Boxing: Rustam Nugaev

Nugaev squares off with Hernandez on FNF

August, 8, 2013

Lightweight Rustam Nugaev has an opportunity to solidify himself as a serious contender at 135 pounds -- if he beats Jose Hernandez.

Nugaev and Hernandez square off in an attractive main event on ESPN's "Friday Night Fights" (ESPN2, 10 p.m. ET) from the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, Calif.

Following a nearly two-year layoff, Nugaev (24-6, 14 KOs) enters the bout with three consecutive victories, including stoppage victories over Nigeria's Daniel Attah, a veteran who has faced top-tier opponents, and then-undefeated Peruvian fighter Jonathan Maicelo.

Hernandez (14-6-1, 6 KOs), a native of Fort Worth, Texas, comes to the fight after handling Canadian Tony Luis his first defeat in an exciting eighth-round knockout. Hernandez was a late replacement who took the bout on less than two weeks' notice.

Those victories opened the doors for the two fighters to be pitted against each other in the main event. Both are ready to give it all and take their careers to the next level.

Nugaev's manager, Edward Goumachian, noted that this will be his charge's third fight in just over four months.

"It is too much, so we made some adjustments in the preparation and looked for the right sparring partners, such as Carlos Molina at lightweight and Charles Huerta at 126 pounds, in order to work on speed with him," Goumachian said.

Hernandez's trainer, Richard Best, highlighted the hard work his fighter has done in advance of Friday's bout.

"We had a long training camp," Best said. "We worked with good sparring partners, and we closed the Houston gym The Plex to work with Ronnie Shields.

"Nugaev is a tall guy, tough as hell, and even though he is not greatly technical, he is always looking to overwhelm his opponents using his pressure. It will be a fight to the finish, and Jose knows it, just as well as he knows he can win too."

Nugaev is showing respect for his opponent, although he is confident he can defeat him. He knows a victory could put him in the conversation for bigger names at lightweight, including Yuriorkis Gamboa, Jorge Linares and Antonio DeMarco.

Due to the styles of the two opponents, Friday's fight promises to be entertaining. Nugaev will likely impose his aggression early by throwing powerful combinations. The Russian has a good punch, and against Maicelo, he demonstrated he can absorb a lot of punishment, although his firepower appeared to be inferior.

The fight will be a power struggle, with lots of exchanges, and whichever fighter can better withstand punches will have the advantage. For Nugaev, the question remains whether the accumulation of demanding fights in so little time after a long period of inactivity will have any serious effect.

In the co-main event, undefeated Jose Pedraza (13-0, 9 KOs), a former Puerto Rican Olympian, faces Armenia's Gabriel Tolmajyan (14-2-1, 3 KOs) in a 10-round lightweight bout.

Pedraza, 24, is one of the most promising prospects in the sport and is coming off three straight knockout victories. Tolmajyan, who expects to provide a touch challenge, has become somewhat of an expert at finishing unbeaten fighters, having defeated Jorge Maysonet Jr. and Daulis Prescott in recent bouts.

Maicelo brings style, promises action

April, 4, 2013
Unbeaten Peruvian prospect Jonathan Maicelo will be featured in the main event of this week's "Friday Night Fights" in a 10-round bout against Russia's Rustam Nugaev at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, Calif.

Maicelo, 29, is a celebrity in his country, where this week a documentary about his life, called "Road to Glory," will air on Peruvian television. He has appeared in TV commercials, represents his own line of clothing and boasts a rabid fan base that includes Ollanta Humala, the president of Peru.

Nugaev, 30, is a solid but untested opponent who is coming off a stretch of seven wins in his past eight fights. His lone defeat came at the hands of undefeated Alisher Rahimov in March 2011. Nugaev has never been stopped, although he hasn't fought since July 2011.

Maicelo (19-0, 11 KOs) hopes to continue his unbeaten streak after notching a second-round TKO of Tyler Ziolowski in January, his most recent bout. Nicknamed "The Cobra," he has a decidedly serpentine style, featuring defensive waist movements and a calculated but aggressive attack. Maicelo puts together fast combinations with both hands, although his most potent power comes from a nasty right hook. He manages his strategy from a distance and shows soild balance, but he rarely stands firmly on the ground when throwing punches.

When Maicelo takes control of the center of the ring and establishes the tempo of a fight, he usually neglects his guard -- an open invitation to his opponent -- and in those instances he lowers one of his arms and throws sneaky straight hands in the style of Sergio Martinez. He usually refrains from sustained toe-to-toe action, although he won't shy away from a good exchange, such as those in his 2010 win over Alberto Santillan -- a true war.

"On [Friday], you will see a technical fighter, a very dynamic fighter with a lot of hunger, and a fighter that you will want to see again," Maicelo said. "I won't let you down, and I promise to give the fans what they want: a lot of action."

Nugaev (22-6, 12 KOs) is a question mark due to the potential rust of a two-year layoff. His frontal style, tight guard and permanent search for a short-distance fight could be tailor-made for Maicelo, who figures to use the entire ring and throw punches from all angles.

Given the fighters' styles, a knockout seems unlikely. Maicelo is elusive and rarely takes flush shots. Nugaev is stiff, but he's also resilient and can take a punch. All signs point toward a decision in favor of Maicelo, who could be considered for a title opportunity with a good showing.