Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Published Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 | 7:45 p.m.
Updated Saturday, Aug. 2, 2014 | 9:45 p.m.
Brandon Rios and Diego Chaves combined to have three points deducted through eight rounds of the 10-round main event Saturday night inside the Chelsea Ballroom at the Cosmopolitan.
The welterweight fight never made it out of the ninth round.
Referee Vic Drakulich stopped the fight at the 1:26 mark of the ninth, awarding Rios the win by disqualification after he was struck by a Chaves forearm to the mouth.
It wasn’t the first time the boxing match resembled a mixed martial arts fight. About 15 seconds into the ninth, the fighters became tangled and fell to the floor, with Rios flipping over near the Chaves corner.
Chaves was deducted a point in the third and eighth rounds for holding. Rios was deducted a point in the fifth for pushing Chaves to the ground.
“Everytime he had me in a headlock, he was grabbing my eye,” Rios said. “He was holding me. What could I do?”
The fighters were clearly frustrated with each other, frequently tangling in the middle of the ring and needing Drakulich to separate them. And at the end of a few rounds, they shouted at each other, loud enough for the profanity to be heard by people close to the ring.
In between the eighth and ninth rounds, Drakulich was having words with Chaves' corner men, who were yelling in disapproval.
After the antics in the ninth, stopping the fight seemed like the lone option.
“What could I do?” Rios keep repeating during his postfight interview with HBO.
Rios was fortunate the fight was called. All three judges scored the fight 75-74 through eight rounds — two for Chaves and one for Rios
Vargas retains light welterweight title
Jessie Vargas’ first title defense felt different than his previous fights.
Being a champion gave the Las Vegas resident a different mentality in the ring. He was confident of his ability and never in doubt of the outcome.
Vargas successfully defended his WBA light welterweight title, taking a 12-round unanimous decision against Anton Novikov.
The Palo Verde High product won by scores of 118-111 on two judges’ cards and 117-111 on the other to remain undefeated with a 25-0 record.
“I didn’t feel in danger in the fight,” Vargas said. “When you are a champion, you fight with a lot more confidence.”
While the action was closely contested with neither fighter dominating for long stretches, the 25-year-old Vargas got the benefit of the doubt from judges in winning a lopsided decision. That’s another benefit of being a champion.
“We controlled the fight,” said Ismael Salas, Vargas’ trainer. “The difference was (Vargas’) right hand to the face. He was landing that cleanly.”
The Sun had the fight even at 76-all after eight rounds, but Vargas was comfortably ahead on the scorecards. The final stats, however, had the fight more closely contested. Vargas landed 191 of 783 punches; Novikov connected on 223 of 812.
Vargas says that is part of the learning curve of being a champion. He feels he could have done more.
“I never thought I was losing. I always thought I was winning,” he said. “But I know I can be a better champion. I need to learn how to finish off the fighter.”
The Russian Novikov, who lost for the first time in 30 career fights, disagreed with the outcome. He thought the scores should have been closer, saying he won seven of 12 rounds.
“I didn’t back down. I brought the action,” he said.
Vargas won the title April 12 with unanimous decision over Khabib Allakhverdiev in a similar back-and-forth fight. He won 115-113 on two scorecards that night. Needless to say, tonight was a great next step in his development.
“We fought an undefeated challenger who had a lot of experience,” Salas said. “It was a good win. And Jessie can be better than what he showed tonight.”