There will be three outstanding “must win” bouts underneath Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez this Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, atop a Showtime/Premier Boxing Champions pay-per-view. Perhaps the most “must-win,” though is the lightweight tussle between Chris “Primetime” Colbert and Jose “Ray” Valenzuela.
Both 20-something stars were undefeated and on the rapid rise until high-profile losses in their last fights derailed their careers.
The 26-year-old Colbert, once regarded as one of the top prospects in all of boxing, was roughed up, dominated, and even dropped by underdog Hector Luis Garcia in February of 2022 in what was supposed to be a prelude to a super featherweight title shot. The rough loss led to a long layoff and some serious questioning of whether the switch-hitting Brooklyn fighter was actually as good as the scouting reports indicated.
He’ll be moving up to lightweight for this bout, facing a situation where a win is absolutely necessary if he wants to regain his status as a rising superstar.
“I wouldn’t say I’m desperate, but I know what happened in my last fight,” Colbert said at Thursday’s final press conference ahead of Saturday’s card. “No excuses. Everything happens for a reason though. I just know that I’m getting the win on Saturday. He’s a tough competitor, but I’m going to do what I do best, and that’s win.
“There’s no pressure on me. I’m ready to go the distance. I’m just the overall better fighter. If all he’s got is power to beat me, he’s got another thing coming, he better hope his tool-box is full on Saturday.
“I never watch tape of my opponents, but I know that he’s nothing different than any other fighter I’ve faced. He’s going to try to do the same things in there. He won’t be ready for what I’m going to bring.
“Make sure you tune in. You don’t want to miss this one. It’s gonna be fireworks. I’m coming to win. I don’t care how, but I’m going to win.”
The 23-year-old Valenzuela is facing a similar “must-win” scenario this Saturday.
In his last bout, this past September, the well-regarded, then-undefeated southpaw banger came into what was supposed to be a developmental fight against Edwin De Los Santos. He ended up getting stopped in three rounds in an absolute firefight of a battle that saw De Los Santos dropped once and Valenzuela dropped twice.
The loss stopped all career momentum for the entertaining prospect. A second straight loss would set him back greatly.
“He’s in for a long night,” Valenzuela told media at Thursday’s presser. “I went back to the drawing board and prepared tremendously. I focused a lot on myself and cleaned everything up. I’m ready.
“I think I have more advantages. I’m a natural 135 pounder. He was dropped by a 130-pounder and Saturday night I’m going to show him why the lightweight division is a different story.
“I’ve just had an amazing training camp with David Benavidez. It’s great to have them in my corner and I know that they’re always going to have my back.
“I’m glad he thinks all I’ve got is power. I bring a lot more to the table. Make sure you tune into this fight. This is a tremendous card.”
Colbert-Valenzuela should be a compelling clash of styles and mindsets, as well as a high-pressure challenge for two young fighters looking to save their careers.
Also on the Plant-Benavidez undercard, serving as the co-main event, Jesus Ramos and Joey Spencer do battle in a clash of undefeated 22-year-old rising super welterweight stars. Kicking off the telecast will be a welterweight contest pitting Canada’s Cody Crowley, who is on the verge of title contention, against battle-tested warrior Abel Ramos, who’s hungry for another try at a world title after a close split decision loss to Yordenis Ugas in a 2020 bid for the vacant WBA belt.