Fighters with world champion fathers

June, 23, 2010
6/23/10
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Sons of world champions have a lot to live up to when they try to follow in their fathers' footsteps, but that doesn't stop them from trying.

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who meets John Duddy in a 12-round middleweight pay-per-view fight on Saturday, has had considerable TV exposure and remains unbeaten but has yet to convince the skeptics. Perhaps after Saturday night the boxing public will have a better picture of Chavez's potential.

Here's a look at how things have worked out for six other fighters with world champion fathers.



6. Ronald Hearns

Ronald Hearns and Thomas HearnsAP Photo/Paul WarnerRonald Hearns takes after his dad -- in more ways than one.
He has the broad-shouldered physique of the legendary Thomas Hearns and even jabs and throws the right hand in a similar manner to his famous father, but junior middleweight Hearns was brutally exposed when the willing but unexceptional Harry Joe Yorgey knocked him out in the ninth round 15 months ago. A lasting memory of that Showtime-televised bout is of Thomas Hearns on his feet at ringside, imploring his struggling son to keep moving and jabbing. Ronald has since won four bouts, but the way he collapsed against Yorgey, who is not considered a hard hitter, suggests that the younger Hearns, now 31, lacks the durability to do well at boxing's higher levels.

5. James McGirt Jr.

Al Bello/Getty ImagesBuddy McGirt Jr., right, can always count on his father to be in his corner.
Former junior welterweight and welterweight champ James Buddy McGirt, now a top trainer, has always been aware of the difficulties James Jr. faces in his boxing career. "I've told James since he started boxing that he has three strikes against him -- all three strikes are having McGirt as his last name," McGirt said in a 2008 interview. "The fighter and his trainer want to beat James and me. They want to get at me through James. He has a lot to handle in the ring and it's not his fault that his last name is McGirt."

McGirt Sr. was a consummate ring mechanic. The ex-champion's son, a tall southpaw who boxes in the 168-pound division, while nowhere near his father's ability level, has shown respectable boxing skills and a busy-punching style. McGirt soundly defeated the veteran Raymond Joval and looked unfortunate to lose a close decision to the rough and tough Angel Hernandez in ESPN-televised bouts. However, a seventh-round defeat against another son of a champion, Carlos De Leon Jr., was a severe setback. McGirt has won his last three fights, though, and at 27 has time to regain some momentum in his career.

4. Hector Camacho Jr.

Hector Camacho JrPhoto by Al Bello/Getty ImagesNot quite as macho: Hector Camacho Jr. never quite lived up to his father's potential.
A southpaw like his famous father, Hector "Machito" Camacho Jr. was once regarded as a highly promising boxer, one who had talent and speed and could punch hurtfully with the left hand. Camacho's dedication has been in doubt, though, ever since he came in overweight and lost to the determined Argentinian, Omar Weis, in an ESPN-televised bout in March 2002. Not only did Camacho weigh in at 147 pounds for a match made at 143, he also remained stubbornly over the limit at a second weigh-in later in the day. "What sort of message does this tell you about Camacho?" asked a disapproving Teddy Atlas. Camacho, at 31, has gone from junior welterweight prospect to veteran middleweight in the ensuing eight years but he is on an eight-bout winning run and earlier this month he comfortably outscored a local favorite in Guyana.

3. Marvis Frazier

Joe Frazier and Marvis FrazierPhoto by Al Bello/Getty ImagesMaybe Marvis, right, wasn't quite Joe Frazier, but he could still hold his own in the ring.
People tend to remember Marvis Frazier for his first-round defeats against Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson, but the son of Smokin' Joe was a capable boxer who unfortunately was a small and not-very-sturdy heavyweight who obviously lacked his father's firepower and fighting prowess. At the contender level, though, Marvis had some excellent results, defeating title challengers Joe Bugner and James "Quick" Tillis and future champ James "Bonecrusher" Smith as well as ending the unbeaten record of the much bigger James Broad, who had knocked him out in the first round in the amateurs. "This kid is a master," Smokin' Joe said of his son in a March 1983 interview with the Philadelphia Daily News on the eve of the Broad fight. "He can box, he can hit with both hands, he's slick as a pin." Marvis, however, was no match for the much more experienced Larry Holmes in a mismatch in Las Vegas in November 1983. Frazier's 30-second defeat by Mike Tyson in July 1986 ended his hopes of becoming a champion, although he won three more bouts. He retired in 1988 and was ordained as a Pentecostal minister in 1994.

2. Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.

Wilfredo VazquezAP Photo/Itsuo InouyeWilfredo Vazquez Sr. left his son with some big shoes to fill.
Also known as "WV2," the undefeated Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. has been showing the poise and precision of his father, who was a world champion at three weights and one of Puerto Rico's finest fighters. Nobody can be sure how good Vazquez Jr. is, however, until he is seriously tested at the top level. So far, though, so good. Vazquez produced power and educated pressure in junior featherweight championship fights this year, crushing the Filipino southpaw Marvin Sonsona and Hungary's Olympic representative Zsolt Bedak, who were both unbeaten. Although Vazquez has had only 20 professional bouts, with no background in amateur boxing, he shows an impressive maturity in the ring and is believed to have the same type of always-in-the-gym work ethic as Floyd Mayweather Jr.

1. Cory Spinks

Cory SpinksAl Bello/Getty ImagesCory Spinks is a bit of a belt collector, just like his dad, Leon, on the right.
As a welterweight champion and two-time junior middleweight belt holder -- who came within one round of getting a draw in a middleweight title bout with Jermain Taylor -- Cory Spinks has to be considered the most successful son of a former world champion. While his colorful dad, Leon, was an aggressive fighter who reigned briefly as heavyweight champion, Cory has bedeviled opponents with his clever counterpunching style from the southpaw posture. Cory's method is not to everyone's taste, but purists have expressed appreciation, as when Spinks defeated Zab Judah in their all-southpaw match in Las Vegas. "Their skills were three levels above even most world-class fighters," Steve Farhood wrote admiringly in Boxing Monthly. "I never realized watching welterweights consistently missing their punches could be so invigorating." In his last fight, Spinks gave probably his grittiest performance when surviving a first-round knockdown and a cut over the eye to defeat the younger, stronger DeAndre Latimore to reclaim the 154-pound belt.
Graham Houston is the American editor of Boxing Monthly and writes for FightWriter.com.
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