By Jake Donovan
Neither ring rust or his opponent's unbeaten record fazed Rustam Nugaev at all, as the Russian scored a minor upset with a crushing 8th round knockout of Jonathan Maicelo in their main event Friday evening at Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California.
The tone was set early for a vicious slugfest, which wasn't a good fit for Maicelo. The unbeaten Peruvian - now based in Northern New Jersey - began strong, but the sense was that he didn't have a prayer of maintaining the lead.
The whispers proved true.
Round by round, Nugaev continued to close the gap and force Maicelo into an uncomfortably physical battle. Maicelo's hands-down style proved to be a detriment, as Nugaev - who struggled early to find a home for his right hands - began to land with alarming regularity.
Realizing that boxing and moving was no longer going to work, Maicelo attempted to get his opponent's respect by standing and trading. The tactic had its moments of success, but never to where he managed to turn the tide back in his favor.
Nugaev continued his hunt before catching the highly touted prospect with a right hand on the inside. Maicelo went down like a ton of bricks, knocked out to the point where referee Jack Reiss ended his count at three as he waved off the contest.
The official time was 2:03 of round eight.
Nugaev picks up the biggest win of a career marred by inactivity. The bout was his first since July 2011, but looked like a world beater in improving to 23-6-1 (13KO).
Maicelo suffers his first loss as a pro, falling to 19-1 (11KO).
In the televised co-feature, Gabriel Tolmajyan served a boxing lesson to previously unbeaten Jorge Maysonet Jr. in a mild upset.
Scores were 80-71 twice and far too close 77-75 in favor of Tolmajyan (14-2-1, 3KO), who set the tone early with an opening round knockdown and never let up. Maysonet Jr. tried his hardest to back down the Armenian transplant, but found himself up against a brick wall in that regard.
Tolmajyan picks up his second significant win over a previously unbeaten opponent, having previously snatched the "0" from Daulis Prescott. His previous trip to the Chumash Casino resulted in a controversial points loss to then-unbeaten Abraham Lopez.
Meanwhile, it's back to the drawing board for Maysonet Jr., who has a long way to go to even measure up to his father, former 1980's welterweight contender Jorge Luis Maysonet. The loss was reflective of the 23-year old's soft record, looking clueless at times as he falls to 11-1 (10KO).
Unbeaten lightweight prospect Alejandro Luna impressed in a over Mario Hermosillo (11-10-3, 2KO). Scores were 40-36 across the board for Luna in the televised swing bout. Luna (13-0, 9KO) has yet to fight outside of his home state of California, but looked good in a bout that resembled a step up in class.
All three bouts aired live on ESPN2 Friday Night Fights.
OFF TV (from Francisco Salazar, live at ringside)
In an all-out war, junior middleweight Eric Prado won a four round majority decision over Julian Cruz. Prado (2-2-1) was the more effective fighter in the beginning of the fight. However, Cruz, who was making his professional debut, was able to counter Prado effectively in the final two rounds. Both men had their moments in the final round, even though it looked as though Prado was tired and was taking more punishment. One judge scored the bout 38-38, while the other two judges scored the bout 39-37 in favor of Prado.
Middleweight Alex Theran (12-0, 8 KOs) won a one-sided six round unanimous decision over tough David Lopez. Theran landed the harder punches in the battle of the dueling southpaws. Theran consistently landed counter right hooks to the head of Lopez, whose face reddened as the bout progressed. Not to be outdone, Lopez (4-9-3, 1 KO) would occasionally land a counter left cross to the head of Theran. However, Theran was busier when it counted, especially on the inside. In the final round, Theran stunned Lopez in the final moments of the sixth round, but was not able to drop him to the canvas. Theran was announced the winner by unanimous decision, but no scores were announced.
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox