A crossroads clash between hard-hitting lightweights could push the winner into contender status.
Rustam Nugaev will face Marvin Quintero in an intriguing 10-round bout at the Pala Casino in Pala, Calif., on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights.
Fight fans in the last year have become very familiar with the Russian-born Nugaev. He has appeared on two FNF telecasts, knocking out both foes. He drilled Jonathan Maicelo in the eighth round of an April 2013 bout and did the same to Jose Hernandez in the fifth round in August.
Nugaev (26-6-1, 16 knockouts), who now lives and trains in the Los Angeles area, is riding a five-bout winning streak (four by knockout). In his last bout, Nugaev scored a first-round KO of Mario Hermosillo.
The aggressive boxer-puncher style of Nugaev might compliment that of Quintero, who has not fought since Oct. 2012.
In that bout, the southpaw Quintero (25-4, 21 KOs) lost a 12-round split decision to IBF titleholder Miguel Vazquez. The loss snapped a five-bout winning streak in which he stopped all five opponents.
Aside from the Vazquez fight, Quintero, who resides in Tijuana, Mexico, always seems on the cusp of a big fight. However, he’s fallen short in fights he was favored to win, notably in knockout losses at the hands of Tyrone Harris in 2009 and Daniel Attah in 2010.
This will be Quintero’s first fight in Southern California in almost three years.
In the co-feature bout, super bantamweights Roman Morales and Khabir Suleymanov square off over eight scheduled rounds.
Morales (17-0, 9 KOs) is coming off a 10-round unanimous decision victory over Roberto Castaneda in October. Both fighters were dropped once during the fight.
The San Ardo, Calif., resident also has one-sided victories over Jonathan Arellano and Jesus Antonio Hernandez within the last year.
Morales will face his toughest opponent on paper in Suleymanov (16-3, 6 KOs). The Russian-born fighter has won his last three fights in a row after losing back to back fights.
Suleymanov is coming off an eight-round unanimous decision win over Juanito Rubillar in Montebello, Calif.
Opening the Friday Night Fights telecast will be an eight-round bout between welterweights Dusty Hernandez Harrison and Michael Balasi.
The 19-year-old Harrison (20-0, 11 KOs) is coming off an unanimous decision victory over Tim Witherspoon in January. Balasi (10-3, 7 KOs) has lost his last two bouts.
Welterweight Francisco Santana and unbeaten lightweight Alejandro Luna will fight in separate bouts.
Tickets start at $25 and could be purchased at the Pala Casino Box Office or by calling (760) 510-5100. Doors open at 5 p.m. PT, with first bell at 5:30.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing