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Holding or clinching might be a new trend developing out of Argentina.

Argentina’s Diego Chaves started out impressively against Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios but after a few rounds changed tactics and switched to a less fan friendly system of hit and hold. Eventually he graduated to more outrageous tactics and was disqualified.

Rios and fans were unsatisfied by the whole affair and Chaves stood there with a dumbfounded look after referee Vic Drakulich stopped the fight. But the referee should have stopped it after Chaves grabbed Rios head and reverse tumbled the Oxnard fighter to the mat.

It was a maneuver taken out of WWE.

A week earlier in a female world title fight, WBO female bantamweight titlist Carolina Duer used the same “hit and hold” tactics for 10 rounds against Venezuela’s Ana Lozano to win by unanimous decision. The fight took place in Argentina and Duer was never warned for hitting and holding.

Clinching or holding has been used for decades. Under the boxing rules it’s not accepted but referees rarely give warnings. Last Saturday, Drakulich should have warned the Argentine early but seemed uninterested.

Prizefighting lures fans because its entertainment. How many boxing fans are entertained by fighters who hit and hold?

Very few, if any.

Rios, the former lightweight world champion, seemed frustrated and angry that few blows were exchanged. He’s the kind of guy that gets happy when getting hit or doing the hitting. Either way it brings a smile to his face. There was no smile on him Saturday in Las Vegas.

A couple of years ago, in a similar type fight, Richar Abril used the same hit and hold tactic. Very few fans were pleased and no rematch was granted. Fans want to be entertained.

After the fight on Saturday, the word “rematch” was tossed around.

Aside from Chaves’s people and supporters, who really wants to see that clinch fest again?

The key to keeping fights entertaining is for referees to enforce the rules against holding excessively.

Saul “Neno” Rodriguez

With only 15 pro fights the 21-year-old junior lightweight from Riverside stole the spotlight from the headliners at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas.

“My fight was the only one that ended in a knockout with the guy on the floor,” Rodriguez said.

A second round clobbering of Puerto Rico’s seemingly larger Orlando Vazquez that resulted in a lights out knockout steered interest away on Saturday. After the entire card was over British TV commentators spent time talking about Rodriguez’s performance though the fight was not televised anywhere. They showed the entire second round on Box Nation and discussed it at length.

Physically Rodriguez is unimposing but the lanky 130-pounder has crackling power inside those gloves. The brutal knockout of Vazquez that saw the Puerto Rican crumble in sections really caught the attention of fans and British experts. It was Rodriguez’s 11th KO in 15 fights.

Rodriguez trains under Eduardo Garcia, the father of Robert Garcia and WBO junior lightweight titlist Mikey Garcia. When training in Riverside the eldest Garcia works on “Neno’s” defense. For his recent fight he sparred with Mikey Garcia.

“You can’t get better sparring than Mikey. I learn a lot from him,” said Rodriguez who splits training locations between Riverside and Oxnard. “My defense is getting better and better.”

Ironically, both Garcia and Rodriguez are blazing in the same weight division for the moment. Garcia is expected to move up in weight and Rodriguez may move up in a few years. They train together daily whether in Riverside or in Oxnard. The pound for pound fighter serves as Rodriguez’s mentor.

“I’m learning a lot off Mikey,” said Rodriguez.


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