IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in tonight’s intriguing 130lbs encounter between WBA Interim champion Chris Colbert and Mongolian marauder Tugstsogt Nyambayar in California, as well as the WBA lightweight title eliminator between Michel Rivera and Jon Fernandez on the undercard.

After two weekends jam-packed with activity there’s just one meaningful show this weekend, with WBA Interim 130lbs champion Chris Colbert defending his title against substitute Tugstsogt Nyambayar in Carson, California (Saturday night in the US, early Sunday morning in the UK).

Undefeated fighters have been losing their “O” at a quite astonishing clip this year, but I have faith in Colbert. While Colbert is fast and flashy, the 24-year-old Brooklyn southpaw showed he can also stay in the pocket and get the better of the inside fighting in his 11th-round knockout win over Jaime Arboleda last December.

“King Tug” Nyambayar comes in as a replacement for Yuriorkis Gamboa, and this is one of those fights where the substitute is a much tougher opponent than the original. Nyambayar, 29, had a deep amateur career, winning a silver medal representing Mongolia in the Olympics. He now lives in Los Angeles. His only loss in 13 pro bouts was on a unanimous decision against slick left-hander Gary Russell Jr.

So, this is a serious test for Colbert. However, I like Colbert’s speed, talent and fast-twitch reflexes to overcome Nyambayar’s solid boxing technique and perhaps superior punching power.

I think we have seen the best we’re going to see from Nyambayar. He had a long amateur career and his last three bouts were tough ones — the win over southpaw Claudio Marrero,  the loss to Russell and, in his last fight, a hard-earned split decision over Cobia Breedy.

Nyambayar had all he could handle against the energetic, volume-punching Breedy. Nyambayar started off well, knocking down Breedy in each of the first two rounds, but he struggled from the third round onwards. I thought Nyambayar deserved the decision but it was close on the judges’ cards, one judge scoring in favour of Breedy, another judge giving it to Nyambayar by a single point.

Now Nyambayar is moving up in weight, at short notice, to face a younger, fresher, faster fighter who looks the naturally bigger man.

Nyambayar is tough, he’s a good puncher and a competent technician, but I think I see something a little bit special in Colbert. If you would like to bet on Colbert, though, it’s an expensive ticket price at 1/8 (-800). Nyambayar is available at 5/1 (+500) and that’s an enticing price for those who see value in King Tug.

If you don’t want to lay the price on Colbert but don’t think Nyambayar will get there, some propositions are available. This looks like a long fight. Odds for the fight to go the distance are around 4/9 (-225). But, interestingly, Colbert is saying he plans on getting Nyambayar out of the fight before the final bell. He seems pretty confident about this.

We have to take what boxers say with a pinch of salt, but Colbert was punching hard in his last fight when he stopped Arboleda, and Nyambayar is coming up in weight. So an inside-schedule win for Colbert has to be considered a possibility.

Colbert to win by KO TKO DQ is offered at around 11/5 (+220). “Fight not to go the distance” is priced at about 13/8 (+162). 

Colbert was a couple of ounces over the weight limit at the first attempt, which is a slight concern. He made 130lbs on the second try, but I always like a fighter to come in on weight. Still, I have to believe Colbert is in tiptop condition. He’s been sparring with the undefeated lightweight Michel Rivera in Miami. I’m leaning towards the idea that Colbert wins inside the distance, so my preferred play is on the fight not going the full 12 rounds. 

On the same bill, Miami-based Michel Rivera of the Dominican Republic meets Spain’s Jon Fernandez in a 12-round WBA lightweight title eliminator. This is an excellent match-up. Rivera is the favourite but Fernandez looks a live underdog to me.

I’m wondering if Fernandez might be a bit undervalued based on his points defeat against O’Shaquie Foster. This was Fernandez’ only loss. Foster was too slippery and too slick for him. The undefeated Rivera is an excellent boxer-puncher but he isn’t as elusive as Foster. If Fernandez can get to Rivera, he can hurt him. The loss to Foster was three years ago and Fernandez has won five bouts since then.

Rivera is priced at 1/4 (-400) at some outlets. That’s higher than I’d like to go. Rivera’s hand speed and combinations are truly world class but Fernandez is tall and rangy and I make him the puncher in the fight. Fernandez can box a bit, too. At odds of 3/1 (+300) Fernandez could be worth a tickle on a weekend when the betting cupboard is pretty much bare.

Main image: Sean Michael Ham/Premier Boxing Champions.