On Saturday, May 26, there were two televised boxing shows running head-to-head in the United States. Top Rank’s card on ESPN+, which featured two title fights in the super flyweight division, commanded more interest among hardcore boxing fans than the PBC show on Fox Sports 1 where the main go was a rather uninteresting pairing of junior welterweights Eddie Ramirez and Argenis Mendez. But the PBC show, aided by a stronger clutch of supporting bouts, produced more fireworks.
The semi-main was a coming-out party for Tugstsogt (don’t ask us to pronounce it) Nyambayar. A 25-year-old featherweight from Mongolia currently domiciled in Los Angeles where he is trained by Joe Goossen, Nyambayar was pitted against Oscar Escandon, a former world title challenger whose list of victims included Jesus Cuellar and Robinson Castellanos.
As an amateur, Nyambayar was reportedly 41-2 with the losses coming in the gold medal round of the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Milan (to McWilliams Arroyo) and the gold medal round of the 2012 London Olympics (to Cuban sensation Robeisy Ramirez). As a pro, he has been well-matched.
In his last fight before last Saturday, the Mongolian was thrust against Harmonito Dela Torre, an undefeated (19-0) fighter from the Philippines. Nyambayar copped a unanimous decision, advancing his record to 9-0, but was extended the distance for the first time in his young career.
Nyambayar and Dela Torre are both lanky. Each stands five-foot-eight, tall for a featherweight. Oscar Escandon, by contrast, stands a shade under five-foot-two. Nyambayar would be punching down, seemingly diminishing the chance of starting a new knockout skein. Moreover, Escandon, who brought a 25-3 record, was also an ex-Olympian, having represented Columbia in the 2004 games. He definitely represented a step up in class for Nyambayar.
Nyambayar was favored, but no one suspected he would win in such a dominant fashion. He had Escandon on the deck five times before the bout was stopped in the third round.
Nyambayar needs to tighten up his defense. He too was on the canvas vs. Escandon, put there by a right hook that grazed him when he was off-balance. Against Harmonito Dela Torre, he was knocked down by a cleaner punch.
The silver lining, one supposes, is that Nyambayar has already proved that he can overcome adversity. However, those knockdowns may be an ominous sign as he moves forward (and perhaps into a higher weight class) as he will run into opponents that pack a harder punch. For the moment, however, the undefeated leather-pusher from the land of Genghis Khan is basking in a head-turning performance that hinted strongly at a very bright future.
Nyanbayar’s fast stoppage allowed for a swing bout, a match that wouldn’t otherwise have been televised. That gave viewers a quick look at Nigerian heavyweight prospect Efe Ajagba. The operable word here is quick. The bout was over in a flash.
Ajagba was matched against Dell Long, a man from West Virginia, fertile territory for heavyweight no-hopers. When they stood at center ring before the opening bell, one could sense that Long, pale-skinned and with a physique trending toward the pudgy, was in for a heap of trouble. The well-muscled, six-foot-five Ajagba, who looked every bit a gladiator, towered over him.
Ajagba put Long to sleep with a punch so brutal that the referee seemingly waived the fight off as Long was falling. The elapsed time was 35 seconds and this wasn’t even Ajagba’s fastest knockout. In his pro debut, he dispatched his opponent in 25 seconds.
Ajagba, the only Nigerian boxer to qualify for the 2016 Olympics, is signed to Richard Schaefer’s Ringstar Promotions. To hasten his development, Schaefer remanded him to Texas to learn his craft under the noted trainer Ronnie Shields. He’s 5-0 (5 KOs) at the moment and, needless to say, he too bears watching.
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