A violent war between two Russian hardasses ended with Denis Shafikov badly damaging Rustam Nugaev’s face en route to a stoppage victory on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights.
The two lightweights went right at it as if they didn’t once live together at an earlier phase of their careers, with Nugaev slightly outworking Shafikov through the first couple rounds. But once Shafikov upped his work rate, Nugaev couldn’t overcome him. Shafikov was faster and the superior boxer, using angles and connecting with a higher accuracy rate. Nugaev, perhaps because of Shafikov’s excellent movement, couldn’t or wouldn’t sit down on his shots to hurt Shafikov much.
It got ugly late, with Nugaev apparently suffering a broken cheek bone, based on the swollen left side of his mug. He also was bleeding from one eye and his nose, and apparently swallowing a lot of blood. Nugaev’s corner talked about stopping it at the end of the 8th, but Nugaev lobbied for one more round. He came out bravely in the 9th, but it didn’t take long for Shafikov’s accurate punching — a left to the body was particularly eye-catching — to make referee Jack Reiss wave it off. It was a very good call by Reiss.
The win puts Shafikov’s recent loss to Miguel Vazquez in a certain perspective, that perspective being that Vazquez is pretty good. Vazquez outboxed Shafikov thoroughly, and Shafikov boxed really well tonight. Of course, Nugaev is going to make a lot of guys look like a really good boxer. Still, it was a convincing and important win, and puts him right back on the map.