Colbert's career arc continues upward as he overcomes a stiff challenge from Nyambayar to pull away down the stretch and retain his interim 130-pound world title Saturday night on PBC on SHOWTIME.
There is no doubt Chris Colbert can light up a room when it’s pitch dark with his trademark fluorescent hair alone. The 24-year-old from Brooklyn, New York, wants to light up the super featherweight division.
Colbert intended to continue his glowing arc upward Saturday night in a SHOWTIME Championship Boxing main event from Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.
Tugstsogt “King Tug” Nyambayar, fighting heavier than 128 pounds for the first time, posed an obstacle looking to dim the flashy, orange-clad “Prime Time.” Yet Colbert answered with a convincing 12-round victory to retain the WBA Interim World Super Featherweight title.
Colbert (16-0, 6 KOs) was hardly threatened, handing Nyambayar (12-2, 9 KOs) his second loss in his last three fights after taking the fight on 12 days’ notice as a late replacement for Yuriorkis Gamboa, who injured his rib in training.
Judges Carla Caiz and Fernando Villarreal each scored it 118-110 for Colbert, while Zachary Young had it 117-111 for Prime Time. The judges agreed on nine of the 12 rounds.
“I’m going to be real, for a 126-pounder, (Nyambayar) carried power,” Colbert said. “The name of the game in boxing is hit and not get hit. I had to use my Muhammad Ali tactics, float like a butterfly and sting like a bee. We had a tremendous training camp. We sparred with Michel Rivera. He’s a much bigger guy, a stronger guy.
“I practiced that through my whole training camp, using my jab, using my speed. In boxing, the jab will set you free. It will get you in trouble and out of trouble a lot of the time. I’m very slippery, it’s not that easy to hit me. If you catch me with one good, you’re lucky."
Within the first 14 seconds of the fight, Nyambayar, the 2012 Olympic flyweight silver medalist, nailed Colbert with a right to the head. Then Colbert bounced a right off of Nyambayar’s head, in a brisk first that was contrary to both fighters, who are traditionally cautious starters. Halfway through the first, Colbert began establishing his jab.
“Prime Time” threw 62 punches in the first. He normally throws an average of 22.
In the second, Colbert started as a southpaw. But Nyambayar, 29, crowded Colbert and took a few body shots against the ropes. By the middle of the second, Colbert went back to a conventional stance, working behind a metronome-like jab, which was more effective.
Standing between rounds, Colbert appeared to be in control, though not as in control as he wanted to be.
With 2:25 left in the fifth, referee Thomas Taylor called a brief halt after the fighters clashed heads. Neither was cut and the fight resumed. Fighting orthodox, Colbert stood in the pocket and worked well behind the jab, mixing in an occasional right.
Using distance well, doubling with his jab and then bringing his right hand over the top, Colbert stayed consistent with that process. Nyambayar had no answer. When he came forward, Nyambayar would hit nothing but the leather of Colbert’s gloves. In the final seconds of the seventh, Colbert had backed Nyambayar into the ropes and slammed the body.
As the rounds wore on, Nyambayar could only win by knockout. Moving up from featherweight, Nyambayar may not have taken his power with him. Nyambayar closed the eighth very well, winning possibly his second round of the fight.
There were some faint fireworks in the last round, when Colbert ate a left hook, but there was no question who won the fight.
Colbert showed great class after the final bell, telling Nyambayar “You’re going to cause problems at 126 and I appreciate you for taking this fight, keep your heads up.
“I’m No. 1 in the WBA," Colbert continued. "Hopefully, we’ll back in 2021.”
Michel Rivera rises from canvas to score highlight-reel KO over Jon Fernandez
Michel Rivera looked like a baby “Muhammad Ali,” wearing the white trunks and black stripe down the side with “Ali” embossed across the front on his black waistband. The gifted 23-year-old from the Dominican Republic even had Ali’s classic flat top haircut and swift footwork.
Jon Fernandez, 25, was going to be his biggest challenge to date—and he was. Fernandez was riding a five-fight winning streak entering their 12-round WBA lightweight eliminator and knocked down Rivera (21-0, 13 KOs) for the first time in his career—before Rivera rose to stop Fernandez at :44 of the eighth.
“I am the reincarnation of Muhammad Ali,” Rivera said. “Fernandez is a good fighter who hits hard, but he doesn’t have the skill that I have. I had to get him tired and I knew I could get to him. My coach was telling me that my right hand would be able to land. Once I landed it, I knew right away that the fight was over.
“I had a plan, but I had to throw I away once he got me with a punch. I knew since the first round that I would have to be careful with him. He had heavy hands and was taller than me, but I was faster and more skilled overall.”
And much like Ali, Rivera wanted to continue talking.
Fernandez started well winning the first two rounds and it looked like he came off a very good third. It got interesting in Rivera’s corner between and third and fourth rounds. Tinin Rodriguez, Rivera’s trainer, told him he lost the third, then asked if his right hand was hurt. When Rivera nodded ‘no,’ Rodriguez told him, “Then throw.”
In the fourth, Rivera rocked Fernandez (21-2, 18 KOs) with a right. Rivera had his best round of the fight, to that point, using his jab wonderfully to the body and the head to set up a potent overhand right.
The fourth seemed to put Rivera in command. He smacked a right-left combination off of Fernandez’s head in the fifth, then nailed him with a left hook to the body.
Then, with 1:35 left in the sixth, everything appeared to change. Fernandez timed a right on Rivera’s face, just as Rivera had missed with a left to the body leaving himself exposed. Rivera went crumbling to the canvas, knocked down for the first time in his career. Rivera gamely rose and fought back.
“I was trying to find the distance, and around round 6 or 7 the distance got a little tighter,” Rivera said. “Fernandez is a good boxer, and I know that he has good condition. He has great experience and he is good in Spain. I know that he fights with good European talent.
“You can see that he is a top guy with a good record and experience. I know that he is tough clearly. To be honest, I felt like I was winning on the cards anyway. My corner would tell me ‘You lost this (round)’ and I felt I was up 5-2.
Rivera used his considerable handspeed in his seventh to climb back into the fight, banging Fernandez with a right uppercut, once again set up by the jab.
Rivera then put the exclamation point on a wonderful performance, sans the one glitch in the sixth, and popped a crushing overhand right behind Fernandez’s left ear—set up by the jab—with 2:25 left in the eighth. Almost off of a delay, Fernandez toppled down on his face like a clay statue being pushed over as referee Jack Reiss counted him out.
Fernandez barely got to his knees before falling back down again.
All three judges had Rivera up, 67-65, at the time of the stoppage with all agreeing Fernandez won only one round—the sixth.
“I can fight with Ryan Garcia, I can fight with Teofimo Lopez, and I’m not joking,” Rivera said. “I know that I can fight with any of the top five in the lightweight division. I live in the gym and I have made the sacrifices to be great and I have a great team behind me.”
“(Looks at his medal) This goes for Rolando Romero. Once I do face him, I would like to go up against Gervonta Davis or Teofimo Lopez next.”
For a closer look at Colbert vs Nyambayar, check out our fight night page.