Antonio Nieves: ‘Oscar Mojica is nothing extraordinary’
About a year ago, undefeated bantamweight Antonio Nieves learned a very valuable lesson after his eight-round bout against Stephon Young: Finish what you started.
Nieves fought to a draw against Young but it felt like a loss for the Cleveland, Ohio resident. Nieves was in control until the final rounds of the fight. Both were unbeaten but, in the end, the fight proved to be a decent measuring stick between the two prospects.
While he left the ring dejected and mad at himself, on that June night last year in Oakland, California, the draw served as a motivational tool. Nieves vowed never to lose again, hoping for a big money fight later this year or in 2017.
Nieves will fight Oscar Mojica Saturday night at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The 10-round bout will top a “World Fighting Championships” card.
Since the draw against Young, Nieves has won three in a row, stopping his last two opponents.
The Young bout served as a solid lesson for Nieves (15-0-1, 8 knockouts).
“Going the distance against a southpaw was more a big learning experience for me,” Nieves told RingTV over the phone earlier this week. “I didn’t close the fight the way I should’ve. I have to finish the fight strong. I knew I was winning the fight in the earlier rounds but I have a draw. I learn and move on.”
Nieves faces a fighter with a modest record in Oscar Mojica (9-1, 1 KO), who defeated unbeaten Johnny Determan in his last fight last January.
“I don’t know too much about my opponent (for Saturday),” said Nieves, who was a former kickboxer before switching to boxing. “He’s a decent fighter. He throws a lot of punches. He’s not super-strong or super-quick. He squares up a lot and he’s there to be hit. He’s nothing extraordinary.”
After a decent amateur career, Nieves is much more comfortable fighting as a pro. He claims his style is made for fighting in the pro ranks and not in a system in which it’s about accumulating points.
“I love fighting as a pro. I’m able to sit down on my punches.”
Welterweight contender Shawn Porter has represented Cleveland in recent years in high publicity fights (he was born in nearby Akron) and, as a pro, Nieves would love to give his hometown more buzz in the pro ranks. The 29-year-old is inspired to, one day, headline a major card there and believes it could become a reality, as long as he continues winning.
“It would mean a lot to me. The city has given me a lot. To put the city more on the boxing map would mean a lot. I just want to be successful.”
While his full-attention is on Mojica, Nieves admits he will be keeping tabs on the Juan Carlos Payano-Rau’shee Warren bantamweight title rematch, which is happening the same evening in Chicago.
Nieves wants to fight the winner and believes he could hold more than his own against either fighter.
“As soon as I get this win, I want to fight the winner between Warren and Payano. I’m willing to fight either one of them. I feel like I’m ready. I don’t see anything that I can’t handle. Or I can fight another unbeaten prospect. No disrespect to them but I don’t see them super-better than me.”
Nieves is counting down the time when that could happen but he has a tall order in front of him in Mojica. A win could allow him to face the top fighters at 118 pounds.
“I want to fight the best. I believe in myself and what I’m capable of achieving.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper, BoxingScene.com and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.
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