King Tug’s Crowning

By Cain Bradley on October 3, 2018
King Tug’s Crowning
Goossen thinks highly of the Mongolian, describing him as the “next Manny Pacquiao.”

Nyambayar looks a natural fit for a title reign. He is a big featherweight, backed by an incredible amateur pedigree…

Which country has had more Olympic boxing medals since 2000, Mexico or Mongolia? Point if you said Mongolia. You could point out that Mexico has nowhere near the success in amateur boxing compared to professional. So, let’s add in Hungary, Poland and Argentina; nations in the top ten of Olympic boxing gold medals. Still Mongolia has more medals. Wrestling has long been the native sport of Mongolia but in 2008, boxing joined Judo as the only Olympic sport Mongolia has won gold in. Boxing is slowly becoming a national sport, which the nation is very good at. With Tugstsogt Nyambayar, they may be about to take a tiny bit of the success into the professional ranks.

For most British fans their only experience with a Mongolian fighter comes from Choi Tseveenpurev. The warrior become a fan favourite with his fun style. He never got near to a world title but managed to win a Prizefighter tournament and became the first man to beat Derry Matthews when viciously stopping him in five. The Asian country has had one world champion though. That was Lkhagva Dugarbaatar, better known as Lakva Sim. He not only was a world champion, but was a two-weight world champion. Like some of the great amateurs of today, he was moved along quickly. In only his sixth bout he took IBF Super Featherweight Champion Yong-Soo Choi to a split decision, losing his first attempt at a world title.  He defeated the unbeaten Takanori Hatakeyama for a world title two years later. He lost it to Jong-Kwon Baek and a later title challenge to Yodsanan Sor Nanthachai. After this setback he moved up to lightweight and won a world title which he ended up losing to Juan Diaz. Sim goes down alongside Enkhbatyn Badar-Uugan, who won Olympic gold, as the greatest Mongolian boxer yet.

Tugstsogt Nyambayar is only 25 and has already had a career that most would be happy with. He was only 17 for his first amateur world championships. Not fazed one bit, he made it through to the final where he lost to McWilliams Arroyo. He also won a silver at the 2012 Olympics impressively defeating Elvin Mamishzade, Vincenzo Picardi, Jasurbek Latipov and Misha Aloyan.  In the final he came up against Robeisy Ramirez, the classy Cuban edging Nyambayar 17-14. He did have struggles elsewhere; going 3-2 in the WSB, losing to Mamishzade in the third round of the 2011 Worlds and struggling in the Asian Games. He entered his final World Championships in 2013, where he lost in the second round to eventual champion Javid Chalabiyev. He had a reported 130 bouts before turning professional.

The man dubbed “King Tug” headed over to America, to begin his professional career at the start of 2015. He went to California looking for one man, Joe Goossen. Goossen suspects he was influenced by the stylings of Diego Corrales, arguably his most famous pupil. Goossen thinks very highly of the Mongolian, describing him as the “next Manny Pacquiao.” Tug inked a deal with Al Haymon and aimed to fight for a world title within ten fights. Injuries and inactivity had maybe put that beyond reach. Like compatriot Lakva Sim though, he had been matched hard. Since his debut 39 months ago, he has only fought 38 rounds in ten fights. His first two opponents were dispatched in the third round. His third bout saw him step up to take on Arturo Badillo, who entered with a 21-7 record. He was a former world title challenger and Tug stopped him as quick as anyone except for the man who beat him for that title—Hugo Fidel Cazares. Pedro Melo was defeated and Tug became the first man to stop Juan Ruiz.

Another step up came against Rafael Vazquez, who had only lost twice and never been stopped. Nyambayar changed that, knocking him down three times in the first round before the referee jumped in. He went on to stop German Meraz and the incredibly tough Jhon Gemino. In his ninth fight he would take on unbeaten Filipino Harmonito Dela Torre. Despite being knocked down early, Nyambayar got up to win a comfortable decision. His most recent bout came against Oscar Encandon, who was 25-3 before the fight and was coming off a defeat in a world title bout against Gary Russell. Russell stopped him in seven, Nyambayar destroyed him in three. He dropped Escandon five times, although he was also dropped in the first round, caught with a hook. The second round though he launched into fierce attacks beginning with a right-left-right combination. From there Escandon was merely trying to survive until referee Keith Hughes finally stopped it. Following his victory over Escandon, he called out all the champions at the weight.

Given his victory over Escandon, a man most would have considered to be in the top fifteen of the weight, King Tug has ascended to that position in ten bouts. I would imagine he will have another bout or two before being given a world champion. The WBC’s latest rankings have not updated, as he sits behind Escandon in eighth. He was unranked by the WBA, WBO and IBF, although updates may change that. The problem is, I am not sure many champions will want to take him on as a voluntary. The one champion who may is Leo Santa Cruz. He boxes for Al Haymon as well and is the first champion King Tug named. Most people also believe him to be the best champion. He is an aggressive puncher but showed against Frampton his boxing ability. He did call out the champions after his last fight and that may be the best way to get a shot. Otherwise he does not seem particularly marketable and is perhaps more risk than the reward is worth. Russell will have the speed advantage and is dangerous if King Tug chooses to mix it up on the inside, but his timing and power could worry Russell. Josh Warrington does not have that speed or explosiveness and his bullying style would be unlikely to work against the accuracy and power of Tug. Oscar Valdez also has a great amateur background and power but he is just as hittable; it could be a real war.

Despite suggestions that he would be able to make a lower weight, he is huge at Featherweight. He measures at 5’8, bigger than all the other top boxers at the weight except for Scott Quigg and Lee Selby but his reach is not exceptional. He comes out with his hands high and tight, bobbing his head looking to move forward. He comes forward throughout the fight, fighting with a measured aggression, looking to always move either his feet or his head and pressure his opponent back without being reckless. His work rate is high, he constantly feints (R1 2.36 1, R2 2.07 v Dela Torre) or is active with his movement and Compubox did show him has throwing 374 punches through six rounds. Against he does occasionally drop the front hand, something he did frequently against Dela Torre (R7 0.55 v Gemino, R1 2.16, R2 0.44/2.36, R3 0.13 v Dela Torre and R2 0.08 v Escandon).

A converted orthodox fighter, the thing that becomes obvious very quickly is the power he hits with. His punches land with an audible thud. It is mainly in the right hand, which sends opponents flying back. His best punch is an unorthodox right hand which can remind you of Pacquiao. He leans left to avoid the punch of an opponent and throws a looping right which lands with phenomenal accuracy and power (R1 0.14, R2 2.45 and 1.34, R3 0.30, R4 2.50 and R5 2.14). Even when he throws it straighter, it lands just as impressively (R1 1.37, R9 1.42/1.39/1.33 v Gemino, R2 2.34/1.32, R3 2.38/2.31/1.32, R6 1.05/0.59, R7 2.29 and R8 1.59 v Dela Torre and R2 0.48, 0.28 and R3 2.30, 2.25 v Escandon).

He has all the punches in his arsenal and goes to the body very well with straights and left hooks (2.39 v Vazquez, R1 2.35, R2 1.35, R4 1.59 v Gemino and R2 1.24/1.02, R3 2.17, R4 0,13, R7 0.31 v Dela Torre). Tug also showed against Escandon that he would throw the uppercut when the opportunity presented (R1 0.49/0.21 and R2 1.23/1.10/0.50 v Escandon). He mixes them in with fluid combinations, deceiving opponents with little change ups (R2 2.27 and 1.35, R3 2.24, R5 2.12, R6 1.04, R7 1.12 and 0.17, R8 2.10 v Gemino, R3 0.55, R5 2.18 v Dela Torre and R1 1.52, 1.13, R2 2.43 v Escandon). He puts combinations together very well, setting up his power punches in clever ways. These can be seen to great effect against Vazquez. The first knockdown comes with a straight right to the body, before ducking down to fake another then landing the thudding right to the head (2.32). The second knockdown also came from a clever combination; he slightly delays the right hand after a double jab and the off timing means it lands flush, sending Vazquez down (2.04). The second knock down against Escandon saw him fake the left hook and instead throw a straight right that crushed Escandon (R3 2.05 v Escandon). He also uses different speeds to help him deceive his opponent, the quickest combinations often coming when he has his opponent in a bad position (R3 2.36, R5 2.08 v Gemino and R1 1.13, R6 2.48, R7 2.46 and R8 2.13 v Dela Torre). The best combination I saw though came when he rolled inside the lead hand of Gemino, changing his angle to launch a ferocious lead uppercut (R7 0.17).

Tug gets the jab going early, looking to use it to poke holes in the oppositions defence. He is creative with it, throwing triple jabs at an almost unmatched rate (R1 2.54/2.31/1.51, R2 1.47, R9 1.55, R10 2.40 v Gemino, R1 1.04, R5 1.14 and 0.30 v Dela Torre). It is a good piston-like jab, marking Gemino up early (R1 0.19). Tug’s aggression also means as fight go on, he tends to push opponents back towards the ropes. Happy to mix it with punches, he does let his opponents out too easily in what is a good position for him (R3 1.49, R8 1.06 v Gemino) The biggest weakness is he can be far too hittable. He gets caught far too often and has even been dropped (R2 0.08 v Dela Torre and R1 0.46 v Escandon) but neither time seemed hurt.

Some of the shots he takes come when exchanging, exchanges which suit him taking a shot to land one (R2 2.01, R4 2.05 and R5 0.30 v Gemino and R3 2.40 v Dela Torre). Against Vazquez he was caught with a left hook when on the attack to get the finish (1.48 v Vazquez). It happened through the Gemino fight as well though. He gets caught with shots, sometimes these are not clean as his guard is tight (R1 1.07, 0.49 and R2 1.13 v Gemino) but he does get caught with cleaner shots as well (R4 2.30, R5 2.37, R6 2.15, R8 2.37 and R 1.19 v Gemino, R1 2.55/1.51/0.28, R4 2.34 and R5 0.21 v Dela Torre and R1 1.42/1.38/1.22 and R2 2.23/1.58 v Escandon). It seems to only spur him on, nodding at Gemino after he landed a good punch (R6 2.05 v Gemino).

His defense tends to be passive rather than active. He covers up (R1 2.00 v Gemino) and uses small, subtle movements (R1 2.47, 0.34 v Gemino) but often leaves himself not ready to counter. He trusts a lot in his control of range which means he often only needs a slight lean to get away from his oppositions punches (R4 0.44 v Gemini and R1 1.30/0.54, R3 1.32 v Dela Torre and R3 2.08 v Escandon). The odd thing is, he has all the defensive tools in his bag. He can measure range and counter (R1 2.31, 0.10, R2 1.48 and R4 0.44 v Gemini and R5 2.44 v Dela Torre), roll and counter (R6 0.38 v Gemini) and slip with a counter (R3 0.45, R5 2.29, 1.27 and R8 1.25 v Dela Torre). A lot of his problems are lapses, he gets caught flat-footed (R2 2.09 and R4 0.55/0.34 v Gemino) or retreating in straight lines (R8 2.44 v Dela Torre).

Nyambayar looks a natural fit for a title reign. He is a big featherweight, backed by an incredible amateur pedigree. He has adapted his skills to the professional ranks incredibly well. Nyambayar knows his potential and wants to make history. As the sport grows in Mongolia, he describes himself as “grateful to have my entire country behind me.” The power is absolutely for real. He has dynamite in either hand, that reminds me of Inoue, the force he lands with. So far, he looks to have a really fan-friendly style and will willingly engage into a slugfest. How far he can go will likely defend on his defensive abilities and the extent to which he can develop them. Young and big with an exciting style, the comparisons to Manny Pacquiao are not a million miles off. That is absolutely the best-case scenario and he does not have the reckless abandon of the early Pacquiao. His power is probably better though and if it can carry through the weights, he can surely travel up to at least lightweight. Hopefully he takes on another top-level fighter soon and by the end of the year has fought for a world title. He belongs in that company. It may be a short list, but Nyambayar could easily become the greatest fighter Mongolia has ever had. King Tug needs crowning.

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