Prior to 2020, Jaime Arboleda had never come close to fighting 12 rounds in a pro bout in his career. His last fight, a war against Puerto Rican fighter Jayson Velez, might be what gives Arboleda the biggest win of his career when he faces Chris Colbert.
That February 2020 fight against Velez, set in the still-frigid air of Allentown Pennsylvania, was anything but easy. Arboleda struggled at times late in the fight and was even dropped by Velez in the final round, just barely winning a split decision to keep his win streak alive.
Arboleda possesses plenty of tools that would give fans something to look forward to from his come-forward style to his impressive body punching. However, the way he was having trouble keeping up at times against someone like Velez showed the Panamanian fighter he had a lot left to work on.
“I’ve never gone 12 rounds and I’ve never faced a fighter as strong as Jayson Velez. I got a lot of experience in that fight. I learned what it takes to be able to fight 12 rounds, but I was dead-tired in the 12th. I learned about pacing myself through 12 rounds, fighting while tired late in the fight and I was able to pull it off,” Arboleda said in Spanish.
Looking back on that fight, Arboleda saw that as a big learning experience, something he will most definitely need in order to stand a chance against his next opponent Chris Colbert. Arboleda is set to face Colbert for the interim WBA title on December 12. It will be the first time Arboleda headlines a card in the United States and his matchup against Colbert will be televised on Showtime.
When it came to preparing for Colbert, conditioning played a key role during training camp. Despite both fighters having the potential to win the fight inside the distance, Arboleda said he didn’t want to leave anything to chance in case the fight do reach the championship rounds.
“We focused a lot in this training camp on being able to fight well in those championship rounds in the 11th and 12th. We really took a look at things and saw what I can do to best prepare myself for those last two rounds. That’s what we really prepared for,” Arboleda said.
Speaking on his main event spot and the opponent he’s facing, Arboleda fully understands that it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that could lead to a bright, bright future if he emerges victorious.
“When I got the call that I was facing Chris Colbert, it was such a great feeling. They told me about the fight and within 15 days I was getting ready, happier than [anyone], packing my clothes to head out because this is a golden opportunity. I couldn’t say no or say I don’t want to because we are in a pandemic. Let’s go to war,” Arboleda said.
Arboleda is not exactly one to shy away when it comes to his opponents, especially someone like Colbert. Arboleda has seen the unbeaten Colbert fight and while he knows that his opponent has a lot of talent, some of his antics does leave a bit of a bad taste in his mouth.
“He’s got talent, there’s no denying that. He’s the interim world champion right? But I don’t consider him to be one of the best at 130 pounds. He’s a guy that likes to clown around in fights, frustrates his opponents. To me, he’s not one of the best at 130 pounds,” Arboleda said.
Asked whether or not Colbert’s mental approaches to fights, sometimes frustrating opponents and getting them out of their usual rhythm, is a part of his success and he agrees with that sentiment. Going up against a fighter like that is never easy and he knows preventing Colbert from executing his usual gameplan from the start will be the key to victory.
“He works a lot on the mental side beating opponents like that, getting them to de-focus so he can do what he can do in the ring. He’ll mess around, clown off and as a boxer, you don’t like going up against guys like that. You get desperate and try to do stuff that isn’t in the gameplan,” Arboleda said.
Arboleda understands what a win over Colbert would mean for his career: a chance to fight for an actual world title and against some of the division’s best. His message to the rest of the division is simple. He wants the world to know that “Jaime Arboleda is here, silently preparing and working in the gym to face the top guys and champions in the future.”
But that message will fall on deaf ears if he doesn’t win his fight against Colbert. The only way Arboleda figures to do that is to make him fight his fight and turn this boxing match into a war.
“I just have to impose my will on him and get him to fight me. He’s a fast fighter and moves very well so I need to close off the distance and the ring and show him my strength. He’s not here to play with me. On fight night, he’ll have to fight and I’m going to make him fight,” Arboleda said.
Colbert vs. Arboleda headlines the December 12 Showtime Boxing: Special Edition broadcast, starting at 9 p.m. ET:
Full Interview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kKhvRn33yVo