Chris Colbert is left to adjust for a new opponent, though while keeping an old fight date.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Roger Gutierrez is no longer able to proceed with his scheduled WBA junior lightweight title defense versus Colbert due a Covid outbreak among his team. Venezuela’s Gutierrez was one of several members in camp to test positive for the infectious disease, thus forcing him out of the main event of a February 26 Showtime tripleheader from The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
ESPN Knockout's Julius Julianis was first to reveal—via Twitter—news of Gutierrez testing positive for Covid.
The good news for all other involved parties—including Colbert—is that the show will move forward, according to several parties intimately involved with the event. A new opponent will be secured for Brooklyn’s Colbert (16-0, 6KOs), though such details were not finalized as this goes to publish.
The show also includes 2016 U.S. Olympian and rising junior welterweight contender Gary Antuanne Russell (14-0, 14KOs) in a sought-after step up in class versus former WBC junior welterweight titlist Viktor Postol (31-3, 12KOs). Opening the televised tripleheader, IBF junior bantamweight titlist Jerwin Ancajas—the second longest-reigning active male titleholder—attempts his tenth title defense versus Argentina’s Fernando Daniel Martinez (13-0, 8KOs).
Gutierrez (26-3-1, 20KOs) will attempt his second overall title defense and first since being upgraded in title status. He won the WBA “World” title in a twelve-round decision over Nicaragua’s Rene Alvarado in their dramatic rematch, scoring three knockdowns including one in the twelfth and final round to pull off the upset win last January 2 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The feat avenged a stoppage loss from earlier in his career, while their rubber match this past August proved less entertaining than its predecessors.
The rubber match last August 14 saw Gutierrez win a repeat decision, this time in less entertaining fashion though effective enough to retain the title.
Colbert (16-0, 6KOs) last fought in July, earning a twelve-round decision win over Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Gutierrez-Colbert was the first title fight formally ordered by the WBA following its (forced) commitment to reduce its number of recognized titles, coming two days after Gutierrez’s repeat win over Alvarado. At the time of the August 16 order, the pairing served as a title consolidation fight as Gutierrez was the recognized WBA “World” junior lightweight titlist and Colbert as the sanctioning body’s “interim” titleholder.
Colbert was since downgraded to mandatory, though able to retain the same financial benefits previously afforded interim titlists in such negotiations. It became moot as Golden Boy (Gutierrez) and TGB Promotions (on behalf of Premier Boxing Champions for Colbert) were able to reach terms for the title fight.
Those plans will have to remain hold now, at least for Gutierrez as Colbert will move forward with his career.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox