(Diego Chaves, left, Brandon Rios, right; via @hboboxing)
Referee Vic Drakulich got all up in the business of Brandon Rios and Diego Chaves Saturday night on HBO, deducting points from both men, then ultimately disqualifying Chaves in a bunk call.
It was, to be fair, a fight with plenty of fouls. Chaves held a lot. Rios head butted a lot. There was some punching on the break, some rabbit punching, there was a rake of the forearm across Rios’ face. Some of it was deliberate fouling. Drakulich, despite his point deductions, couldn’t gain control of the fight.
Chaves often landed the harder single shots in rounds, but when he didn’t, Rios was controlling the action. It usually was about range — when Chaves was outside, he would land big right hands, while Rios was better inside with uppercuts and body shots. That probably explains why Chaves held as much as he did, even after getting a point deducted — too early, I’d argue — in the 3rd. Then, Rios got a point deducted for throwing Chaves down in the 5th, although it wasn’t much of a throw.
Rios was getting very agitated, to the point that a “bite fight” threatened to break out. It didn’t, though. Chaves was deducted another point in the 8th, this one of the most justified of the penalties — Chaves, on the break, put his forearm into Rios’ face and pushed. In the 9th, when Chaves clinched again, Rios yelled at him, calling him a “motherfucker,” and this, somehow, inspired Drakulich to rule a DQ. Basically, Rios being pissed inspired Drakulich to say, “enough.”
Rios claimed after Chaves was thumbing him in the eye in headlocks. We couldn’t see anything like that in the replay and might not have been able to see it at all. If it was happening, Rios’ anger was justified, but Drakulich couldn’t have seen it, either. He just got carried away, and as one of the sport’s worst big-fight refs, it was a typical performance.
Chaves was winning on two scorecards the time of the stoppage, 75-74, with another going 75-74 for Rios. The scores sound fine. It’s a shame we didn’t get to see it go another round and get a ruling from the judges, rather than the ref. It’s true that there was a lot of holding from Chaves, but not so much that he should’ve been DQ’d, in my opinion.
It was expected to be a hard outing for Rios, to take on a hard-punching welterweight like Chaves, and it was. The jury’s still out on whether he can become a contender at 147, I’d say. He now owns one pasting by Manny Pacquiao and one controversial DQ win at welter.
[UPDATE: The video below does indeed point to Chaves trying to damage Rios’ eye, so Rios’ complaints are justified. Chaves was foolish to keep doing things like this with the threat of a DQ hanging over him. If Drakulich had seen this, the DQ becomes more justified. But he doesn’t seem to react to it. He only issued the DQ after Rios yelled at Chaves.]