To most knowledgeable fans of the sport today, it’s difficult to draw any meaningful insight from a zero-loss record without knowing the substance of opposition that said record contains. Prior to his July 27 bout of last year, most fans, both knowledgeable and those of a more casual nature, knew little about Argentina’s Diego Chaves as he was set to face rising star Keith Thurman on Showtime’s “Knockout Kings II.”
Many fans faced the unknown in what to expect from his style, let alone how to pronounce his last name. Before his bout with Thurman, Chaves had only fought outside of his native Argentina once before (Edvan Dos Santos Barros in Nevada), therefore fans promptly made one of two assumptions: “I don’t recognize any of these names, so he can’t be good,” or “I’ll decide to infer that his skills/power/mentality are half decent given his knockout ratio, and 0.”
We know a little bit more after the Thurman fight what kind of fighter Chaves is as he heads into Saturday night’s HBO welterweight bout against Brandon Rios.
Rios has developed to the point where many fans in the sport recognize his name, and place him in the category of “always entertaining,” or “action-packed,” et cetera (don’t forget the Richard Abril fight, folks). Not too long ago, Rios also had a 0, but fans had a better understanding of where his ceiling was, and who he could, and could not beat. I believe that Rios’ promoter had also gathered such knowledge, hence his matchup with Manny Pacquiao last year. In a way, Rios was “fed to the dogs” in that bout and it was the result we all saw coming.
Aside from several cases of distasteful mocking, it’s easy to see why fans get behind Rios as a fighter, and as a person. On any reality boxing program he’s featured on, Rios can be seen clowning around and entertaining, and in the ring his viciousness and tenacity can often be felt from the nosebleeds. Chaves’ name has gained a bit of traction in the boxing world after his spirited affair against Thurman, and the same viciousness is displayed in his performances.
For A Rios Win
The cliché “one dimensional” is thrown around quite a bit when Rios’ name is brought up in any technical boxing conversation, and perhaps it does have some recent merit as he failed to show us any willingness to adjust his style when facing Pacquiao. Manny Pacquiao is a fighter who belongs in a category that is above Rios’ aforementioned ceiling, but Chaves may lie beneath it.
In order for Rios to be effective in this fight, he must utilize his overhand right. During exchanges, Diego Chaves utilizes a Philly-shell, or cross-guard defense where his left hand is protecting his body and his right hand is raised to either parry or block the left hook. He rarely ever uses the parrying function of his power hand, and mostly has it firmly placed against the right side of his face to block the left hook. Chaves does move his upper body well, but if Rios is moving forward, and is punching in combinations, this is a punch he can land, and it has proved to be a game-changer in his merited victories; however, if he throws it without calculating, Chaves is able to counter with sharp right hands and left hooks.
For a Chaves win
In a recent media interview Rios did for this fight, he stated that people “say he (Chaves) is a forward fighter, but I see him as more of a skilled fighter” which is an interesting assessment, given that all of the fights that seem to be available on the Internet seem to scream “forward fighter.” Whether this is bad diction, being macho, or ignorance, I know that the Chaves we’ll see on Saturday will be aiming to move forward and fight with Rios.
For Chaves to obtain a victory, the two offensive weapons he should use are his left hook to the body and uppercut to the head. Both fighters will be expected to walk forward during the bout, so we can assume that Rios will adopt his traditional high-guard whilst throwing in combination. If Chaves can plant his feet properly in the pocket, he can get a massive amount of leverage on his left hook to the body. If Rios’ hands are up high, Chaves has an opening for that shot, which can take some gas out of Rios. When Chaves throws this left hook to the body, he often stumbles backwards if he misses, and if he’s not careful, Rios can quickly capture valuable ring real estate from him if he’s off balance. In addition, Chaves can work his uppercut at close range to split Rios’ guard and pop his head up for a left hook.
Saturday’s event will most likely be a brutal affair from start to finish. Both men are going to come forward from the moment the first bell sounds. I see Chaves clocking Rios with some hard shots in the first couple of rounds, but not discouraging him. I expect Rios to do better throughout the mid-portion of the fight landing in higher volume, but Chaves’ body work throughout the fight will pay off, allowing him to be more effective in the later portions. I can see this fight going either way, but for the sake of making a clear prediction, I’m going to go with Chaves in a close and competitive fight. In order for both fighters to be effective, they’re going to have to put themselves in a situation where their style is entertaining for the fans. It’s going to be a good one.