Chris Colbert had to mature quickly growing up in Brooklyn. He’s doing the same in boxing, taking another step up in class in his ring return Sunday night on FOX.
Super featherweight prospect Chris Colbert (11-0, 4 KOs) believes in being a well-rounded fighter. While Chris exhibits smart defense, he does so without having to move his feet much.
“I can stand there and fight in the pocket,” said the 22-year-old Colbert. “I can bang, I can box. I feel like I bring everything to the table come fight night. Fighting in the pocket just shows different aspects of my fighting game that people don’t think I can do. You’ve gotta be able to do it all.”
Colbert and his head coach, Aureliano Sosa, are so close that the young fighter thinks of him as his dad. He also credits Sosa with his understated ability to fight well in close range while still maintaining good defense.
“I’ve got a Mexican trainer, my father. Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. was the best at fighting inside the pocket and not getting hit. So, I watched a lot of that coming up as a fighter.”
Colbert’s former nickname, “Lil B-Hop,” was in homage to the legendary Bernard Hopkins, one of Chris’ favorite fighters. Hopkins also exhibited the ability to dole out punishment and avoid taking punches while battling in close range. But now, Colbert felt it was time for a nickname change.
“I switched the name. It’s ‘Prime Time’ on primetime TV.”
It’s apropos considering several of the Brooklyn native’s recent bouts have been televised on primetime television. On Sunday, June 23, he faces Alberto Mercado (16-2-1, 3 KOs) at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The fight is part of a stacked undercard, headlined by a super welterweight showdown between Jermell Charlo and Jorge Cota, live on PBC on FOX and FOX Deportes (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT).
CounterPunch, a documentary film about boxing, was released in 2017 on Netflix. Colbert was one of the fighters featured in the movie.
“Being in the documentary was a great experience. It helped people get to know me a little bit outside the ring.
“What really surprised me was the fans I gained. I went to the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor press conference in New York City, and I never realized how many fans I had till I went there. I went to say what’s up to Mayweather and a lot of Irish fans started screaming, ‘B-Hop!’ I thought Bernard Hopkins was there. I looked behind me and they’re talking about me! They said, ‘We seen that movie CounterPunch!’”
Mayweather is one of several boxers who inspired young Colbert.
“As a boxer, Floyd Mayweather inspired me. I saw his fight with ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley. I was not boxing at the time. I see Floyd Mayweather making all this money off fighting, and I told myself, I fight every day and I don’t get paid. The only thing I do is get in trouble. So why not?
“When it comes to life, Bernard Hopkins and Andre Ward inspired me. Sugar Ray Leonard is my favorite fighter. I just like him overall, inside and outside the ring.”
Like Ward, Chris is adept at switching stances in the ring, alternating between orthodox and southpaw. Part of the reason he’s able to do it so effectively is that he’s ambidextrous.
“I know how to write with both hands,” Colbert said. “When I play baseball, I can hit with my left better than I hit with my right. I’m naturally right-handed, but I can do a lot with my left.
“Before I started boxing, I used to fight in the street and I used to fight with my right hand forward. So, it was comfortable when I came to boxing to fight lefty, but they switched me to righty because I’m a natural right-hander. So, I just kept trying lefty as I kept boxing, and then I learned how to perfect it.”
“ I feel like I bring everything to the table come fight night. ” Undefeated Super Featherweight Prospect - Chris Colbert
Fighters prepare for fight night in different ways. Some go through a transformation of sorts as they get ready to do what they need to do in the ring. Colbert feels that he’s always ready.
“Once I get a fight, I’m prepared. It’s just that I’ve gotta put my body to the test. I think boxing is mostly a mental game--it’s 90% mental and 10% physical. I beat people with my mind before I beat them in the ring.”
Outside the ring, Chris makes time during training camp for an unusual sport.
“I like bowling, believe it or not, when I'm in camp.”
As far as mainstream sports, Colbert is an avid football fan.
“I played football back in high school. I was a wide receiver—I loved it. I've got a bunch of friends in the NFL. One of my teammates from high school plays for the Chicago Bears. His name is Rashaad Coward. Another friend plays for the Bears too. His name is Buster Skrine. So, the Chicago Bears is one of my favorite teams.
“My number one favorite team now is the New York Jets. I have friends who play for the Jets too. Leonard Williams and like three other friends. Those are my two teams.”
When asked about his favorite fictional character, Chris’ response revealed how unusual he is as a person.
“I was never into too many movies. I was always into sports growing up—real life stuff. I don’t think I ever really had a childhood. I was grown from jump.”
It was a challenge for Chris to think of many films that he does like, but the ones he finally landed upon are not what one would expect.
“I don’t really watch movies like that, to be honest. But a few I like are Let it Shine, Don’t Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood, Friday, Baby Boy, Hairspray. I like singing movies—I sing along with them,” Colbert laughed.
As for favorite foods, Chris’ tastes have matured as he’s gotten older.
“When I was a kid, after the weigh-in, I liked fried chicken. But after I turned pro, I realized I can’t do that—that could slow me down. So, I don’t really have a specific pre-fight meal but I do like salmon.”
In day-to-day life, Colbert looks up to the people who have been there for him and those who have positively changed his path.
“Aureliano Sosa inspires me. He’s like a superhero because he saved my life from what I was going through, what I was doing. And my manager, Pat Russo. Al Haymon, too. He changed my life for the better. And my son (Prince). He just turned one.”
While Chris has already achieved a lot of success, he feels his greatest achievements thus far are about what he’s doing for his family and his community.
“Being a great father is my greatest achievement and giving back to my community. Even though I’m not making crazy money yet, I’m doing as much as I can, giving back. Giving knowledge to the kids and trying to make things better.
“Last year we did a toy drive. As I make more money I’m gonna try to do more for kids, like summer camps and things like that.”
Ahead of his bout on June 23, Colbert has a message for fans.
“Tune in and witness another great performance from me. I’ll dominate this fight and go on to the next.”
For a closer look at Chris Colbert, check out his fighter page.