The fight must go on! (CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Between managing a busy pre-recess agenda, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., squeezed in some help for a boxer who needed a visa to be able to fight in the United States this weekend.
Reid, a former boxer and avid fan of the sport, saved the day for Argentinian Diego Chaves, set to face off against Brandon Rios as the chief supporting bout of a split-site HBO card with Rios-Chaves headlining the part of the show at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas.
Earlier this week, promoter Top Rank canceled a conference call with the boxing reporters to hype the bout, and news broke about Chaves’ visa troubles. Top Rank’s Bob Arum told Yahoo! on Wednesday, “When we became aware of this, we immediately called Sen. Reid’s office,” he 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.”
Arum, a close friend of Reid’s, is one of the sport’s most colorful figures and one of its most successful promoters for almost 50 years, whose best-known quote is, “Yesterday I was lying, today I’m telling the truth.” (This week he made news for saying he participated in a two-day orgy with Muhammad Ali right after the “Thrilla in Manila” between Ali and Joe Frazier.)
But Arum’s story about Reid’s intervention on behalf of Chaves is true, Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid, told CQ Roll Call Wednesday.
Reid got a visit on the campaign trail during his 2010 re-election battle against Republican Sharron Angle from Top Rank-promoted boxer Manny Pacquiao, who doubles as a congressman in the Philippines and is idolized by Filipinos and Filipino-Americans. Pacquiao has boasted that the campaign appearance essentially won Reid reelection.
Pacquiao beat Rios in his last fight, who’s getting into the ring Saturday with Chaves.
Some of Reid’s other boxing-related adventures over the years include a controversy over ringside tickets, support for a government-funded study on the connection between combat sports and brain injuries, backing an investigation into the scorecards for the Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley fight and calling for a pardon of Jack Johnson.