The intended course of action for 2021 was to be the same as any other year for Tugstsogt Nyambayar.
A planned title run at featherweight was at the forefront for the 2012 Olympic Silver medalist from Mongolia, whose lone career defeat came on that very stage. Nyambayar (12-1, 9KOs) has fought just once since a 12-round unanimous decision loss to WBC featherweight titlist Gary Russell Jr. last February, earning a split decision win over Cobia Breedy last September to claim the number-two position in the WBC featherweight ratings.
Another win would position ‘King Tug’ for his second shot at the title. Instead comes a different type of opportunity, as he agreed to step in to face interim WBA junior lightweight titlist Chris Colbert on short notice. Nyambayar replaced an injured Yuriorkis Gamboa, moving up in weight for the sake of salvaging this weekend’s Showtime telecast live from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
“I like the idea of taking this challenge at 130 (pounds),” Nyambayar told BoxingScene.com. “Honestly, I never really gave much consideration to fighting at [junior lightweight]. I’ve always been able to make 126 pounds, so we weren’t really thinking about moving up for at least another year or two.
“We weren’t targeting anyone at this weight until this fight with Chris Colbert was offered to us. A win will open up a lot of opportunities for me at 126 and at 130.”
The 29-year-old contender—who is now based in Los Angeles—has never weighed heavier than 128 pounds as a pro, in fact weighing barely above the featherweight limit just three times through 12 fights. Nyambayar weighed below the 126-pound divisional limit for each of his last three fights, and weighed as light as 121¼ pounds which came in his March 2015 pro debut—less than three years after having won a Silver medal as a flyweight in 2012 London.
Colbert (15-0, 6KOs) has grown into a true junior lightweight, in fact one of the bigger—and more skilled—fighters in the division.
The 24-year-old from Brooklyn has proven himself on the prospect and contender level, including his 12-round win over former junior lightweight champion Jezreel Corrales to win an interim version of the WBA 130-pound title last January in Philadelphia. The feat was followed up by perhaps his most impressive showing to date, as Colbert manhandled Jaime Arboleda en route to an eleventh-round stoppage last December at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“From what we’ve seen, he’s very fast and is a good boxer,” notes Nyambayar. “I’m confident we are ready for anything he has to offer on Saturday.”
Time will tell if Nyambayar is ready for anything else outside of his natural featherweight frame.
".For now, let’s see how we feel on Saturday," insists Nyambayar. "Then, we will decide whether to chase big fights at 130 or go back to 126 and win a world title there. We still have unfinished business."
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox