Both Jose Valenzuela and Chris Colbert had plenty of questions to answer after suffering their first defeats in their previous defeats. Their ten-round bout answered some questions, but raised others in the process.
In the end, it was Colbert who won the decision, winning a unanimous decision by one point on all three scorecards, 95-94, Saturday night on the undercard of the David Benavidez vs. Caleb Plant super middleweight fight at the MGM Grand. The decision was booed by the crowd, which felt the more explosive punches from the heavier handed Valenzuela (12-2, 8 knockouts) earned him the victory.
The fight was just the second to go the ten-round distance for “El Rayo” Valenzuela, but it nearly ended thirty seconds into the fight. Valenzuela dropped Colbert moments into the fight with an overhand southpaw left hand, leaving the 26-year-old Colbert (17-1, 6 KOs) looking unlikely to finish the round.
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Colbert absorbed numerous left hands but survived the round. Instead of running around the ring to collect himself, the New Yorker kept a high guard and walked the bigger punching Mexican-American down, banking on the 23-year-old’s relative inexperience in longer fights being his undoing.
Colbert had success after the knockdown, outworking Valenzuela for long stretches of the early rounds but remaining vulnerable to the fight-changing punches from Valenzuela.
Valenzuela demonstrated that again in the sixth round, when an overhand left rocked Colbert and sent him to the ropes. Colbert looked like he was ready to go, but Valenzuela appeared to punch himself out with his heavy barrage, and ended the round as the one being backed up.
Valenzuela once again hurt Colbert in the eighth, causing the referee to warn him to punch back or risk being stopped, but he remained the more consistent fighter for stretches as he put his punches together. Valenzuela stunned Colbert once more with five seconds left in the fight but was unable to get the finish that always seemed a punch away.
The two fighters jawed off after the verdict was announced, with Valenzuela claiming he deserved the decision and Colbert offering a rematch if he wanted one.
“You’re a sore loser. You lost,” said Colbert to Valenzuela’s face, as he showed off his winner’s medal.
“I out-boxed him and hit him with more jabs. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a man and he had his spurts. He hit me with some good shots but then he stopped and I jabbed and I jabbed and I jabbed. He got the knockdown but it’s a 10-round fight,” he added in the post-fight interview.
The win helps Colbert bounce back after his wide decision loss to Hector Garcia in February of 2022, which preceded a 13-month layoff. Valenzuela has now lost two straight, having been knocked out in three rounds by Edwin De Los Santos last September.
“I felt like I put it on him. Definitely I’d like a rematch. I have to be fair and square. I went through a lot. I worked hard. It was tough and to come out like this – it sucks,” said Valenzuela.
In the broadcast opener, Cody Crowley grinded out a majority decision win over Abel Ramos in a WBC welterweight eliminator. The scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 114-114, giving Crowley (22-0, 9 KOs) of Las Vegas by way of Peterborough, Canada his sixth straight decision win.
The 30-year-old Crowley used a smothering southpaw assault to grind down Ramos (27-6-2, 21 KOs) of Casa Grande, Az. Ramos, who has now lost back to back fights, was forced to fight off the ropes for most of the night, but found plenty of opportunities to counter, particularly with uppercuts and right hands.
Crowley pushed the pace throughout the middle of the rounds, but was stunned briefly in the eleventh round by a counter right hand that was initially ruled a knockdown before being reversed after a replay showed that his glove did not touch the canvas.
Ramos has now lost three of his last four, though his defeats to Yordenis Ugas and Luke Santamaria were close, competitive bouts.
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