With all the trouble it took to get Diego Chaves (23-1, 19 KO) to Las Vegas for his fight against Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios (31-2-1, 23 KO), the scrap better be as good as most expect it to be.
Up until Wednesday afternoon, Chaves was experiencing issues obtaining a visa to travel from Argentina to the United States for Saturday's bout at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. There was legitimate concern that the 28-year-old Argentine may have to be replaced.
Miraculously, Top Rank promoter Bob Arum was able to use his power and influence to push the process along, and the fight is on. Per ESPN.com's Dan Rafael, Arum said:
We had Harry Reid's office helping us with the consulate in Buenos Aires. The computer couldn't spit out the visa that had already been approved. It wasn't a boxing problem or a problem with Chaves, like the kid did anything wrong or anything. It was a computer problem that is affecting thousands of people waiting for visas. It's costing businesses in the United States a lot of money.
Sen. Reid knows this is an important event for Las Vegas and his office went to bat on it and accomplished a miracle. It shows you how invested he is in Las Vegas and Nevada. Without him and Christina Martinez (Sen. Reid's aide) we would not have a fight.
Now that the technical difficulties are resolved, talk can shift back to what figures to be an entertaining and action-packed bout.
Bleacher Report's Kevin McRae had this assessment of the battle at hand:
"There are a lot of reasons to watch this fight on Saturday night.
"Rios vs. Chaves looks, at least on paper, to be a potential Fight of the Year contender, and there are compelling arguments to be made for why either man could legitimately walk away with the win."
Both Rios and Chaves are sluggers who never shy away from an exchange. Rios was badly outclassed in his last bout against Manny Pacquiao in November 2013. He showed his trademark chin and toughness but simply couldn't land against the new and improved Pacman, who placed an emphasis on movement.
Chaves won his last outing. He scored a TKO over Juan Alberto Godoy in the third round in February but was stopped in an entertaining and competitive scrap with Keith "One Time" Thurman in July 2013.
Based on the two fighters' styles, this should be exciting.
It's also the headliner for a fairly strong HBO broadcast. The card also features the first title defense for WBA junior welterweight champion Jessie Vargas, and WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev will face Blake Caparello from the Revel Resort in Atlantic City.
Here's how you can watch the action.
When: Saturday, August 2 at 9:45 p.m. ET
Where: Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas/Revel Resort in Atlantic City
Live Stream: Box Nation (Subscription Required)
There are fights in a boxer's career that painfully display their ceiling in the sport. That bout came for Rios when he faced Pacquiao.
Rios' lack of speed and defensive deficiencies had never been so clearly exposed. Most in the boxing community knew Bam Bam didn't possess the fastest hands. We also knew he didn't focus a ton on head movement, but when you see an opponent take advantage of these weaknesses, it forces you to put Rios in a box.
He's a one-dimensional slugger who can only have success against someone who stands in front of him and engages in all-out war.
Fortunately for Rios, he may have the right opponent in Chaves. The 28-year-old Argentine won't make Rios chase him. Thus, this is a fight Bam Bam can win—especially if he's in shape.
Rios claims that he hasn't been prepared mentally and physically for his last few fights. Per Dan Ambrose of Boxing News 24, Rios said:
"We went back to old school training. I forgot what it takes to be a champion. This is the first time in a while I’m physically and mentally ready." Not everyone is buying Rios' story.
The former WBA lightweight champion has had conditioning, weight and stamina issues in previous bouts. He failed to make weight for his fight against Richar Abril in 2012 and his fight against John Murray in 2011.
In the second fight with Mike Alvarado, Rios didn't seem to have the energy to finish strong.
His "win" over Abril was another instance where Rios' wind looked less than stellar in the ring. Most believed Abril deserved to win, but Rios got the nod from the judges. The lackluster performance on that night was partially due to conditioning issues, but Rios was also outboxed.
He is not a fighter who goes into a fight with a game plan more sophisticated than a seek-and-destroy mentality.
That said, if Chaves brings the fight to him, he won't need a layered approach. The action could be exciting enough for us to forget everything Rios doesn't do well.
Ready to Battle
Thanks to the work of Senator Harry Reid and members of the consulate in Buenos Aires, Chaves will make it to the United States for his bout with Rios.
Chaves was an unknown when he gave Thurman all he could handle in their bout before being stopped late. He hasn't faced many noteworthy opponents aside from that fight.
Because of Rios' notoriety and the trouble it took Chaves to get into the country, this is the biggest fight of the latter's career. A strong and exciting showing could launch his popularity with American boxing fans.
That will lead to more nationally televised opportunities and bigger paydays.
Because he's only 28, he still has time to make a name and some money for himself in the sport. The biggest part of the journey begins on Saturday when he bangs with Bam Bam.
Who wins Rios-Chaves and how?
This is a tough fight to call. Rios has good-to-great punching power and a remarkable chin. He's a tough out for any fighter who isn't an extremely skilled boxer.
Chaves is a hard-punching, tough fighter who will have a speed advantage over his opponent. This figures to be a brutal and competitive scrap with both men trading power punches and getting the best of their share of exchanges.
Because of each fighter's durability, this fight should go the distance. So who wins?
Let's base the prediction on who will deserve the victory as opposed to who might actually get the decision.
Chaves' speed should allow him to beat Rios to the punch and effectively counterpunch. Rios' face will probably show wear and tear by the seventh round, but he'll do some good work as well with uppercuts.
However, his inability to fire combinations against the quicker and aggressive Chaves will be the story of the fight—at least until the final scorecards are announced.
In the end, Chaves will deserve the decision, but because Rios is the bigger name and fighting in his country, he may steal another win. It wouldn't be the first time Rios has officially won a fight he didn't earn in the ring.
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