By Francisco Salazar
Bantamweight contender Antonio Nieves suffered his first defeat as a pro Friday night, losing a close split decision to Nikolai Potapov at the MGM Grand Detroit in Detroit, Michigan.
Nieves, who drops to 17-1-2, with 9 KOs, believed he did more than enough to earn the decision on all three judges' scorecards.
The consensus on social media and those watching the fight on ringside on Friday night was that Nieves should have got the nod.
"A level playing field is all that me and my team would ever ask for," said Nieves in an email to BoxingScene.com. "This is a heavy price, especially being this could've been very easily prevented."
"Nieves was certainly the aggressor throughout the vast majority of the rounds," said trainer Joe Delguyd. "Antonio threw more punches and he landed more. Antonio landed 59 body punches to Potapov's 14."
Nieves, who resides in Cleveland and is a banker, is ranked number five by the World Boxing Organization (WBO), while Potapov is ranked number nine. Friday's bout was announced as an eliminator to face WBO titleholder Nikolai Potapov.
Tim VanNewhouse, who co-managed Nieves with David McWater, will appeal to the WBO.
"We can't change the outcome of the fight," Van New House told BoxingScene.com. "Going forward, our priority is to retain our number five ranking with the WBO. I notified our WBO president (Francisco 'Paco' Valcarcel) on Saturday morning and respectfully asked for the committee to review this matter."
"Sadly, fairness wasn't in mind during the process of assigning our judges. There was an Ohio judge who actually made the trip and worked two out of the four (Showtime) televised bouts. However, he wasn't assigned to work our fight."
Francisco A. Salazar has written for BoxingScene.com since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper, RingTV, and Knockout Nation. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing