The slick lightweight prospect from Brooklyn can do it all in the ring. On Saturday night, he takes another step up in class against veteran Mario Briones on PBC on FS1.
Chris Colbert was already fairly lethal before he even walked into a boxing gym at 13. Colbert just loved to fight, and it wouldn’t take an explosion for him to erupt. He would drive his mother, Latonya, up the wall, over a few walls and into some walls, going absolutely nuts trying to control him.
The sixth of 10 children, Colbert was coaxed into boxing through street fighting. One day, someone he was ready to brawl with invited him to a local gym to settle their differences there. Colbert, now 22, has been hooked ever since.
The problem Colbert had in the Brooklyn, N.Y., streets carried over into the gym. He wanted to beat up everyone in there, too. But it was those hardcore streets that spurred Colbert toward a unique quality that makes him one of boxing’s best prospects, at 10-0, with three knockouts: He’s ambidextrous.
Tall for a lightweight, listed at 5-foot-8, “Lil B-Hop,” a nickname he took from the legendary Bernard Hopkins, can beat you from either side. Though labeled a southpaw, Colbert possesses the rare ability to switch stances during a round, or even a punch sequence. First you see him one way, then another.
It’s confusing to any opponent.
It’s certainly a skill veteran Mario Briones (29-8-2, 21 KOs) will need to be aware of when he faces Colbert on the co-feature of the Peter Quillin-Caleb Truax super middleweight title eliminator on Saturday, April 13 on PBC on FS1 (10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT) from the Armory in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Colbert is naturally right handed, though when he first began boxing, he fought out of the southpaw stance. Colbert’s trainer, the esteemed New York veteran Aureliano Sosa, figured to leave the kid alone and let him perfect the method that fit him.
“I see BoxRec.com has me listed as a southpaw, and that’s not right, but it doesn’t matter to me,” said Colbert, who can write with his either hand. “That just messes with my opponent’s head when I switch hands. It depends on what type of fight my opponent brings.
“I do feel more comfortable as a left-handed fighter, because I take less risks and I get hit less as a lefty. As a righty, I take more risks and I’m willing to stay in there and bang. I know these guys I face probably think, ‘Oh my God, this kid is amazing,’ because I switch, and I switch, and I switch. I won’t stop switching throughout the whole fight. I can do it right front of any opponent’s face and they still won’t get me.”
“ I know these guys I face probably think, ‘Oh my God, this kid is amazing.' ” Undefeated lightweight prospect - Chris Colbert
Sosa, who also trains Quillin, Julian Sosa, his son, and heavyweight contender Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, remembers the first day Colbert walked into the gym. He told Sosa he’d fight anyone in the place.
Colbert wasn’t afraid of anything. He did, however, learn a newfound respect for boxing.
Sosa had rising prospect Nikita Ababiy and national-level amateur star Bruce Carrington get in the ring with Colbert. At first, they pounded “Lil B-Hop.” Each day, Colbert would come back.
That told Sosa something—Colbert is a tough kid who’s willing to take harsh lessons in order to thrive.
“Nikita and Chris, at that time, were more advanced than Chris when Chris started, but his skill level you could see, and it’s why he’s blossomed so quick,” Sosa said. “As a coach, you have to recognize the skill and talent in front of you, and with Chris, he picks things up so quickly, and he’s so smart, so one day we were playing around, and he was going lefty, then righty, and he did well with both.
“We decided to keep it going. His skill level began rising even more. I’m more of a new-wave coach to see what a fighter has and work with their skills and ability. If their flow works for them, I let it go. All the kids that I have, I let them do what comes naturally to them.”
This is a big year for Colbert. The Briones fight on April 13 will mark Colbert’s second fight in 2019. He wants to fight at least three more time before the year is over.
“My defense will be on point, my hand speed will be crazy, and in the last fight, I showed I have power,” said Colbert, whose weight fluctuates from 126 to 135. “Briones has no chance. I’m going to get this guy out of there. I’m the only young prospect in the game who is willing to take on anybody. I don’t say ‘no’ to any challenge.
“Whoever I fight, I’m going to make them look average every single time I step into the ring. Beware of my new move that I call the ‘da shotta.’ I’ll reveal it against Briones. It’ll be easy. When I fight, I don’t fight for close decisions. The way I see it, if I win a fight by split-decision, something is wrong with me.”
Or right with him. Colbert can go either way.
For more on Chris Colbert, check out his fighter page.
- Chris Colbert