12 Rounds With … Chris Colbert

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One of New York's top prospects is on a fast track toward a world title. If all goes according to plan, not only will Colbert reach his goal—he’ll help others do the same.

Chris Colbert is only 22 yet has already lived a full life. The sixth-born of 10 children, the southpaw featherweight survived a turbulent upbringing in Brooklyn, New York, to become a doting father, youth mentor, philanthropist and talented boxer.

Colbert, (9-0, 3 KOs), returns to the ring this Saturday, January 26, versus Josh Hernandez (8-1, 7 KOs) in an eight-round, 132-pound contest. Colbert-Hernandez will be on the Keith Thurman-Josesito Lopez undercard at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, live on FOX (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).

Colbert, considered by many to be the Big Apple’s best prospect, broke from training to discuss his dream of facing Carl Frampton, admiration for past greats, giving back to the community and writing his memoirs.  

How is training?

I can honestly say this is one of the best camps of my life. I’m prepared for the worst and ready for the best. Being from Flatbush, I was born right down the street from Barclays Center. So, this is my home as we all know. 

I’m just on a mission to get to a world title shot and to win the world title, so I’m going to go out there and get that “W” by any means necessary on January 26.  We’re ready.

How would you characterize your relationship with Aureliano Sosa and Pat Russo?

Aureliano Sosa and my mentor and manager, Pat Russo, changed my life. Aureliano Sosa is my trainer, best friend and father. Loyalty is everything, and one thing I would never do is to leave my father. I would quit boxing first.

It’s more than boxing to me. They’re family to me. Those two guys will always be in my life, and I will always be thankful to have them with me for the rest of my life, inside and outside of boxing.

How did you earn the nickname “B-Hopp?”

Bernard Hopkins is a legend and they say I fight like him.  We were at a press conference for his fight against Chad Dawson, and somebody said, “B-Hopp.”

Hopkins thought they were talking about him when they were talking about me. He didn’t know that was my nickname, so that was the first time that I met him, and he was like, “Why didn’t anybody tell me we had another B-Hopp in the room?”

He even brought me up on stage with him. Ever since then, he’s taken me under his wing. He’s been teaching me the do’s and don’ts of boxing, things people try to do under the table, on top of the table and in your face. He’s more like an uncle to me.

With the name “B-Hopp,” I have to carry the torch. Hopkins, Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, they’re all great world champions, but now it’s time for me to build my own legacy.

Hopkins, Pernell Whitaker, Floyd Mayweather, Sugar Ray Leonard, they’re all great world champions, but now it’s time for me to build my own legacy. Undefeated featherweight prospect, Chris Colbert

Did you make a statement with your TKO of Austin Dulay?

I think I did. He was 11-0 with eight knockouts, and I always tell my team I want to prove myself and be outstanding in order to separate myself from other prospects.

I thought he was a humble kid until we made it to the face-off and he started talking, so that’s what I do. I like to talk, but I make sure I back it up. Dominating him let everyone know that I’m the baddest young fighter there is right now.

What do you know about your Josh Hernandez?

I know his record is 8-1 with seven knockouts, which is a decent record but I wish he was undefeated.

A lot of people have knockouts, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to knock me out because you can’t hit what you can’t see.

Do you have any dream fights at 126 or 130?

I really don’t have a dream fight, but I would fight Carl Frampton right now, or Nonito Donaire if he stayed at 126. Depending on what sort of fight it is, I can go to 126 or 130.

If I get a great, money fight or one for a world title at 126, I’ll go down after a serious training camp. But I’m getting bigger, and I feel good, strong and comfortable at 130.

How did the buildup for the Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley fight coax a 13-year-old Chris Colbert into boxing?

I saw the money Floyd was making and I was getting paid zero fighting in the streets of Flatbush every day. I told myself, “Why keep getting into trouble, where I could end up in jail or somebody could kill me, when I could learn to box?”

When I first walked into the Atlas Cops & Kids Boxing Gym, I told Coach Sosa, “I’m going to be the top fighter in this gym and the best you’ve ever had.” I stuck to my words. I already knew how to fight, so I made this a life-changing opportunity.

What are your aspirations beyond boxing?

When I make enough money, I’m going to make more Cops and Kids gyms to give back to the community what was so freely given to me. I love giving back, because I remember the days I didn’t have Christmas or birthdays.

I always used to sit and cry on Christmas wishing I had Christmas. So, this year, I teamed up with my friend, Buster Skrine, a cornerback for the New York Jets, and we teamed up with one of my sponsors, Gold Bar NYC, and did a toy drive.

We took money out of our own pockets and donated toys to the community in Brooklyn. We gave out a whole lot of toys, gift cards and literally about $6,000 worth of stuff was given out.

Are there plans to do similar projects?

I want to do a summer camp for kids who have nowhere to go in order to give them something to do for a few hours out of the day. We also have some other things planned for the community to continue to keep on giving back.

What do you miss during training?

My seven-month-old son, Prince Christopher Colbert. I train and I go back to him. Being with my son brings me peace of mind, so the hardest thing to do during camp is being away from him.

But I understand that this is what I have to do. I’ve got to grind to get this money so that he never has to struggle in life.

Name three people, living or dead, you would like to have dinner with?

Coach Sosa, Muhammad Ali and Bernard Hopkins. Me and my coach are always talking about life and boxing. Muhammad Ali and I would go non-stop talking about why he became a Muslim to discussing his fighting style.

I like how Ali slipped punches, hands down. I have video of me doing the same thing.

Bernard Hopkins came from nothing to become who he is today. He came from the penitentiary and I could have easily wound up there with the lifestyle I was living.

Finish this sentence: People would be surprised if they knew I…

People would be surprised that I’m writing a book about my life, from day one until now. I write everything down that I can remember in order.

I want to reach everybody who was ever feeling down and out and let them know not to ever give up.

For a closer look at Chris Colbert, check out his fighter page.

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