It had started out as boxing but quickly deteriorated into a street brawl, the kind that would probably have landed the participants in the Clark County Detention Center for the night had the violence not been confined to the ring.
Suffice to say, the Nevada Athletic Commission was none too pleased with the ring decorum of Diego Chaves and Brandon Rios after the two welterweights assaulted each other Saturday night at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. Rios was awarded the win after referee Vic Drakulich disqualified Chaves after Chaves threw an intentional elbow at Rios’ face 1:26 into the ninth round of their scheduled 10-round fight.
Both fighters had points deducted from their scores for holding and pushing. At times, the bout had a professional wrestling feel to it. Rios accused Chaves of trying to gouge his eye while Chaves complained that Rios nailed him with several illegal blows to his back.
“If the fighters aren’t willing to be cooperative, there has to be accountability,” NAC chairman Francisco Aguilar said at the post-fight news conference which Rios didn’t attend because he was at University Medical Center having his eye and collarbone checked out. “That fight was disintegrating and we have an obligation to have control over the ring.”
NAC executive director Bob Bennett said any referee would have had a hard time keeping control and that Drakulich, a 30-year veteran, did the best he could to maintain decorum inside the ropes.
“I thought Vic did the best job he could do,” Bennett said. “He made a concerted effort to take control of the fight.”
Chaves, naturally, didn’t believe he deserved to be DQ’d, saying Rios provoked much of the illegal behavior.
“I knew the fight was over,” the 28-year-old from Argentina said through an interpreter. “I just didn’t know why. He was holding me and hitting me and head-butting me. He should have been the one who was disqualified.”
Drakulich will meet with Bennett today at the NAC’s Las Vegas office to review the tape of the fight. But Aguilar said Drakulich was doing everything he could to enforce the rules.
“I know no fan in boxing who wants the referee to get involved,” he said. “But when you have two fighters who refuse to abide by the rules, the referee has no choice but to impose himself on the fight.
“This was not a boxing match. This was a brawl. Vic was trying to get control of the fight and he was losing control. He did what he felt he needed to do.”
This fight nearly didn’t take place. Chaves was having visa problems and it took an assist by Nevada Sen. Harry Reid’s office to expedite his application so he could make it from Argentina to Las Vegas in time to fight Saturday.
Chaves, who made it to Las Vegas on Thursday morning, was fighting in the United States for only the second time in his 25-fight professional career and he was making his debut in Nevada.
He stood in with Rios from the opening bell, exchanging hard blows, the majority of them legal from both fighters. And when the two combatants decided to stay within the rules, it made for an entertaining fight as both showed skill and strength to score effectively.
But things began to break down in the second round. Chaves had a point deducted in the third round for holding Rios and hitting him while Rios had a point taken from him in the fifth after he threw Chaves to the canvas. In the eighth round Chaves was dinged a second point for holding.
After the eighth round, Drakulich came to Chaves’ corner and warned him that one more major infraction would result in a disqualification. Chaves’ corner barked back at Drakulich, demanding he issue the same edict to Rios’ corner, which he did not do.
And when Chaves threw the elbow at Rios’ face nearly midway through the ninth, Drakulich ended the fight. Chaves was ahead on judges’ Jerry Roth’s and Robert Hoyle’s scorecards by identical 75-74 scores when the fight was stopped. Rios was up 75-74 on Patricia Morse-Jarman’s card.
“I don’t think either corner had respect for the authority in that ring,” Aguilar said. “That is my concern. When he went in there to lay down the law, they were not listening. That fight was disintegrating to a point where it could become dangerous.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913. Follow him on Twitter: @stevecarprj.