Antonio Nieves is banking on a Rau’shee Warren clash
If you live in Ohio and frequent a PNC bank, a guy with a bit of a black eye and a scuff on his brow might well have served you.
Clevelander Antonio Nieves is a 17-0-2 (9 knockouts) bantamweight and, yes, is a world-class prizefighter. But the Clevelander has a nine-to-five as he works toward getting to a place where boxing is his full-time vocation.
“I am a personal banker,” Nieves told me, after a bank shift and a subsequent boxing workout. “I open accounts, process loans, help you refinance, et cetera.”
When not at the bank, he builds a boxing resume, which he’s hoping leads to that obtainable life altering shot in the near term, he hopes. It makes sense to Nieves, who scored a second round stoppage win on Nov. 26 over 10-2-1 Szilvezster Ajtai in Detroit, and his promoter Dmitriy Salita, that the shot at the big time is an all-Ohio showdown.
Nieves, 29, wants a crack at WBA beltholder Rau’shee Warren, who happens to call Cincinnati his hood. “Of course! The goal is to fight the man with the strap. Me and Warren, that would be a good one. What’s not to like of a fight that is two guys from the same state fighting for a world title, two rival cities at that?”
Warren is super-fast and slick. How would Nieves solve that? “That’s something that my team and I have to sit down and come up with the best game plan for a fight like that,” he said. “I am confident that we will come up with an effective one. We fought in the amateurs, I want to say 2008 or 2009. He won but, at that time, he had 100 times more experience than I did and we also fought him in Cincinnati, his hometown. I’m a whole different fighter now. If you haven’t seen me, you will see a well-rounded fighter and great body puncher.
Salita concurs. “I love that this kid wants the tough test. He punches well and I think he slows Warren down and gets to him. Ohio needs this rivalry showdown!”
The 29-year-old Warren (14-1, 4 KOs) last fought in June and took the WBA 118-pound strap from Juan Carlos Payano in a rematch. BoxRec shows him without a set tango, so maybe the timing is right for an all-Bucknut state face-off for bantamweight supremacy.
Me, I think boxing needs to do better at building from the grassroots up. That includes making neighborhood grudge scraps which heighten local interest, often translating into making a clash more anticipated, because heightened emotions lend more gravity to the occasion. Nieves versus Warren makes more than a bit of sense from that standpoint.
Ohio and Michael Woods have a lot in common. Ohio needs Rau’shee Warren vs. Antonio Nieves and Michael Woods needs a cup of Joe and a New York slice. Again, Ohio and Michael Woods have nothing in common.
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