LAS VEGAS – Chris Colbert wasn’t sure who Jimmy Lennon Jr. would announce as the winner Saturday night.
Brooklyn’s Colbert was “very convinced” he did enough to come back and beat Jose Valenzuela in their 10-round lightweight fight on the David Benavidez-Caleb Plant pay-per-view undercard at MGM Grand Garden Arena. The former WBA interim 130-pound champion also knew Valenzuela landed many flush punches and that the knockdown he overcame early in the first round could’ve amounted to the difference on the scorecards.
The decidedly pro-Valenzuela crowd booed loudly after Colbert’s unanimous-decision victory was announced. Judges Glenn Feldman, Lisa Giampa and Don Trella scored six rounds apiece for Colbert (17-1, 6 KOs), who won by the same score, 95-94, on each of their cards.
“I knew it was a close fight,” Colbert said during a post-fight press conference. “I’m a honest critic to myself. I knew it was a close fight. I said, ‘Damn, that drop, that knockdown might be a, it might be a draw.’ I don’t want no draw. I need to win. I need to win. … But in boxing, sometimes you gonna win pretty, sometimes you ain’t. Today just wasn’t a pretty win, but it don’t matter. I got the win.”
The 26-year-old Colbert’s debut at the lightweight limit of 135 pounds began in catastrophic fashion. Valenzuela caught Colbert with a crushing counter left that knocked him to the canvas less than 30 seconds into their bout.
A stunned Colbert rolled over and got up quickly. Valenzuela tried to score a first-round knockout, but Colbert regained his composure, and eventually worked off his jab, went to Valenzuela’s body and got back into the fight.
According to CompuBox’s unofficial punch stats, Valenzuela landed only eight more punches overall than Colbert (132-of-610 to 124-of-544). CompuBox counted 40 more power punches for Valenzuela (117-of-349 to 77-of-256), but 32 more jabs for Colbert (47-of-288 to 15-of-261).
“I ain’t gonna lie, when I got dropped I didn’t even know what hit me,” Colbert said. “It was so quick, like I didn’t know what hit me. But when I opened my eyes, I’m like, ‘Oh, sh!t, he dropped me.’ I said, ‘Stay composed. Stay composed. Stay relaxed.’ I’m from the trenches. I’m from the mud. And we done been through worse than that. Like, so that ain’t about nuttin’. It just about how you get up and how you handle the situation.
“I got up and I started backin’ him up. He caught me with good shots – I ain’t gonna lie. He caught me with good shots, but I started dictating the fight with the jab, started backin’ him up, touchin’ the body. It’s no question that if I won or not. I mean, he can have his opinion, but like I said, he has an opinion. Everybody got an opinion. It’s like we all got a a$$h-le.”
The 23-year-old Valenzuela vehemently protested the decision, which caused Colbert to declare that he won’t give the strong southpaw from Renton, Washington a rematch. Colbert questioned why Valenzuela (12-2, 8 KOs) didn’t accept his second straight defeat the way Colbert came to grips with his lopsided points loss to Dominican underdog Hector Luis Garcia (16-1, 10 KOs, 3 NC) in February 2022.
“The only reason why he ain’t gettin’ no rematch is because he was being a sore loser,” Colbert said. “In this sport, it’s either you gonna win, you’re gonna lose or you’re gonna get a draw. And you gotta take that like a man, though. You gotta take your loss like a man, the way you take your wins.
“You see the way I did my last fight, I took that on the chin. It was nothing I could do. I coulda went up there and cried. ‘Nah,’ and made excuses. ‘That wasn’t me. That wasn’t me. I was sick. I was this.’ I didn’t make no excuses. I took my loss like on the chin, like a man. So, why he didn’t take his? And now he ain’t gettin’ no rematch, and I’m going back to my weight class.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.