This Thursday night in Niagara Falls, NY Nick Casal will return to the ring for the first time in nearly three years. Casal (22-4, 17 KO's) will be the main event in a six round bout against veteran Shahka Moore. While Moore isn’t the caliber of opponent Casal is used to being in the ring with he provides a danger that Casal will face for the first time in his boxing career. The danger of overcoming thoughts of a brutal beating that Casal was the victim of right before one of the biggest fights of his career. A beating that left him with over 200 stitches in the back of his head and a lingering feeling that his professional boxing career was over.
It was May 12, of 2012 when Casal’s life was nearly taken from him. He was signed on to face Ruslan Provodnikov on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights. Casal was just beginning training camp for what would be the biggest fight of his career. Coming off of four wins, including a 3rd KO over the undefeated Michael Anderson, Casal was ready to take his career to the next level. He would never get the oppurtunity to face Provodnikov. That night Casal was assaulted by Michael Vicki. Vicki attacked Casal with an object that was never actually identified by police but it was considered to be some sort of golf club, bat, or another hard object. Casal was sent to the hospital where he was treated in surgery. He was forced to pull out of his fight against Provodnikov and instead fight for the chance to get back into the ring again someday.
Provodnikov went on to defeat Casal’s replacement, Jose Reynoso, in two rounds. The fight lead to a showdown against Timothy Bradley that won the 2013 Fight of the Year. While Provodnikov lost the fight to Bradley, he won tons of fans and went on to defeat Mike Alvarado in another HBO Main Event fight capping off the best year of his boxing career and grossing in close to one million dollars for both fights. Provodnikov has exploded into the limelight and HBO loves him. Casal, and his father trainer Ray Casal, just shake their heads at the thought.
“That could have been us.” Trainer Ray Casal said. “I’m happy for Provodnikov. He’s earned it. But if we would have beaten him that could have been us against Bradley.” The painful thoughts of what could have been will always be a question in both of their minds. What Vicki did, who pleaded guilty to the charge and was sentenced to five years in prison, perhaps ruined Casal’s chance to get a shot at the championship. However, everything happens for a reason, and Casal is content with starting slow to get back to the big fights. Casal’s return to the ring is a start in the right direction.
“I want to fight three or four times this year,” said Nick Casal, who just turned 28 years old in December. “Just around here, local shows. Right now it’s about getting back into it and seeing how I feel. Right now I feel great. I don’t think it’s going to be a problem. The doctors did a bunch of tests and I’m cleared to go. I’m excited about fighting in my hometown.”
As for Casal’s father he’s ready to see his son back in the ring. “Doctors say that he’s fine to fight again. As a father I’m a little worried about the injury but as a trainer I know he’s ready to go. One fight at a time. That’s how we are going to take it. Obviously I want to see him fight the best guys and get back to that elite level. We want to get to guys like Danny Garcia and Ruslan Provodnikov. I’d love a shot at Danny Garcia. Nick’s an exciting fighter to watch and fighting guys like that would be great for us and for them. But one fight at a time right now.”
Casal’s opponent after being two years off and suffering a life threatening injury is Shahka Moore. Moore holds a record of 11-19-3. While his record doesn’t seem great he’s a veteran fighter that has been around. It’s a perfect fight to get back into it for someone that was told there was a chance he would never step in the ring again. Casal isn’t taking Moore lightly. Moore’s last fight was a unanimous decision loss to veteran Vivian Harris. He didn’t lay down for Harris, and he’s not going to for Casal either. Casal wouldn’t have it any other way.
“We want someone that is going to test him right off the bat. Moore is a perfect opponent to see where we stand, what we need to work on, and to test Nick after everything that’s happened. We’re going to beat him. I’m confident of that.”
If Casal can get three to four fights this year and everything goes according to plan then 2015 may not be looking so bad for him. Both Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank have tons of big named fighters in the junior welterweight and welterweight division. Casal’s always been an exciting fighter to watch with knockout power to go with it. Those are the type of fighters that not only get title shots but have the ability to upset the top guys. Being that Casal fights in the 140-147 range, the quality of opponents are endless. His story is a good sell to any television network. Right now though, his focus is getting back into the swing of things. It starts this Thursday night.