 KOs) record to the ring.
“Let’s be real,” said Colbert. “This is still my title shot, and you know this is my title shot. Gutierrez had Covid. But you know the outcome of that fight. You know the sizzle I bring to the ring. I know who I am, and you know what I do.
“Y’all know what’s coming Saturday night. It’s gonna be a dominating performance. It won’t be close and don’t be surprised if I knock him the fuck out.
“One thing I know for sure is that nobody is coming in as a late replacement and beating me.”
Colbert is determined to win in style so that he can secure the real title shot once again and then unify the belts against Top Rank rival Shakur Stevenson in what could become one of the bigger fights of the year it is made.
“I want to fight at least twice this year,” Colbert said. “I want the title shot next, and hell, yeah, I want that in Brooklyn. Even better. I don’t like traveling for fights. I want to fight in my hometown and bring the whole hood out.”
For Espinoza, the fight with late replacement Garcia “is probably every bit as tough a fight as the title fight would have been,” so Colbert will need to stay sharp and focused to get the W.
The Showtime boss added that fights in New York, combined with Colbert’s rising stature in the sport, “are looking up in that respect.”
Espinoza referenced the 2019 sale of the 19,000 capacity Barclays Center to Taiwanese-Canadian billionaire Joseph Tsai as something that can buoy the thirst for combat sports in that venue.
“I think with the Barclays Center change in ownership that they’re going to get re-engaged on boxing events in the very near future, you know, in the next couple of months, and be more regularly involved.”
With a passage through the pandemic in sight, with mask mandates dropping in various US states, “being in front of big crowds is more of a possibility” in New York, according to Espinoza.
Stevenson vs. Colbert could be in play in the coming years
Stevenson, 24, is one of the most talented fighters in the sport and has talked up a bout against Colbert in recent months.
Colbert is unfazed. “Of course he wants to fight me,” he said.
“We want to fight each other. We want to unify! Let’s make the fight happen. If it makes money, it makes sense. And you know me, I’m all about making cents and making money. To be the best, you gotta beat the best.
“And if you consider me and him being the best, let’s make it happen.”
Colbert thought more about the prospect of fighting Stevenson, who has his own tough assignment April 30 when he boxes Oscar Valdez in a WBO-WBC super featherweight unification fight.
“It’s a helluva fight,” he said, on the prospect of fighting Stevenson should he emerge unscathed from the Valdez battle.
“I won’t lose,” Colbert told me. “I don’t lose at nothing in this life. I just learn. But I ain’t finna learn nothing that night, cause I’m coming there to kill.
“If it takes me to kill in the ring and go to jail after, you going to have to come give me an interview in jail.”
Hopefully, interviews remain on
, and in-person during fight week.