By Keith Idec
NEW YORK – Tugstsogt Nyambayar ultimately gave the many Mongolians in attendance at Barclays Center plenty cheer about Saturday night.
The emerging featherweight contender from Mongolia fended off a strong challenge from game Dominican contender Claudio in the entertaining, competitive opener of a “PBC on FOX” tripleheader from Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Nyambayar, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist, won a 12-round unanimous decision to remain unbeaten.
All three judges – Julie Lederman (114-113), Eric Marlinski (115-112) and John Poturaj (116-111) – scored their fight for Nyambayar.
The unbeaten Nyambayar also toward a shot at WBC featherweight chap Gary Russell Jr. because the Nyambayar-Marrero match was a WBC 126-pound eliminator. He also won the vacant IBO world featherweight championship.
Nyambayar, 26, went the distance for just the second time in a pro career that’s in its fourth year (11-0, 9 KOs). Marrero, 29, lost for the third time as a pro (23-3, 17 KOs).
The 10th, 11th and 12th championship rounds featured plenty of competitive exchanges. Referee Benjy Esteves deducted a point from Marrero for hitting Nyambayar off a break during the 10th round.
That point deduction only was a factor on Lederman’s scorecard. She would’ve had it even if not for Marrero losing that point.
Marrero made the ninth round very competitive. He pressed forward for much of that three-minute period, which kept Nyambayar from letting his hands go.
The eighth round featured the best back-and-forth action of the fight to that point. Nyambayar and Marrero took turns as the aggressor and each landed his fair share of punches during those three minutes.
Nyambayar let his hands go toward the end of the seventh round and drilled Marrero with a straight right hand. That only made Marrero fire back with straight left hands, which made Nyambayar retreat.
Nyambayar connected with two straight right hands within the first 40 seconds of the sixth round. Marrero promptly nailed Nyambayar on the back of his head, which drew a warning from Esteves.
Marrero’s momentum continued building during the fifth round, when he landed several left hands and worked off his jab. Nyambayar drilled Marrero with a straight right hand late in the fifth round, though.
Marrero landed two short, straight left hands within the final 40 seconds of the fourth round, a solid three minutes for the Dominican veteran.
Nyambayar landed a combination that made Marrero moved backward 1:20 into the third round. A right handed by Nyambayar about 25 seconds later buckled Marrero’s legs.
Nyambayar tried to capitalize on hurting Marrero, but Marrero fired back enough to make Nyambayar move away from him.
Nyambayar landed several heavy head and body shots in the first two rounds. Marrero pressed forward, however, often shaking his head to let Nyambayar know he wasn’t hurt.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.