Daws shafted again – loses to Nieto on DQ

6th December 2015

C/O Elliot Worsell/Boxing News: The mark of a good referee is one who goes unnoticed. Yet the performance of Denmark’s Freddy Rafn on December 5 at Carshalton’s Westcroft Leisure Centre, when officiating the European super-lightweight title fight between Lenny Daws and Ruben Nieto, was so noticeable and so inept that regrettably three men have to be reviewed in this report; the winner, the ‘loser’ and the referee.

Madrid’s Nieto, the winner, was narrowly behind on points when his fight with Daws ended via disqualification 56 seconds into the tenth round, and the losers, the real losers, were those in attendance, both English and Spanish, who generated a deafening atmosphere befitting a European title fight and who so dearly wanted to witness both men settle an all-out war on their own terms. Alas, Rafn had other ideas.

In the company of a deplorable third man, Daws and Nieto worked best when simply left alone. Nieto started as though he had no designs on winning a decision on foreign soil, nor any belief he’d get one if it went the distance, while Carshalton’s Daws, accustomed to fighting on low-key slots on undercards up and down the country, suddenly seemed reinvigorated by the sounds and the support of a raucous home crowd, and he too was just as hyper-active in the early going.

The action was frenetic, both were nailed as early as round one, and jabs weren’t used to create space, they were used to close it. Daws’ punching appeared the cleaner and more technical of the two, especially when throwing his counter left hook, which he used to good effect throughout the contest, but Nieto carried a drive and relentlessness that made up for any technical deficiencies. He punched when Daws wanted to rest or move. He forced the pace. He even scored a major breakthrough in round three when he timed a lazy Daws jab and fired a right hand over the top of it. The well-picked shot caught Daws by surprise and dumped him on the canvas for the only knockdown of the fight. In an instant, momentum headed the way of the Spaniard.

Thirty-six-year-old Daws, though, was always going to take some shifting. And so it proved. He rallied back in round four, he cut Nieto in the fifth and, by the time the sixth came around, it seemed he was the fresher of the two, as the once-sprightly Nieto, 32, started to chug and stumble around the ring on weary legs.

It was in round seven, however, when referee Rafn decided to properly introduce himself. First, he issued an inexplicable standing-eight count to Daws when the home favourite took a low blow in a clinch and retreated to a neutral corner, then later in the round he warned Nieto for the same misdemeanour – punching low – before eventually punishing him by docking a point. Not only that, Rafn would frequently slap the boxers’ arms to make them break and, in the closing stages of the seventh, even had the stupidity to yank the super-lightweights apart by grabbing their bloodied, damaged faces. It was a sign of the chaos to come.

By round ten, with both boxers flagging, Rafn well and truly took centre stage. And how. Daws shaped to throw a right hand, thought better of it and then wound up in a tired clinch, grabbed by Nieto’s left arm and pulled into his chest. Unfortunately, such was the momentum created, Daws lurched towards Nieto, together they moved to the ropes, and it was then that a cut along Nieto’s forehead appeared, blood rained down his face, Rafn lost his mind and Daws lost his title chance. The fight was waved off by the ringside doctor and Rafn, rather than deduct a point or two or chalk it up to an accident, decided Daws deliberately head-butted Nieto and thus disqualified him. “I feel gutted,” said Daws. “We’ve both come in, we’ve clashed heads and he’s worse off. He (Rafn) said, ‘You did that intentionally.’ But it wasn’t intentional. I just tucked up and we clashed heads. It’s a funny decision.”

While Rafn’s performance could certainly be described as comical, nobody in Carshalton was left with a smile on their face.

Curious sideways glances were the theme of the undercard, too, as Larry Olubamiwo and Radoslav Mitev both copped innocuous-looking shots in round one versus Hughie Fury and Danny ‘Cassius’ Connor respectively and were unable to continue. Boos rang out. Confusion reigned. The fans wanted action.

Far better, though, was the showing of Nicaragua’s former world super-flyweight title challenger Everth Briceno, who took the classy Andrew Selby the full six rounds and ended the fight on his feet to applause. Briceno had only been stopped once, by current WBA world featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz, in the last eleven years, while Selby, a step or two ahead throughout, bagged a 60-54 points win at the bout’s conclusion and appears in a hurry to make noise; with faith placed in his extensive amateur grounding and his appearances in the World Series of Boxing (WSB), it’s refreshing. Three fights in, so far, too good.

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