Photos: Will Hart
By Kieran Mulvaney
After 20 broadcasts in locales as varied as Montreal, San Antonio, London and Macau, HBO’s 2014 boxing year ends in the self-styled fight capital of the world, with a card at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas that is headlined by two boxers coming off very different defeats.
For Tim Bradley, that defeat – the first official one of his career – took place in April across the street at the MGM Grand against Manny Pacquiao, and in a strange way granted him something of a release from the purgatory in which he had found himself after being awarded a borderline larcenous decision against Pacquiao two years previously.
Chaves suffered his defeat more recently, in August, and more controversially, by way of disqualification from a contest with Brandon Rios that had begun as a high-intensity brawl but rapidly devolved into a theater of the absurd that would have been more appropriately promoted by Vince McMahon than Bob Arum.
The combatants also come across as entirely different in personality and tone. Chaves appears taciturn and serious, all business as he seeks to avoid his third loss on American soil. Bradley, as ever, has beamed his way through fight week, garrulous and outgoing, enjoying the comparatively low-key atmosphere after headlining two consecutive pay-per-views (against Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez) and girding himself for a rough, tough battle of the sort that Chaves always brings.
But both have displayed the unique bond that exists between professional prizefighters, shaking hands and exchanging pleasantries at Thursday’s press conference and Friday’s weigh-in, and also at a public workout at the Top Rank gym on Wednesday, when Bradley arrived before Chaves had left, made a beeline straight for his opponent, and promptly posed for selfies.
That cordiality will end when the two men step into the ring on Saturday night; although both will be hoping for a somewhat less acrimonious outing than Chaves’ tussle with Rios, neither man can afford to give any quarter. The immediate future for both will be far from set in stone, whatever the outcome, but the one certainty is that becoming the last winner on HBO Boxing in 2014 all but guarantees a place in the schedule in 2015.
Timothy Bradley Jr.: 145.8 lbs.
Diego Chaves: 146.5 lbs.
Matt Korobov: 159.4 lbs.
Andy Lee: 159.8 lbs.
Mauricio Herrera: 139.5 lbs.
Jose Benavidez: 138.5 lbs.