Oklahoma's lightweight title up for grabs at Remington Park 

Undefeated newcomers to the Oklahoma lightweight rankings, George Colbert and Noah Zuhdi will be fighting Monday night for the Oklahoma lightweight title. Colbert and Zuhdi have racked up impressive victories and are widely agreed to be two of the state's best lightweights.

SANCTION FIGHTS
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

"They are two really good lightweight division fighters, they are right at the beginning of their careers," said Joe Miller, administrator of the Oklahoma Boxing Commission. "I've seen both of them fight and they are both very capable fighters and probably have bright futures ahead of them."

The title was vacated by Irishman Oisin Fagan, who returned to his homeland to further his career. As professional boxing is enjoying a relatively recent comeback in Oklahoma, little is known about history of the Oklahoma lightweight title. Further probing into the origins of the belt has not turned up any kind of governing committee, such as top level belts overseen by the World Boxing Council or World Boxing Association.

Miller insisted that the OBC has no interest in getting involved with a belt, recalling a 2001 "Oklahoma Heavyweight Title" fight before his tenure with the OBC began. Darrin Humphreys won the fight, but was immediately confronted in the ring by another fighter who said he was already the Oklahoma heavyweight champion. A melee ensued.

SANCTION FIGHTS
The commission later decided that the OBC would sanction fights, would recognize a title, but would not be responsible for overseeing or ensuring the legitimacy of the belt. Ultimately, that responsibility lies with the promoters and fighters.

"If the Oklahoma Athletic Commission did have the title, it would take a person an innumerable amount of hours to oversee the title, the rankings, the ratings and such," Miller said. "That's why there are no real state titles."

Darla Zuhdi, of fight promotion company catBOX Entertainment, said that the talent levels of both fighters justify their chance to compete for the Oklahoma lightweight title.

Colbert was surprised when he heard he was fighting Noah Zuhdi, a friend of his, for the belt. But since they were at the top of the lightweight talent pool, Colbert knew it was just a matter of time before the fight happened.

"We have fought a lot of the fighters in our weight class around here and can beat them," Colbert said. "We could have waited a little bit longer to fight each other, but might as well do it now. I think there is a 50/50 chance either of us will win. Noah has youth, strength and is in great shape. I'm in great shape, too, and faster."

Colbert is a rounded out fighter, with Brazilian jujitsu, boxing and kickboxing in his repertoire. He won his lone mixed martial arts fight in 26 seconds. With solid technical skills, Colbert is a compact fighter that disassembled Michael Young back in April in a two-round technical knockout. Zuhdi, on the other hand, is a more aggressive fighter who simply overpowered his opponent, Isaiah Gibson.

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
Colbert said that both he and Zuhdi are approaching the sport with different perspectives. Colbert has a family and a career, and sees boxing as a healthy way to stay in shape and challenge himself. Zuhdi is on the career track to go national and follow in the path of his mentor and former WBA lightweight champion Sean O'Grady.

This fight will be an important test on whether Zuhdi can handle the fierce competition he'll encounter in larger markets. Colbert acknowledges that Zuhdi has the look of a prize fighter, but also said that he will have no problem sending his friend "back to the drawing board."

"He's a good looking kid, really athletic and has all the things they want to promote, but I have a good following, too," Colbert said. "We both have weaknesses and strengths.  I know his and he knows mine so if the fight goes the distance, it'll be a war."

Miller endorsed the fight as a legitimate matchup of two of the best lightweight fighters in the state, even if he is keeping his distance from the title.

For his part, Colbert is coming into this fight more committed than ever.

"When I started boxing, I wasn't ever looking to win a national title, I was just doing it for fun and staying in shape," Colbert said. "The more I've done it, the more I liked it. I'm not getting any younger, so after my last fight, I made a commitment to boxing." -Charles Martin

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