SANTA YNEZ, Calif. – In his native Peru, Jonathan Maicelo’s celebrity is on par with Justin Bieber’s in the United States. Out there, he has a national Coca-Cola commercial, as well as one with Frito-Lay. According to his manager Nelson Fernandez, his fights are viewed by 49 percent of the country and men allow their wives to kiss him.
On Friday night, in front of a small crowd at Santa Ynez, Calif.’s Chumash Casino, Maicelo fought in his first televised bout in the United States, meeting tough Russian Rustam Nugaev in the ten-round main event of ESPN2′s Friday Night Fights.
Maicelo fought a toe-to-toe battle with Nugaev, eventually getting caught by a massive right hand in the eighth round, and will now be famous stateside due to the highlight reel knockout he was on the losing end of.
When the initial main event between Marvin Quintero and Ammeth Diaz fell out just a few weeks ago, Maicelo jumped at the opportunity to make American television for the first time.
Though his face may not be ready for another photo shoot too soon after eight grueling rounds with Nugaev, Maicelo passed his first real test. He earned respect from American fight fans for the war he and Nugaev engaged in.
Maicelo showed superior ability when he fought on the outside, but Nugaev was able to lure him into a battle in the trenches early and often. It was there that the two traded and more even terms, with Nugaev landing some quality shots in between Maicelo’s wider swinging ones.
By the fourth round, both fighters had lost a lot of the zip on their punches, but still traded with exciting regularity. Nugaev landed right hands almost at will, but Maicelo always came back in combination when hit with a good shot. Nugaev buckled Maicelo a bit in the fourth, but Maicelo came right back off the ropes with a couple of shots of his own. At the end of the round, the two exchanged without care for defense, putting the crowd on their feet.
Round five was another thriller. Maicelo landed a couple of hard hooks inside that had Nugaev drop his hands and ask for more. Moments later, Maicelo got tagged by a heavy right hand that backed him up. Again, the two traded liberally.
In the sixth, Nugaev hit Maicelo with more combinations, particularly when he had Maicelo backed up against the ropes. At one point, Nugaev landed a series of five or six solid shots that Maicelo took well.
In the seventh, Nugaev hurt Maicelo for the first time when he tagged him hard to the body, which stopped Maicelo in his tracks for a second. Nugaev followed up with a series of power punches that sent him reeling a bit. Moments later, Maicelo’s mouthpiece went flying, and it was restored quickly.
With Maicelo out of gas, the two continued to trade. In the middle of the two shooting right hands, it was Nugaev’s that got their first, and with an extraordinary result. Maicelo went crashing down to the canvas in a YouTube quality knockout that will undoubtedly get many hits. Referee Jack Reiss called the fight off moments after Maicelo hit the canvas, as he was in bad shape. The time of the stoppage was 2:03 of the eighth round.
At the time of the stoppage, two judges had Maicelo ahead 67-66, while a third had Nugaev ahead 67-66.
In the televised opener, Ponce, Puerto Rico’s Jorge Maysonet Jr. (11-1, 10 KOs) failed his first major test as the well-traveled Gabriel Tolmajyan (13-2-1, 3 KOs), of Glendale, Calif., outclassed him en route to a wide unanimous decision.
Maysonet Jr. found out just how big of a leap he was taking, as in the first round Tolmajyan caught him in between his wide-swinging punches to drop him to a knee, resulting in a first round knockdown for the light-hitting Armenian. Television replays confirmed that it was a product of a headbutt. For the remainder of the bout, Maysonet Jr. looked lost, getting tagged by massive shots from Tolmajyan. If Tolmajyan had a killer instinct, he could have perhaps gotten Maysonet Jr. out of there before the final bell, yet seemed content landing one at a time and winning rounds. Scores were 80-71 twice and a way too close 77-75 from Dr. James Jen-Kin.
The knockdown forced Maysonet Jr. to fight more tentatively, allowing Tolmajyan to box him. Maysonet Jr. seemed to suffer a broken jaw early in the fight, as it swelled up on the right side massively and he kept opening his mouth, bothered by the pain. Tolmajyan took advantage of his injured opponent, and every time he hit him on the jaw, Maysonet Jr. went flying.
In the televised swing bout, unbeaten lightweight Alejandro Luna (13-0, 9 KOs), of Bellflower, Calif., earned an entertaining four-round shutout over game Mario Hermosillo (11-10-3, 2 KOs), of Tijuana. Luna showed a prowess for body punching, but the game Hermosillo stood in there and got in his fair share of punches. Luna has an exciting style and has progressed well from his early career bouts. Scores were 40-36 across the board.
Colombian middleweight export Alex Theran (12-0, 8 KOs) made his second fight in the United States a successful one, but not without difficulty. His opponent David Lopez (4-9-3, KO), of Caldwell, Idaho, was extremely game, extending Theran the distance in their six-round middleweight bout. Theran hit Lopez with some crushing shots throughout the fight, but Lopez was never discouraged as he always tried answering back. Lopez’s record is deceiving, he’s never been knocked out and his eight previous losses came against opponents with a combined 51-0 record. Lopez lost every round, but was as competitive as possible. Scores were 60-54 across the board.
Referee Reiss shows why he’s one of the best
Referee Jack Reiss of California showed Friday night why he is one of the best and brightest.
In the main event between Maicelo and Nugaev, Reiss made a brilliant play that really should be implemented regularly. In round seven, Maicelo’s mouthpiece was spit to the canvas and Reiss called time out in order to put it back in.
In most cases, the referee will bring that fighter to their corner, where his team will take all the time in the word rinsing out the mouthpiece and putting it back in. Reiss instead took Maicelo to the opposing corner, where Nugaev’s chief second rinsed the mouthpiece out with quickness and the fight resumed much quicker than it otherwise would have.
Maybe this is something that should be implemented as a rule to avoid fighters getting extra time in the future. Props to Jack Reiss for thinking on his toes.