By Alexey Sukachev
The news broke out earlier today that two of the best Russian lightweights (other than Eduard Troyanovskiy) Denis Shafikov and Rustam Nugaev will collide on Aug. 15 in the ESPN-televised IBF eliminator for the #1 rank and a chance to fight long-time IBF lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez.
An August 15 ESPN date is reserved by Gary Show Productions, and BoxRec lists Nugaev as a headliner of the show with an ever-dangerous TBA as his opponent. To confirm the story, first publicized by Allboxing’s Yuri Tarantin, BoxingScene contacted Shafikov’s chief representative Oleg Bogdanov.
“We have agreed to fight on ESPN in mid-August for a chance to avenge Denis’s only loss to the Mexican champion. There was a dilemma. Denis was scheduled to fight on July 26 in a huge Latvian show alongside such megastars as Roy Jones Jr. and James Toney; however he has suffered an injury to his Achilles tendon. It’s too early for him to fight on July 26 for these medical reasons”, commented Bogdanov.
“We had first agreed to fight in Riga, then he suffered this trauma, and we chose to cancel our part of the show. And after that this opportunity has appeared to fight in the USA in an elimination. Clearly, Shafikov won’t be at his absolute best, and he will risk to a degree fighting after such an aggressive recovery but after the Macao disaster we cannot lose any more chances – we need to win this fight no matter what to come back at the very top for the Vazquez rematch”, added Bogdanov. “Indeed, for a plethora of reasons Denis didn’t look like an elite fighter in the first bout with Miguel, and we were all pretty much disappointed. But we have learnt a lesson, and we are ready to show it on Aug. 15 in Santa Ynez”.
Former European 140lb champion Denis “Genghis Khan” Shafikov (33-1-1, 18 KOs) is presently rated #9 by the IBF and #10 by the WBO. He has lost his last fight to Miguel Vazquez in an ugly performance, marred by multiple clinches and excessive holding, mostly initiated by the defending champion, who forced Shafikov, 29, to play his game and eventually cruised to a convincing unanimous decision (115-113, 116-112 and 119-110). That fight was fought on Feb. 22 in Macao. Shafikov is known as a quick stylist with fast combinations but his punch lacks one-shot power.
Red hot WBC #3, IBF #5 and WBA #7 Rustam Nugaev (27-6-1, 17 KOs) is two years older than Shafikov and started his career two years before his compatriot but fought in a lower number of fights, as his career was hampered by several major breaks, the last one occurring between July 2011 and March 2013. However, Nugaev is 5-0, with 5 KOs, after that including spectacular televised stoppages of 19-0 Jonathan Maicelo and 14-6-1 Joe Hernandez. Rustam isn’t known as a supreme boxer but rather than a stalker with average speed but killing power – both one-time and long-lasting. He is also sadly known for his July 2005 battle with Mexican Martin Sanchez, which he ended with a ninth-round TKO. Sanchez has passed away the day after the fight during the emergency surgery to remove his subdural hematoma.
Nugaev and Shafikov have one opponent in common. In March 2011 Nugaev has lost his minor title fight to another Uzbek stylist Alisher Rakhimov (21-0 at the time) on a close unanimous decision (118-112, 117-113 and 116-112). Two years later, Shafikov turned on a vintage performance of his own, clearly outboxing Rahimov over ten rounds, when the latter got himself DQ'd out of the fight, following numerous low blows by Alisher.
Meanwhile, BoxingScene has also got to know from reliable American sources, that reigning IBF champion Miguel Vazquez (34-3, 13 KOs), 27, who has recently signed with Al Haymon, ponders on a move to the light welterweight division in the near future.
Vazquez has been holding his IBF 135lb title for almost four years, since capturing it against Ji-Hoon Kim in August 2010, defending it six times against Ricardo Dominguez, Leonardo Zappavigna, Ammeth Diaz, Marvin Quintero, Mercito Gesta and Shafikov.
The show will be promoted by Gary Show Productions at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California. The show will also feature a quick comeback of welterweight Francisco Santana (20-3-1, 9 KOs), who has recently spoiled the perfect record of notable prospect Eddie Gomez (16-0). Santana is set for ten against a familiar figure in Nick Casal (22-4-1, 17 KOs), who will made a high-risk move, fighting for the first time since October 2011 and since a vicious beating he has taken by a gang of attackers following an alleged altercation with the ex-boyfriend of his ex-girlfriend; the accident taking place in May 2012. Casal vs. Santana fight is reportedly set for six rounds.
Also on the card is WBC/WBA #6 and IBF #8 super featherweight Jose Pedraza (17-0, 11 KOs) in a scheduled ten-rounder against yet unidentified opponent.