Courtesy of Jim Jenkins, Sacramento Bee
Could what happened to Roy Jones Jr. in Australia on Wednesday happen to Oleg Maskaev? Both are 40-year-old former champions versus younger opponents. In Jones’ case, he was up against IBO cruiserweight title-holder Danny Green, 36, whereas the foe ex-heavyweight champ Maskaev is meeting is little-regarded Nagy Aguilera on Dec. 11 in Sacramento. Aguilera is 23 and once was a topflight amateur boxer, but is without ring distinction as a pro. The bout between Maskaev (36-6, 27 KOs), the WBC’s No. 2 contender, and Aguilera (14-2, 9 KOs) will take place at Memorial Auditorium in downtown Sacramento, the Russian-American’s first local fight.
The scheduled 10-rounder is in a 4,000-seat venue, so it won’t draw a huge crowd, and is deemed to a stepping stone toward Maskaev’s ultimate goal — a WBC-approved title-elimination match early next year against no. 1 contender Ray Austin. The winner then moves on against champion Vitali Klitschko, assuming he has no trouble in his next title defense.
But could Maskaev, who won’t be on a big stage this time, be caught looking ahead, as was Jones, targeted to take on Bernard Hopkins after fighting Green?
“I was surprised by that result, but I’m not Roy Jones,” Maskaev said Thursday, back in Sacramento for final preparations following five weeks of high-altitude training in Reno, Nev.
Nodding in agreement were Maskaev’s manager, Fred Kesch, and promoter, Dennis Rappaport.
“You know, anything can happen in boxing, expecially with heavyweights,” said Kesch. “I’m sure Roy Jones was sounding as confident as Oleg is about his fight. The difference is that I know Oleg is in tremendous shape. He had an excellent camp he adapted very well to (new trainer) Chuck McGregor (of Arizona).”
Rappaport said he received calls from outside the U.S. from fellow promoters and boxing figures regarding Jones’ stunning defeat and how that might relate to Maskaev taking what some believe as an unnecessary risk. Austin is not scheduled to fight before the eliminator.
“I had a guy from Germany wondering if I was crazy to go through with this fight,” Rappaport said. “I told him that in order for Oleg to win the title back, he has to stay busy and be well prepared. But if I were to tell you that I am not the least bit worried about next Friday’s fight, I’d be lying. There’s always the unknown in boxing.”
Aguilera did the bulk of his preparations for the fight in Houston. He is due to arrive in Sacramento early next week.