A meaningful fight is set to take place this Friday, August 15th at Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California. Two ultra aggressive Russian lightweights, Denis Shafikov (33-1-1,18KO’S) and Rustam Nugaev (27-6-1,17KO’S) are scheduled to face off in the ring for twelve rounds or less contest. ESPN Friday Night Fights will televise live.
“This is an elimination fight,” said Denis Shafikov when I interviewed him on Tuesday at Nat’s Thai Restaurant, next door to Wildcard Boxing Club in Hollywood:” If I win I will get another chance to fight for IBF title.” Twenty nine years old Shafikov had his first shot at a title earlier this year, February, 22nd, 2014 to be exact. Defending IBF lightweight champion, Miguel Vasquez outpointed Shafikov over twelve rounds in Macau, China. “The biggest lesson is that I have to use the jab to get inside,” reflected Shafikov about his first professional loss:” We were correcting a lot of mistakes from that fight, but this time my opponent is different, not like Vasquez. It will be more comfortable for me.”
His opponent, 31 years old Nugaev from Perm, Russia has ended his last five fights early and promises to take out Shafikov on Friday night.” You can say anything you want,” said Shafikov when he heard about Nugaev’s promise:” But you have to back it up in the ring. I don’t think it will be so easy for him.”
Actually these two are no strangers. They know each other quite well.” First time I came to United States was in 2006,” said Shafikov who fights out of southpaw stance:”We lived in the same room together for two months. I don’t have anything negative to say about him. He is a good boxer and a good person. But this is boxing and there are no friends in the ring.”
How important is this fight? “I’ve been here two and a half months,” said Shafikov who has been working at Wildcard Boxing Club with Freddie Roach’s assistant Ernie Zavala:” My training camp was excellent.” Denis acknowledged the benefits of moving his training camp from cold Chelyabinsk, Russia to warm Hollywood, California and in particular to a world famous Wildcard Boxing Club.
“Of course it is better to train here,” said Shafikov whose boxing moniker is Djingis Khan (after brutal Mongolian warrior):” New guys come in for sparring every day. So we have a variety of sparring partners we can use.” Aside from daily work outs in the boxing gym, Denis runs early in the mornings, several times a week approximately 8 kilometers or 5 miles at a time and does weight training.
Denis Shafikov started boxing at the age of thirteen. After a brief 5 year amateur career he decided to turn pro.” My style is better suited for professional,” conceded Shafikov, an aggressive come forward banger who is much more comfortable inside the ring than he is giving an interview or predicting the outcome of the fight.” This is boxing,” he said:” I can’t make a prediction, but I will give it a hundred percent. I think everyone is going to love this fight. It will be great for fans.” Don’t miss this one.