Interview With Exciting Lightweight Contender Rustam Nugaev:
Lightweight contender Rustam Nugaev sat down with ProBoxing-Fans.com to discuss his career, including his upcoming March 7 bout against former title challenger Marvin Quintero. Nugaev, a 5’10” slugger, made big strides in 2013 with 4 knockouts in as many bouts–two coming on ESPN. He again looks to inject some excitement on another Friday Night Fights telecast.
Nugaev is 26-6-1 (16 KOs), but as is often the case, the records don’t tell the whole story. Nugaev is better than what his record suggests and has tasted defeat only once in 8 years. The 31-year old is awkward, durable, and can hit like a ton of bricks. He seems to almost go out of his way to make fights exciting. He is a prototypical diamond in the rough–an overlooked fighter looking for an opportunity to showcase his wares. With top-ten rankings in 3 organizations and increased exposure, Nugaev is hoping for a big 2014. Here is what Nugaev had to say:
ProBoxing-Fans.com: With some big knockouts last year, your career is picking up steam. What are your goals for 2014?
Rustam Nugaev: My goals for 2014 are to first focus on this fight against Marvin Quintero and I don’t look past this fight. I don’t want to think about anything else.
You are at an important time in your career. You’ve fought some good fighters and lost only once in 8 years. Is now your time to shine?
RN: It’s high time actually. I’m just looking for the right opportunity, you know?
With a lot of hidden gems on your record, do you think people look past the quality of opposition you have faced?
RN: Actually, yes. They do. Like Izquierdo out of Mexico, the Cuban fighter was a very good fighter, a very tough fight. And Arceo at the time was also a very good fighter. You know he had only one defeat, but it was because of a cut. So practically, I beat an undefeated fighter.
Quintero is a southpaw. You fought a southpaw last year in Daniel Attah, who beat Quintero. Are you doing anything different to get ready for a left-hander?
RN:You know, it’s practically the same. And everything depends on the point of career of the fighter. Attah beat Quintero when he was in his prime and Quintero was just beginning, you know? So that was a factor. In training, the main thing is to get quality sparring partners.
Do you think it’s easier in a way to fight southpaws since it creates more openings for your right hand?
RN:Actually I have a big left hook, as well, which is good against right-handed fighters, you know? People are really picky with the southpaw/right-handed thing. Boxers are either southpaws or right-handed and after so many fights, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. A boxer is not like an octopus, you know? There are only two, you’re either right-handed or a southpaw. So it’s not like there’s one hand in front, a second hand under that, and a third under that. You’re either a southpaw or right-handed. If you’re a boxer, you have to adjust to it. There are only two options.
In his last fight, Quintero lost to current titleholder Miguel Vazquez. Do you think Vazquez is the best lightweight in the world right now?
RN: I am.
Besides you, who do you think is the top guy?
RN: The current champion, they don’t fight, you know? Richar Abril and Vazquez are boxers, runners actually. You could even say Vazquez is a very very good boxer, but the way he fights, he’s enigmatic for other fighters. He has a tough style to beat. He clinches a lot. He runs a lot and he’s hard to figure out because you can’t get sparring partners like him. He’s one of a kind.
You turned pro in 2001 and have been at lightweight the entire time. Are you still comfortable at this weight or do you forward to moving up in the future?
RN: I have no problem making 135. But if a big fight came at 140 or 147, a Pacquiao or a Mayweather, sure.
Another Russian fighter, Ruslan Provodnikov, made a lot of waves on ESPN like you’ve been doing recently. He eventually got some big fights, capitalized on it, and is now in the big-time. Does that give you motivation?
RN: Yeah sure, it’s a good motivation. I actually came here to the States before Ruslan. I just didn’t get my chance, you know? Right now, Gary Shaw (Nugaev’s promoter) is doing a great job. I was signed to Guilty Boxing, which unfortunately went out of business. So I went back home. It was very hard to get any other promoters to sign me. Promoters are like that, they want to know what kind of television you can get, how many tickets you can sell, you know? I mean, I don’t know how many tickets Manny Pacquiao sold when he first came to the United States. Everybody has to judge a fighter by the quality of his fights.
Do you consider yourself a late-bloomer, a fighter who has gotten better with age?
RN: Yeah, maybe. Some guys, especially in the amateurs, leave everything under 18 years old because they mature early, you know? Then after 18 when they fight against adults, they can’t achieve anything. But yeah, I matured later. I came to America and got better. I changed my style and got more power.
Getting to this point took a lot of time and struggle. Nothing was really handed to you along the way. Does that struggle make you more hungry to stay on the right track and keep winning?
RN: Yeah all the hardships made me hungrier. A fighter has to stay hungry to achieve success. At this point in my career, before I get a title shot, it’s important to stay totally hungry and motivated.
Do you make an effort to be such a fan-friendly fighter or is that something that happens on its own?
RN: I like to fight like that. It’s my style and I’ve always been like that.
What fighters do you like to watch?
RN: All fighters I like, Marvin Hagler, Mike Tyson. Roberto Duran.
Do you have a message for your growing fan base who look forward to seeing you on the 7th.
RN: I would like to thank all my fans and supporters. I’m in great shape and I won’t disappoint you.