By Jason Pribila – In the classic 1994 film, The Shawshank Redemption, Morgan Freeman’s “Red” used the following quote when discussing Andy Dufresne’s escape from prison. “Oh Andy loved geology. Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really….pressure and time.”
The main event on ESPN2’s Friday Night Fights was in fact a study of pressure and time. Rustam Nugaev supplied the pressure and Jonathan Maicelo simply ran out of time.
The fight was being sold as an opportunity for American fight fans to see the fighter that has been causing a stir inside and out of the ring in his native Peru. Lightweight prospect Maicelo entered the ring at the Chumash Casino in Santa Ynez, California as a headliner for the first time on American airwaves. His opponent, Nagaev (23-6-1, 13 KO) entered the ring for the twenty ninth time as a pro, but for the first time in 643 days.
Already a big star in his home country, Maicelo left behind thousands of adoring fans that have cheered him on in the ring and on reality TV shows. The underwear model also left behind the hot lights from a photo shoot for a gun fight in a boxing ring.
In just over twenty three minutes of action, Maicelo learned how harsh reality-TV could be.
Maicelo wasted no time trying to knock the rust off Nugaev by immediately throwing a pair of lead left hooks. He spent the rest of the opening round showing off his athleticism and quick jab. Nugaev held his own when they stood and traded at the end of the round.
Maicelo continued to score from the outside, while using his legs to escape from his taller foe. Nugaev gobbled up everything Maicelo served him, and began to taunt his opponent by dropping his hands.
Soon Nugaev began to close the gap and shorten the distance. Maicelo’s legs lost their spring and he soon chose to stand and trade. Maicelo landed to the head, but it was Nugaev’s body shots that changed the momentum.
The action continued, as did the shift of momentum. Nugaev clearly won consecutive rounds, and the walls of this prison seemed to be closing in on Maicelo.
Nine minutes remained as round eight began. Maicelo seemed to realize that his legs would not be able to carry him to the finish line, so he tried to get there behind his fists. Nugaev snacked on a few more head shots before setting his feet and unleashing a counter right that dropped Maicelo to the canvas. He lied flat for a few seconds before trying to get to his feet. Referee Jack Reiss had seen enough and held Maicelo down basically telling him that he had been brave enough for one night.
The end came at 2:03 of Round 8.
It was a chilling end to an entertaining scrap. It was reality television that could be replayed in a lecture hall. Pressure and time and the sweetest of sciences.
In the televised opener, Gabriel Tolmajyan (14-2-1, 3KO) set the tone for the fighters of the blue corner. He scored a first round knockdown and never looked back as he dominated the previously unbeaten Jorge Maysonet Jr. (11-1, 10 KO) over eight one-sided rounds.
Maysonet Jr. started as the aggressor, but soon realized that that he was in the ring against someone that actually showed up to win. At first it was not clear if Maysonet was more confused by Tolmajyan’s southpaw stance, or the fact that he was hitting him back. Maysonet, with nose bloodied, looked lost as it was obvious he had never faced this type of adversity in the ring or in the gym.
Tolmajyan may find that a dominant victory on National TV may translate into fewer phone calls from promoters looking to test their young fighters. Let’s hope he gets to test his skills again soon against someone who has actually deserves to be labeled a prospect.
In the swing bout Alejandro Luna (13-0, 9 KO) scored a shutout over the game but limited Mario Hermosillo (11-10-3, 2KO) over four rounds.
Jason Pribila is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on twitter @PribsBoxing