West Ham star to cheer on Kell Brook’s rival

West Ham United's Mauro Zarate will be  roorting for his pal at Sheffield Arena

West Ham United's Mauro Zarate will be roorting for his pal at Sheffield Arena

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West Ham United star Mauro Zárate will have more on his mind than a high-pressure match against London rivals Chelsea a week tomorrow.

As soon as the game is over, he hopes to be making his way to Sheffield Arena hoping to cheer on his Argentine countryman Diego Cháves against Kell Brook.

Kell Brook - pride of Sheffield

Kell Brook - pride of Sheffield

Cháves in fact, could have turned out to be a footballer himself.

While his father, grandfather and uncle were boxers, the young Cháves who was a promising footballer before injury ended his chances of making it big. He had been close to making the first team for Vélez Sarsfield, a Premier Division club in Buenos Aires.

Zárate, a year younger and now 28, was a friend of his during this time and has said he wants to be in Sheffield to support him.

After turning professional at boxing in 2008, Cháves built up a reputation as a knockout artist before he had to overcome adversity against Omar Gabriel Weis, a former opponent of Zab Judah, who knocked him down in the sixth round.

Cháves rallied to win a decision and the WBO Latino title at welterweight. From there he continued his ascent.

“After my football career finished I never thought I’d get to the level that I am now at,” he said.

For Cháves there is no doubt in his mind that the number one goal is to win the Sheffield IBF world champion’s title.

But there is an added incentive, too. “Above all it’s important to win the world title but for an Argentine to win in England would be huge because of the rivalry.

To beat a guy like Kell Brook would be normal because he hasn’t fought the level of competition that I have fought. It’s a good opportunity and I can’t waste it. To beat an Englishman in England would be very important.”

Two years ago, Cháves was stopped in the tenth round of a brawl with Keith Thurman in Texas. And he was disqualified against Brandon Rios in 2014.

He said: “Thurman he caught me with a low shot but for a while there he didn’t know where to find me. I couldn’t recover from the low shot. With Ríos I had a really good performance. We were three or four points up on the scorecards but they disqualified me. It was silly. He was hitting me behind the neck and pushing my head down but the referee didn’t say anything. It was a robbery. I showed that I was superior in the ring.”