by Chris Cella
In this week’s edition of ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, lightweight veteran Rustam Nugaev (24-6, 14 KO) takes on Jose Hernandez (14-6-1, 6 KO) in a 10-round contest live from the Morongo Casino Resorts & Spa in Cabazon, California.
While consistency in mounting large winning streaks has been a problem through the career of 30-year-old Nugaev, the Russian lightweight is coming into this fight following two of the biggest wins of his career, both coming this year and both ending by way of stoppage. Nugaev stopped Daniel Attah in 4 rounds this past June, and in April disposed of the then undefeated Jonathan Maicelo in the 8th round.
Prior to the bout with Maicelo, it was 21 months since Nugaev laced up the leather, and now the pugilist is adamant about staying active and fighting often to get his name in the mix of a potential title fight.
“I feel great right now, fighters always say these things but I can prove it on August 9th,” says Nugaev.
“I feel like for the first time in my career I’m going down the right path at the right time, I always believed in luck being a residue of hard work and my opponent is going to have to deal with both come fight night.”
The theme of Jose Hernandez’s career has been his inability to step it up against quality opponents, though in his last fight he pulled off the upset as he defeated rising prospect Tony Luis this past January.
About fighting Hernandez, Nugaev shared, “”He’s a worthy opponent and that is how I want it, make no mistake about my desire to fight the best out there. My opponent can feel good about his accolades, but those accolades only make my victory more impressive.”
This is a crossroads type fight for both lightweights. Nugaev has showed that at 30 he still has what it takes to be a contender in the division and earn his shot against some of the biggest names, while for Hernandez it is about hanging on and again coming in the underdog and exiting the squared circle with the ‘W’.
The action gets started this Friday night, August 8 at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.