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Chris Colbert aims for ‘Primetime’ performance against Jaime Arboleda

Chris Colbert’s first Showtime main event airs Saturday night.

Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

If I tell you, Chris Colbert said, I will have to kill you.

I thought about it, and, being that we were talking about one of his secret sauces at his new chicken restaurant, I figured I wouldn’t be that high on his to-do list, being that he is headlining a fight card on Showtime tomorrow evening.

“I will take my chances, being that you are in Connecticut, and I’m in Brooklyn,” I responded, quite jovially, during a Thursday check-in with the 14-0 (5 KO) 130-pounder. “What’s in the sauce?”

Colbert chuckled, slipped the sauce query, and that was one of the times that I found myself impressed with the kid.

OK, “kid” might not be the right designation for the 24-year-old who owns the “interim” WBA junior lightweight crown right now. He’s fighting and talking and acting like a man. He’s now “Prime Time” Colbert, not the “Lil B Hop” I remember talking to when he first started out in the pros and that we saw in the documentary CounterPunch.

Colbert is the favorite against Colombian Arboleda (16-1, 13 KO). This is Colbert’s second outing in 2020; in January he scored a UD-12 over Jezzrel Corrales in Philly. Julian “J-Roc” Williams was above Colbert on that evening. Tomorrow, Colbert gets the hottest spotlight on Showtime.

How to Watch Colbert vs Arboleda

Date: Saturday, Dec. 12 | Start Time: 9 pm ET (Main Card)
Location: Mohegan Sun - Uncasville, CT
Online Coverage:

Colbert insists, when asked for a prediction, that watchers will be graced with a performance living up to his current nickname.

“I predict a dominating performance. My name is Chris ‘Primetime’ Colbert, I have to look spectacular every single time. You never saw Deion ‘Primetime’ Sanders come out and not look spectacular,” he said. “I have to do the unexpected, and I will do that every single time. On Saturday, I will go out, make it look easy, and it will be a dominating performance.”

Some of you reading this don’t know much about this Deion Sanders. He was a severely talented and trash talking ultra-athlete, who excelled as a defensive back in the NFL for 14 seasons. For his “part time” job, Sanders played baseball at the highest level. During the 1989 season, “Neon Deion” hit a home run as a member of the New York Yankees and scored a touchdown in the NFL, playing for the Atlanta Falcons, in the same week. No person has done that before or since. Colbert has chosen well, I think, in looking for a role model, because Sanders, the only man to play in a Super Bowl and a World Series game, talked as good a game as he played.

“I was Lil B Hop, but now, I’m fighting on prime time TV, it makes sense, I’m ‘Primetime’!” said Colbert. “It’s only right, I’ll be shining like a star. Deion Sanders, he always shined!”

Since he last gloved up, Colbert like all of us has wrestled with the new reality of pandemic living. I asked him how he and his family have fared since February.

“On COVID, we had our fair share, like everybody else, but we made it out good, we’re here,” he said.

He’s living in New Jersey, and that’s part of the maturity I touched on before. He still sees the old gang, still loves Flatbush, but he knows that distance is needed.

“You definitely can’t keep on making the same old mistakes. I do see everybody, I do love Brooklyn, but I needed to get away.”

He was in the middle of 10 kids in his family, and will admit he wasn’t always the best behaved. But boxing found him, he found boxing, and that kept him from going off the rails. He told Ray Flores of PBC that he learned from the rough stuff he saw. He knew, for example, when his son was born two years ago, that he would spend time and give the boy experiences he didn’t have.

He is more mature, but that’s not to say cockiness isn’t present. Nah, Colbert hasn’t watched tape of Arboleda, he’s left that to trainer/father figure Aureliano Sosa, and they’ve crafted a game plan which will play out at Mohegan Sun.

As for the remaining cockiness, it isn’t overboard. Colbert doesn’t tell me he’s the kingpin of 130. “I’m definitely one of the best at 130, but I can’t consider myself the best until I prove it,” he said.

He’s not gonna stir the pot, do some call-outs; he’s of the “Let Al Sort It Out” crew.

“I don’t look like that into the future. I’ll let Al Haymon do what he does best, sit back and let it play out.”

If you haven’t seen Colbert fight, and you see that modest KO ratio, you might think you’ll tune in and see a runner. Colbert admires the subtle, stand-slip-and-slide ways that James Toney exhibited, so Arboleda won’t have to breathe heavy to catch up to him. Colbert will be in his face Saturday.

Here, you can get a sense of the power Colbert can summon:

“Colbert’s biggest downfall will be his arrogance,” the underdog Arboleda said on Thursday. “He doesn’t have the firepower to finish me with one punch. He’s not a puncher like that. He picks his shots and moves. He’s a boxer and I am a boxer-puncher.”

I expect Colbert to snag the W. His Panamanian foe had 130 amateur fights, so he’s not merely a banger. But Colbert’s mobility edge will prove to be too grand for him to gain the upset, as long as he sees every left hook that Arboleda attempts.

As for that that chicken, Primetime Chicken is open for business in Garfield, NJ. Colbert touted his special sauces, and says the “Sugar Ray” wings are spicier, while the “Sosa Wings” are more mild. “The Knockout Chicken Sandwich,” he declares, stands out because of that special sauce. Colbert wouldn’t divulge even one special spice or herb in the mix. Maybe I will have better luck getting that info right after Saturday.

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