NABO Bantamweight Champion Antonio Nieves, of Cleveland, Ohio and Tijuana’s Alejandro Santiago battled to a 10-round split draw (96-94 Nieves, 96-94 Santiago and 95-95) in the second fight of the ShoBox quadrupleheader.
Nieves, (16-0-2, 8 KOs), remains undefeated, but Santiago’s (11-2-2, 3 KOs) boxing ability clearly caught him off guard. The first five rounds featured brisk long-range boxing that was incredibly even. Santiago, a late-sub for Nikolay Potapov, appeared to pull away in rounds 6-10 as he out-landed Nieves 129-86 overall and 100-61 in power punches.
Winning the late rounds was not enough for Santiago, who was stepping up in weight and opposition. Judge Don Ackerman had Nieves ahead 96-94 while Eric Marlinski had it 96-94 for Santiago. Pasquale Procopio’s 95-95 card proved pivotal. Given Santiago’s second-half surge, the Mexican visitor was unlucky not to get the win.
“I thought it was close, but I think I pulled it out,” said Nieves. “I should have gotten the victory by maybe one or two points. But the judges see what they saw, you know?
“I do not feel I put on the impressive performance I was hoping to. I wasn’t at my best. He (Santiago) was a little awkward and my right hand was hurting a little bit, but I really don’t know why I wasn’t letting my hands go like I usually do.
“I learned I have to stick to my game plan and keep using my jab. I didn’t use it like I usually do. I need to just do what I do and not worry about what my opponent is doing.
“I don’t think nerves had anything to do with it, even though it was the biggest fight of my career. I was just letting him get off first. I should have followed my game plan, rather than react to what he was doing. I give myself a C for my performance tonight.”
Santiago, who came as a late replacement and was clearly the underdog, also felt he won the fight.
“It was close, but I think I won the fight. I was always sure I’d beat him and I did. I landed more punches,” said Santiago. “I thought Nieves would be stronger than he was in there.
“I usually fight at super flyweight. I was coming up in weight to do this. It was an opportunity to open more doors for me and I took it. And I think that’s what I did tonight.”
In the opening bout of the telecast, undefeated welterweight Bakhtiyar Eyubov of Brooklyn, N.Y., by way of Kazakhstan won a close 10-round split decision—that could have gone either way—against veteran Karim Mayfield of San Francisco, Calif. (95-94 twice for Eyubov and 95-94 for Mayfield).
Eyubov (11-0, 10 KOs), who had never been past the third round, was taken to uncharted waters by the more experienced Mayfield (19-4-1, 11 KOs). Mayfield extended Eyubov far longer than any other opponent and despite out-landing the adoptive Brooklynite in each of the final four rounds (110-80 overall and 87-66 power) Eyubov escaped with a split decision. It was a learning victory for Eyubov and a disheartening loss for Mayfield, who averaged 69 punches per round to Eyubov’s 52.
“I felt it was close, but I did everything I wanted to do and I feel I won nearly every round,” said Eyubov. “I was surprised by Mayfield, especially how hard his head is. He is a real man.
“My lip is a little swollen but that’s because of headbutts. Mayfield fought dirty in there. But I’m happy with the decision. I learned that I can go 10 rounds if I have to. I could go 12. I was still strong at the end of the fight.
Mayfield, who was clearly disappointed with the result, felt he won the fight.
“It was a good fight and he’s a tough fighter for sure, but I landed the harder shots and kept active. He was a tough guy, don’t get me wrong, but I certainly won that fight,” said Mayfield. “I feel I performed well. There’s always more work you can do, but for the most part I feel I did good. People thought for some odd reason the fight wouldn’t even go the distance, which is ludicrous. I won the fight though.
“It was part of my game plan to frustrate him and I feel I did that. I executed my plan well. Of course, there was more I could have done. I could have thrown more punches, but I did well.
“They made it seem like he punched like hell, but I guess all punches feel hard to me, so if you’re a hard puncher or a light puncher, it’s still a punch and I don’t want to get punched. I got hit but I was never stunned or anything like that.
“I would love a rematch.”
Eyubov responded, “I don’t know if I would fight him again. I will think about it.”
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August 19 2016