Chris Colbert had plenty to say throughout fight week and backed up every word in the end.
The brash Brooklyn native continues to develop as a player in the junior lightweight division, the latest evidence coming in his brilliant performance versus Mongolia’s Tugstsogt Nyambayar. Colbert convincingly outboxed the 2012 Olympic Silver medalist and former featherweight title challenger en route to a landslide unanimous decision victory Saturday evening at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Judges Carla Caiz (118-110), Fernando Villarreal (118-110) and Zachary Young (117-111) all scored the contest in favor of Colbert in the Showtime-televised main event.
Nyambayar took the fight on two weeks’ notice, moving up from featherweight to accept the fight in place of an injured Yuriorkis Gamboa. The Los Angeles-based Mongolian went against the scouting report in sprinting out to an aggressive start in the opening seconds of the bout. Colbert quickly adapted, pumping a purposeful jab that repeatedly found its home throughout round one.
"He carried power for a 126-pounder,” Colbert admitted to Showtime’s Jim Grey after the fight. “Boxing is about hitting and not getting hit. I had to use my Muhammad Ali tactics and float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.”
Action continued at a brisk pace in round two. Colbert—known to switch between orthodox and southpaw—fought out of the latter stance midway through the round, only to immediately get caught with a right hand by Nyambayar.
Colbert returned to a conventional stance at the start of round three, but briefly found himself under attack. Nyambayar connected with an overhand right to drive Colbert to the ropes but the moment was short-lived. Colbert reclaimed control of the fight, scoring with chopping right hands. Nyambayar connected with a flush right hand in the final minute of the round but was subsequently warned by referee Thomas Taylor for rabbit punching.
Colbert was affected by a clash of heads in rounds four and five. Nyambayar caused the first sequence, getting caught with a right hand early in round four and attempting to hold Colbert, only to pull his head down to cause an accidental headbutt. Colbert turned away in pain early in round five as both fighters leaned in with their heads, leaving the unbeaten secondary titlist to hold his right eye in pain.
Cleaner action resumed shortly after that, which boded well for Colbert. The jab continued to be the weapon of choice for the outspoken junior lightweight, landing more than 10 per round though forgetting to play defense often enough to draw stern feedback from head trainer Aureliano Sosa. Colbert responded in kind, not wasting any punches or movement in the second half of the fight.
Nyambayar spent most of the first half fighting with purpose, though his activity rate noticeably dipped beginning round seven. Colbert’s jab had plenty to do with that, shooting the stick and then immediately sliding back the moment Nyambayar attempted to respond.
Colbert punched and landed in combination in round nine, while Nyambayar’s offense all but shut down by this point. The locally based contender was unable to contend with the blinding hand speed of Colbert, who continued to dazzle his challenger with eye-catching flurries throughout a one-sided tenth round.
Nyambayar put his best foot forward in round eleven, doing his best to honor the wishes of his corner to let loose with his right hand and find a way to turn the tide. The moment would never come though not for a lack of trying, as Colbert opted to stick and move throughout the round, flicking his jab from the outside and utilizing lateral movement as Nyambayar followed him around the ring.
A last gasp attempt by Nyambayar saw the challenger connect with a right hand in the closing seconds of the fight. Colbert had the victory well secured by that point, though still not taking any unnecessary chances down the stretch.
Colbert improves to 16-0 (6KOs) with the win. The 24-year-old Brooklynite nearly doubled up Nyambayar in total punch output, landing 218-of-662 total punches (33%), including 112-of-421 jabs (27%).
“The jab will set you free and it got me free a number of times,” Colbert stated of his weapon of choice.
The fight marks the second defense of the interim title he claimed in a twelve-round, unanimous decision victory over former WBA “Super” titlist Jezreel Corrales last January. Colbert’s first title defense resulted in an eleventh-round stoppage of Jaime Arboleda last November in Uncasville, Connecticut.
Nyambayar—who was just 78-of-332 (23) in total punches—falls to 12-2 (9KOs) with the loss.
Both career defeats came with a title of sorts at stake, the previous occasion coming in a twelve-round unanimous decision to WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. last February 8 in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Nyambayar rebounded with a twelve-round split decision victory over unbeaten Cobia Breedy last September, coming at featherweight where he will likely return following Saturday’s defeat.
As for Colbert, the expectation is to return at the top level of the junior lightweight division. The belt he holds is a secondary version of the WBA “Super” title currently in the possession of weight-jumping knockout artist Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (25-0, 24KOs), whose latest win came one week ago at junior welterweight. Speculation has surfaced that Davis will potentially drop his 130-pound title, though such a suggestion is merely loose talk at this point.
Whatever the case, Colbert is expecting to put a major belt around his waist the next time he steps into the ring.
“I’m number one in the WBA. Al Haymon, you know what to do,” notes Colbert. “It’s my time, Prime Time on Showtime. Hopefully we can be back again by the end of the year. If not, I trust in God’s plan and Al Haymon’s plan.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox