England’s Kell ‘Special K’ Brook (35-0) puts his undefeated record on the line against Argentina’s Diego Gabriel Chaves next month.
Kell Brook vs Diego Chaves
The ‘0’ is something close to Brook’s heart, as he plans on surpassing Floyd Mayweather’s 49-0 tally before he hangs up his gloves. Not only that, but his IBF world title is also up for grabs too.
The Sheffield boxer is favored as they enter the contest, but those writing Chaves off obviously have very little knowledge of the South American.
Ranked in the world top ten, Chaves’ 23-2-1 record includes one DQ loss to Brandon Rios, and the only other blip at the hands of world number three Keith Thurman who is, like Brook, unbeaten with 26 victories. In his last outing he battled to a draw with Tim Bradley (32-1-1), whose only defeat was to Manny Pacquiao.
This resume makes him an extremely formidable opponent for anybody in the division, and his excellent 83% KO rate further cements that notion.
In order to pass this test and stake his claim to being the world number one, Brook must be at the top of his game physically and strategically.
Now that the pair is set to face off on October 24th, how does he stack up against the hard-hitting Argentinian? Let’s take a look.
Brook, who is signed with Matchroom Boxing, is lean and solid in terms of weight, but at 5’9″ also has the range and 69″ reach to go with it.
At 5’7″ Chaves gives up some height and around three inches of reach, though this isn’t necessarily to the detriment of his style.
Both of these fighters enter the ring with a sizeable percentage of their previous opponents having been stopped inside the distance. Brook has stopped 24 of 35 of his opponents, whilst Chaves has stopped 19 of 23. You can safely say that both have the capacity to end this one early.
The impressive thing about Brook is how he’s actually improved his finishing as the level has increased, where most boxers go the opposite way.
In his first 10 bouts he stopped just four against journeyman opposition. However, now competing at the elite level, he has six stoppages in his last seven bouts. He has matured physically and with regards to his skillset, and this has meant heavier hands.
We have seen Brook knock opponents down with jabs. He has power in both hands, which is certainly an attribute he now brings to the table.
He’s looking sharp in the gym, and as focused as ever.
Chaves has genuine concussive power with more clean KOs than Brook to his credit. He has been consistent with his finishes throughout his career and not a great deal has changed.
With planted feet and bad intentions, it’s his commitment to each and every punch that allows him to let rip with such ferocity.
Former opponent Tim Bradley sent warning messages to Brook about this, saying he “should be very wary” of the power of Chaves.
Brook has a hurtful left hook and a piston-like right hand that is always accurate. Chavez chops in a punishing short right and aims to decimate livers with a wicked left hook to the body. These are the power tools of choice.
This is where things really get interesting and where the strategic choices will come into play. Similar to any cerebral competitor, he knows to make the right choices at the right time. Even when under pressure like in a high stakes game of blackjack, he will know when to Split, Double Down and Surrender.
Brook can quite comfortably split by using equally good assets in order to maximize his chances of winning. He has the aggressive, come-forward mode that he can employ when he’s got the mark of his opponent, but he also has a more laidback, accurate counterpunching style too.
On top of this, he’s a great puncher from either stance and he can split his attack to keep his opponents guessing. It’s a real confidence booster to know you’ve got two face cards on the table – Brook’s style presents no real weak card.
Chaves is much more limited in this respect. He has his style and that’s it; “rough and tough” as Brook put it. He hits hard, gets on the inside and does damage from in the pocket. If Brook finds himself in trouble there, you’d think he’d utilize the option of changing his strategy to stay ahead.
This is where his sensible surrender can come into play. Instead of going against Chaves’ strong hand and fighting close, he can tactically maneuver to the outside where he’ll have the luxury of the reach advantage and faster hands.
As with any athlete, backing down can be a dent to the ego, but it needs to be played a lot smarter. Like the blackjack whiz, surrendering now can mean you limit your losses before coming back on top.
When Brook finds his range and his rhythm, he’s hard to keep up with. Recently, Ionut Dan and Frankie Gavin found that out, but also Shawn Porter in their IBF welterweight title fight.
Things were close in the early running but then Brook got stronger and stronger, dominating the home stretch to take the title. This was where his double down was played; he found his pace and comfort zone, and then backed himself even more to assert it.
Brook grew in confidence and his performance reflected this; he believed he could be the champion and then achieved it.
Looking at the respective repertoires of both boxers, you’d have to favor Brook as the more well-rounded of the two, and the smarter strategist.
Occasionally though, brawns beats brains and simply ploughing through your opponent’s shots to play aggressively right in the danger zone can reap rewards. At this level it can also lead to a beating from a technician, but that’s always a risk Chaves is willing to take.
Taking the blackjack table mentality of competing with clear thoughts and not emotion will benefit Brook, if his mind is strong enough.
Both men have shared the ring with elite level adversaries. Thurman, Rios and Bradley can be found on Chaves’ slate, whilst Brook has faced Porter, Senchenko and Gavin.
Chaves can say he’s had the toughest amongst them, but he hasn’t been able to beat any of them.
Brook had comfortably stopped Senchenko (a former WBA world champion) and Gavin. He never looked out of place against Porter when he won the IBF belt, instead winning more comfortably than the majority decision suggests.
They have enough experience between them now to make this a very worthwhile matchup for the world championship, with the winner being put into a commanding position on the world stage.
Brook still thinks a win could give him the chance to face a recently retired Floyd Mayweather, though domestic rival Amir Khan also looks likely for a huge money showdown in 2016.
All this can only happen with a win next month, and Diego Chaves would like his own say in the matter.
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