In the flyweight final in men’s boxing, Tugstsogt Nyambayar of Mongolia forced his way in with an upset over the top seed, thus giving NBC’s tongue-tied Teddy Atlas, who’s had enough problems with names thus far, a whole new challenge indeed.
Nyambayar used a jab to near-perfection in mastering the distance and coming up with a win over Russia’s Misha Aloian, who was the top seed in the tournament and the #1-rated competitor in the AIBA rankings. Yes, this was considered quite an upset, because Aloian had won the latest world championship event in this weight class.
Aloian is a southpaw who likes to use his relative lack of height to advantage, making it difficult for taller, orthodox fighters to reach him. But in this case it was just the opposite; Nyambayar used his dimensions to his advantage.
Nyambayar is no stranger to the upper reaches of the flyweight and/or light flyweight divisions. He took home a silver medal in the flyweight division at the 2009 World Amateur Championships, the same year he had already won bronze at the Asian Championships. In last year’s AIBA World Amateur Boxing Championships he got through to the third round of action before losing.
This time, however, he has easily outdone himself.
Nyambayar has clearly peaked at the right time. He was landing with pinpoint punches and frustrating the hell out of Aloian, who simply couldn’t get through to him with enough frequency. At the end of the first round it was 6-4 in his favor and grew that lead by one after six minutes. The final tally had him up by 15-11.
In the gold medal match on Sunday he will face off against Robeisy Ramirez Carrazana of Cuba, who defeated a well-supported Michael Conlan of Ireland, doubling the score (20-10).
Ramirez has become one of the rising stars of these Olympic Games, although unless he defects we will never see his talents on display in the pro ranks. The 18-year-old was much the best against Conlan, who came out at the bell very aggressively and just was not able to penetrate Ramirez’s guard, and was subsequently countered with flurries. The Cuban southpaw won the first round by three points. Then he stepped up his own offensive attack in the second, and simply started to pull away. Ultimately Conlan fell victim to an eight-count, and the outcome by that point was not even in doubt.
Cubans have always done well in boxing in the Olympics, and the country has produced some f the legendary champions of the Games, including heavyweight Teofilo Stevenson and Felix Savon. But Cuba has not won a gold medal in boxing since the 2004 Olympics.
Ramirez, who is young enough that we could see him in multiple Olympiads, will be the favorite to bring that prize home.