Martinez Dominates Until Chavez Nearly Repeats Father’s History

 by Kieran Mulvaney

 Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., Sergio Martinez - Photo Credit: Will Hart

LAS VEGAS – After eleven rounds of the WBC middleweight title fight between Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez, one overwhelming thought came to mind:

“Hey, remember last year, when we thought that Martinez was way too skilled for Chavez? And then we changed our minds and decided that Chavez was good enough after all? We were right the first time.”

Going into the twelfth and final round, the only way Chavez could possibly stave off defeat was to do what his father had done 22 years previously – when, hopelessly behind on points, he had rallied in the final frame to drop and stop Meldrick Taylor with just two seconds on the clock.

But there was no reason to believe the younger Chavez would be able to do such a thing, no evidence that he possessed his famous father’s fighting spirit after all. For eleven rounds he had meekly and cluelessly followed Martinez around the ring, as the Argentine had rattled southpaw right jabs and straight left hands off his young face.

He wouldn’t be able to emulate his father. He didn’t have a miracle in him.

And then, suddenly, he nearly did.

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Chavez Jr.: Already The Greatest Son of a Legend Ever?

by Eric Raskin

Julio Cesar Chavez, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

A son of a great boxer can inherit his dad’s jab. He can inherit the old man’s left hook to the liver. He can inherit his hand speed, his athleticism, his punching power. What he typically can’t inherit is his hunger.

To be a great fighter requires a willingness to absorb physical punishment and overcome it. Kids raised in a comfortable, middle-class-or-better environment just don’t have the mental makeup -- usually -- to persevere in the prize ring.

That’s what makes it all the more remarkable that Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. now stands on the precipice of great things. And that’s also what makes it possible for Chavez to already be recognized as the greatest son of a truly great fighter, ever.

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. is arguably the finest fighter Mexico has ever known, a Hall of Famer who won titles in three divisions, sat atop the pound-for-pound lists, and ended his career with 107 victories in 115 bouts.

Junior will never catch up to the accomplishments of “The Lion of Culiacan.” But he has probably already surpassed all the other sons of legendary fighters who tried to follow in their fathers’ footsteps.

Marvis Frazier, son of Joe Frazier, had a decent career, but he got crushed twice at the top level. Marcel Cerdan Jr. showed some promise but never quite panned out. Same for Hector Camacho Jr. (whose dad may or may not deserve the “great” label anyway). Others like Roberto Duran Jr., Ronald Hearns, and Aaron Pryor Jr. never got past clubfighter status.

There are certainly a few sons of pro boxers who exceeded the accomplishments (thus far) of Chavez Jr. -- it’s just that their dads can’t be categorized as true greats. Cory Spinks won the world welterweight title, but his dad Leon, despite upsetting Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight title, was mostly a disappointment as a pro. Guty Espadas Jr. repeated his father’s feat by winning a title, but neither of the Espadas men will be more than a footnote in the annals of history. Floyd Mayweather is on his way to going down as one of the greatest ever to lace on gloves, but his dad was merely a talented fringe contender.

If there is a son of a truly great fighter who still stands above Chavez Jr., it’s Tracy Harris Patterson. However, Tracy was adopted at age 13 by former heavyweight champ Floyd Patterson, so they aren’t blood relation. Debate amongst yourselves whether the Pattersons should be included in this discussion.

In any case, if you change the categorization from son of a great fighter to child of a great fighter, Chavez Jr. does get some stiff competition from Laila Ali. The daughter of the most famous fighter who ever lived shocked the naysayers by becoming arguably the top women’s pro boxer in history. You could make a case that her career accomplishments -- even if the competition was somewhat limited -- go beyond those of Chavez Jr.

For now, anyway. If Chavez dethrones Sergio Martinez on Saturday night, it’s safe to say Ali is no longer the greatest.

The Fighters Who Follow in the Fathers' Footsteps

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Chris FarinaOn February 4, HBO's boxing year begins with a bang when World Championship Boxing is live from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. The double-header features two sons of famous boxing fathers: In the main event, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., son of the namesake Hall-of-Famer, defends a middleweight belt against Marco Antonio Rubio; and, preceding that, another child of the ring, junior featherweight Wilfredo Vasquez Jr., takes on the daunting task of pound-for-pounder Nonito Donaire.

Here's a look at those father-son pairings, and a select few other famous boxing family pairings:

Julio Cesar Chavez/Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: The father was a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, a world champion at 130, 135, and 140 pounds, and a participant in epic battles including an enthralling, last-gasp victory against Meldrick Taylor in 1990. Junior, still only 25, has been brought along slowly, but has shown improvement in recent fights under the tutelage of trainer Freddie Roach. Rubio is widely considered his toughest opponent so far.

Wilfredo Vasquez/Wilfredo Vasquez Jr.: Another three-weight world champion, the elder Puerto Rican fighter held titles between 118 and 126 pounds for the best part of nine years between 1987 and 1996. Wilfredo Jr. won a 122-lbs. title in 2010 and made two successful defenses before losing to Jorge Arce in a fight-of-the-year candidate last May.

Floyd Mayweather/Floyd Mayweather Jr.: “Big Floyd” was a welterweight contender in the 1970s and '80s, who lost to future champs Sugar Ray Leonard and Marlon Starling. His frequently-estranged son is perhaps the finest boxer of his generation, a titleholder in five weight divisions, and one of the few modern fighters to transcend the sport and cross over into mainstream public awareness.

Leon Spinks/Cory Spinks: Leon shocked the world in 1978 when he defeated Muhammad Ali to win the world heavyweight championship. Ali reversed the decision in a rematch, and after a three-round stoppage by Larry Holmes, Spinks never fought for the heavyweight crown again. He finished his career with 26 wins and 17 losses. His son Cory is a stylish boxer who has held titles at welterweight and junior middleweight, but has fought just once a year, going 2-2, since falling short in a 2007 challenge of then-middleweight champ Jermain Taylor.

Joe Frazier/Marvis Frazier: Smokin' Joe was one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time, losing only to fellow greats Ali and George Foreman. His son, Marvis, lost only twice in a 21-fight career, but they were emphatic, one-round knockouts to Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson.

Muhammad Ali/Laila Ali: 'The Greatest' was reportedly less than thrilled when his daughter elected to follow in his fistic footsteps. But “She Bee Stingin'” went undefeated in a 24-fight career that included an extension of the Ali-Frazier rivalry when she outpointed Joe's daughter Jacqui in 2001.

The Best Modern Fights at 140 Pounds

Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Will HartLamont Peterson’s win over Amir Khan last Saturday was an exciting fight tinged with controversy, making it the latest big bout in the 140-pound division to provide plenty of thrills and plenty to chew over in the aftermath.  Here’s a short list of some of the division’s other modern classics:

Aaron Pryor TKO14 Alexis Arguello

Orange Bowl, Miami, Florida. November 12, 1982

In a fight so good that it was later dubbed the Fight of the Decade, unbeaten Pryor defended his WBA 140-pound belt against lightweight champ Arguello. The two men threw a combined 238 punches in the first round alone, and each took turns to be on top. Arguello was behind on two of the three scorecards after 13, but appeared to have momentum; in between rounds, Pryor trainer Panama Lewis told his cutman to “Give me the bottle, the one I mixed.” What was in that bottle has never been determined conclusively, but the next round Pryor launched a furious attack that stopped Arguello for the win. Ten months later, Pryor stopped Arguello again, this time in 10.

Julio Cesar Chavez TKO12 Meldrick Taylor

Las Vegas Hilton, Las Vegas, Nevada. March 17, 1990

Both men were undefeated and each held a 140-pound belt when they clashed in Sin City. Taylor took the early points lead, tattooing Chavez with punches and outlanding him with his blinding hand speed. But Chavez was landing with more authority; if Taylor was winning the battle, Chavez was winning the war. In the waning moments of the final round, Chavez, trailing on the scorecards, knocked Taylor down heavily. The American made it his feet, but was unresponsive to referee Richard Steele’s commands, and Steele waved it off with two seconds remaining.

Kostya Tszyu TKO2 Zab Judah

MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada. November 3 2001

This marks another meeting between rival beltholders, and another one that ended in drama. In the first round, Judah’s superior hand speed threatened to overwhelm Tszyu, but in the second, the Russian’s firepower started to catch up to the flashy American. Near the end of the round, Tszyu landed a right hand that knocked Judah down. Judah stood up, looked at referee Jay Nady, then staggered forward and sideways and hit the canvas again, prompting Nady to call a halt. A furious Judah attacked Nady and threw a corner stool across the ring, earning him a fine and a license revocation from the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

Marcos Maidana TKO6 Victor Ortiz

Staples Center, Los Angeles, California. June 27 2009

This was intended as a showcase for the hard-hitting, fast-rising Ortiz, and it appeared that would be the case when the American knocked down Argentina’s Maidana with a flurry of powerful punches midway through the first. But Maidana rose to his feet and promptly flattened the onrushing Ortiz with a powerful right hand. Ortiz survived and, in round 2, knocked down Maidana twice more. But Maidana kept coming, closing Ortiz’s left eye and overwhelming him with pressure. Ortiz stumbled to the canvas in the sixth in the face of a Maidana onslaught, prompting the referee to step in – a decision to which Ortiz acquiesced too easily for the taste of some fans.

Are there any fights would you add to this list? What fights in the 140-pound division would you like to see come together in 2012? Answer in the comments below.