LAS VEGAS – Thanks to the intervention of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Diego Chaves has obtained his work visa and has been cleared to travel to the U.S., enabling him to fight Brandon Rios on Saturday at the Cosmopolitan.
The fight was in jeopardy because the U.S. state department's computer system that processes travel documents crashed, creating havoc for travelers around the world.
Chaves, who lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, passed an FBI clearance earlier this week, but like thousands of travelers looking to come to the U.S., the computer crash was creating issues for him.
Top Rank chairman Bob Arum is a longtime friend of Reid's, the Senate majority leader and one of the most powerful men in the U.S. Reid, a longtime boxing fan, got involved and with his assistance, Chaves' visa was expedited. Chaves was headed to the embassy in Buenos Aires to pick up the visa and then head to the airport.
Arum was uncertain of his travel plans but said Chaves would be in the U.S. by Thursday at the latest.
"When we became aware of this, we immediately called Sen. Reid's office," Arum said. "Christina Martinez from his office is assigned to these type of problems and she really worked hard. She got the State Department to cut through everything and got the visa issued.
"This is absolutely great news because this is going to be one tremendous fight, but it also goes to show how Reid is hands-on. I really commend him. Without him, it never would have been possible."
Reid's work to get the fight made was probably a little bit of a thank you for Arum's efforts in helping him get re-elected in 2010. Reid was engaged in a extremely close battle with Sharron Angle. Only several days before the election, Arum flew popular Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao to Las Vegas to hold a campaign rally for Reid. Pacquiao's help reportedly played a big role in Reid's narrow win.
The bout will be Rios' first since a loss to Pacquiao in Macau, China, last year and following a suspension for the use of performance-enhancing drugs.
Chaves is 23-1 with 19 knockouts, with his only defeat coming to the highly regarded Keith Thurman last year in a tremendous bout in San Antonio.
The broadcast, a split-site triple header, will begin at 9:45 p.m. ET on HBO. Two fights will emanate from Las Vegas: Jessie Vargas will make the first defense of his WBA super lightweight title in the opener against Anton Novikov, then Rios-Chaves will be the main event. In between, HBO will broadcast the Sergey Kovalev-Blake Caparello bout for the WBO light heavyweight title.
For HBO, Jim Lampley, Andre Ward and Harold Lederman will call the action in Las Vegas. Max Kellerman, Roy Jones Jr., and Steve Weisfeld will handle the Kovalev-Caparello bout.
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