In a battle of undefeated prospects last Saturday, June 20th, Cleveland’s Antonio “Carita” Nieves and St Louis, Mo’s Stephon Young fought to an eight round draw.
The bout was the opening televised fight on BET for the Andre Ward versus Paul Smith main event and was held at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, Ca.
Both fighters had their moments in the fight as Nieves caught Young with a counter right to the chin in the opening round that had Young in survival mode.
“When I hurt him in the first round I was trying to get him out of there but I ran out of time,” Nieves said. “I don’t think hurting him early changed my game plan because we were not looking for the knockout. If it came great, but we weren’t looking for it.”
Young then caught Nieves with a left cross to the chin that made his knees buckle for a brief moment in the third round, but Nieves was able to quickly gather himself and recover.
“I think the shot caught me off guard more than anything,” said Nieves. “It did buzz me, but I wasn’t badly hurt.”
The evenly contested bout went back and forth but Nieves had the lead on two of the judges’ scorecards heading into the eighth and final round.
An accidental head butt caused a cut over the left eye of Nieves in the final round and Young took advantage by being the aggressor and won the round.
“The cut was a medium sized one, but the blood was getting in my eye the last minute of the fight,” explained Nieves. “That’s why I was moving more the last minute of that round.”
Judge Steve Morrow scored the fight for Nieves, 77-75, Judge Kermit Bayless scored the fight for Young, 78-74, while Judge Susan Thomas scored the fight 76-76.
The television commentators also scored the fight, unofficially, with Barry Tompkins scoring it a draw and former featherweight World Champion Kevin Kelley scoring it for Young.
This writer thought a draw was a fair decision, but the judge that gave Young six of the eight rounds should be brought before the California Boxing Commission to explain his scorecard because anyone watching the fight could see it was a lot closer than that.
“I do not agree with the judge’s decision,” Nieves said. “The night of the fight I thought I won and after watching and breaking it down round by round I believe I won five rounds to three. If I could change anything it would be that I would fight to my potential. I had an off night. I didn’t use all the skills I have.”
With the fight being competitive and action packed, a rematch would seem likely but don’t count on one taking place anytime soon.
“There has been no talk of a rematch but I honestly don’t think they want one,” said Nieves.
The five-time Cleveland Golden Glove champion is scheduled to next appear in the ring on September 5th at the Presque Isle Downs in Erie, Pa, a place where he scored a first round knockout earlier this month. He let it be known that he will be ready.
“I feel like I have to work and do the things I already know how to do,” said Nieves. “I didn’t use lots of tools I have in my last fight.”
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