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The boxer who would leave everything for football

The boxer who would leave everything for football

Diego «la Joya» Chaves made inferiors in Vélez and knocked on the doors of professionalism. Today, he makes a living from blows. A job and not much else.

-What fight would you choose if you had to mention one?

-Against El Massoudi (in 2012, victory by KO in the second round).

-And what football game?

At last, smile. TO Diego Chaves, the jewel, the memory of a ball makes him travel to places that boxing, his routine, his work, his life, cannot even ask for permission. For the first time, the former interim WBA welterweight champion allows himself to dodge the premeditated and more or less obvious answer. For the first time he wants to develop, to fly.

-If I remember. It was a Vélez-San Lorenzo that we won 5-4, in eighth, in 2002. It had rained, San Lorenzo was leading, we went out to play as we should and won a great game. There was a lot of water on the court and the team played very well.

How your face changes. The boxer suddenly became just a dreamer.

The gym moves around him. The little ones jump the rope and look at him askance. They follow his movements, admire him and are reflected in a mirror of dreams. Teenagers, those who have already stepped into a ring, seem to perceive it with a little more nervousness. As if he were the rival to come in the not too distant future. And the great ones understand it as a direct adversary, like the one to be dethroned.

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Boxing gyms always revolve around a star, a figure who may have a high or low rank but, for that place, is the best of all. Diego Chaves, la Joya, knows that he is the star of the San Miguel gym, his gym. An improvised ring in the center, images of the Virgin Mary in different sectors (a mini statue, a small picture), some bags on one of the walls. As you move through a not-too-neat training session (because rest and action times aren’t fully respected, or concentration levels don’t seem all that high), you interact with everyone. He advises the younger ones. Teens are motivated. He treats the great ones as an equal, he talks to them, he smiles at them, as if they did not represent a threat.

He is 30 years old, he was an interim WBA welterweight champion (World Boxing Association) and faced several rivals of great stature (lost with Keith thurman in 2013, it fell to Brandon Rios in August 2014 and drew against Timothy bradley in December of that same year). Tonight he will face the unknown Luis Zárate, in Quilmes, with the aim of winning to start planning his return to the great planes of boxing.

In October of last year, Chaves had everything ready to fight against the British Kell Brook, current welterweight champion of the International Boxing Federation (FIB), but, due to an alleged injury to the Englishman, the fight was suspended and it was never rescheduled. In the middle, a scandal between the Argentine boxer and his promoter, Osvaldo Rivero. For that sequence, La Joya was unemployed for more than 18 months.

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In that world, the jungle of boxing, Chaves moves with ease. His family breathes based on the blows, the gloves, the bandages and the boots. His father was sparring for Monzón and Galíndez. His brothers were also fighters. His nephews are profiled for the same. He feels so loose that he is not afraid to sentence: “I would trade my entire career for a First Class contract, I have no doubts”.

He was a left back in good technical condition. Neat, orderly, firm on the mark and with tools to go on the attack. “When I was 7 or 8 years old, I was already playing at the Los Toritos club, on the 11 court. At 10 I started in the lower Velez, which I did from ninth to fourth”says Chaves to Goal in his gym in Santa Brigida, in the province of Buenos Aires, an area full of humble houses and overly battered streets. The routine was maintained for several years: training in the morning, school in the afternoon. Then the gym.

In the fourth division, football does not give time: it is signing a contract in the First Division or being promoted to the Reserve. In Vélez, Chaves had none of those options. At 18, the world fell apart. «It was a great pain that the technician told you that he was not going to take you into account. I had to make the decision and my brothers recommended that I continue with boxing. Maybe there was a better one, maybe the coach didn’t like it … He decided to box and today we are in the mecca of boxing ». And he adds: «I was unemployed for three months without making the decision. Then my brother Ariel began to squeeze me. I was depressed, half down … and I made the decision to train boxing again … Doing another sport costs a lot. I would have loved to play football, but it happened that way.

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He still talks to his teammates in the 86 category, Darío Ocampo, Ariel Rojas, Emmanuel Fernandes Francou. He is a fan of Vélez and has several friends on the team. Chaves thinks about boxing, but is excited about soccer. He works with jabs, straights, and hooks, but laughs with passes and shots on target. He is overwhelmed by the idea of ​​the stool that is leaving and leaves it hand in hand with a person who intends to destroy it, he longs for the concept of helping and depending on the rest, of having a group.

-Would you give yourselves a title to see Vélez, champion of the Copa Libertadores again?

-Without a doubt … and if I could play, better …

-And what would you do if Gámez (president of Vélez) called you tomorrow to do a test with the superior team?

-Forget! I leave everything! Forget! (Courtesy

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