Being the son of a famous father can be both a blessing and a burden, but maybe more of the latter for second-generation fighters who follow in their daddies’ very large footsteps. Case in point: Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who, in his 13½ years of plying the family trade, has been given the benefit of every doubt because of his regal bloodline, yet continues to be widely viewed with skepticism because of the long, inescapable shadow cast by his Hall of Fame pop, whose accomplishments were such that he was adoringly nicknamed “JC Superstar” and El Gran Campeon (“The Great Champion”) by his many fans.
Julio Cesar Chavez Sr., now 54, is the most celebrated fighter ever to come out of his boxing-crazed country of Mexico. From 1980 to 2005 he compiled a 107-6-2 record with 86 victories inside the distance, winning six world titles in three weight divisions and setting records by participating in 31 championship bouts with 27 successful defenses. He went 89-0-1 in his first 90 pro bouts, and set another record, for largest attendance for a boxing match, when 132,274 spectators filled Mexico City’s Estadio Azteca on Feb. 20, 1993, to see him batter Greg Haugen into submission in five rounds.
Even should the 31-year-old Chavez Jr. (50-2-1, 32 KOs) get lucky– he’s an opening-line 7-to-1 underdog — and land a big shot to take out Canelo Alvarez (48-1-1, 34 KOs) on May 6 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, the non-title victory (set for a catch weight of 164½ pounds) might not endear him as much as he might wish to the rabid Mexican fan base that so worshipped JCC Sr. Alvarez is the current darling of most Mexican fight fans, more a successor to the elder Chavez than his kid could ever hope to be, and an upset win by Junior would only serve to torpedo the much-anticipated matchup of Canelo and Gennady Golovkin in September, which Alvarez’s promoter, Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya, said is “100 percent guaranteed,” provided his fighter gets past the celebrity son and Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs), the WBC/IBF/IBO middleweight champion, survives his March 18 unification showdown with WBA titlist Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) at Madison Square Garden.
Chavez Jr. is a former world champion, having claimed the WBC middleweight title on June 4, 2011, when he dethroned Germany’s Sebastian Zbik, who was handed the belt when Sergio Martinez was stripped by the Mexico City-based organization for reasons that still remain somewhat unclear. Junior – who has a history of problems making weight as well as dealing with banned substances – made successful defenses against Peter Manfredo Jr., Marco Antonio Rubio and Andy Lee, but he was on the wrong end of a serious beatdown against Martinez on Sept. 15, 2012, when he scored a late knockdown in the 12th and final round. A buzzed Martinez survived until the final bell and won going away on the scorecards by margins of 118-109 (twice) and 117-110.
Can Junior do unto Alvarez what he nearly was able to do in the closing moments against Martinez? It isn’t out of the question; Junior of late has been campaigning as a light heavyweight, and Canelo never has weighed in at more than 155 pounds, although he held (and relinquished) the WBC middleweight championship. Junior could come in as high as 180 against Alvarez, and his size advantage should not be discounted, nor should his desire to gain respect on his own terms.
“This fight is to show that I’m better than Canelo,” Junior said. “Canelo thinks he’s one of the greatest, but, no, I am.”
If there is a hint as to the confidence level Senior has in his son, it’s that JC Superstar got Junior to back off on his heat-of-the-moment pledge to make the Alvarez fight a winner-take-all affair. “I do not agree with the bet,” Senior said. “This fight is about pride and honor. Betting (your entire purse) is not a good idea.”
We shall see if Junior’s faith in himself is justified. But history would seem to be working against him. In boxing – in most sports, really – fathers (and sometimes brothers) who bear the stamp of greatness raise the bar so high that their kinfolk seldom come close to clearing it. Take baseball, for instance: brothers Hank and Tommie Aaron hold the major league record for most home runs hit by siblings. Hank had 755, Tommie 13. And so it is in the ring. Consider this list of fighting fathers/brothers who climbed higher and faster than relatives who discovered that shared DNA doesn’t guarantee similar levels of success:
Joe Frazier and Marvis Frazier
Smokin’ Joe (32-4-1, 27 KOs) won the “Fight of the Century,” scoring a unanimous decision over Muhammad Ali on March 8, 1971, in the first of their three classic matchups, and the lethal left hooker from Philadelphia is on many experts’ top 10 list of all-time heavyweight champions. The gentlemanly Marvis (19-2, 8 KOs) was good enough to be considered a heavyweight contender for a time, but he was trained by his dad to fight in the same bombs-away Frazier style, which proved disastrous in first-round stoppages against Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes.
Muhammad Ali and Rahman Ali
He called himself the “Greatest of All Time,” and Muhammad Ali (56-5, 32 KOs) just might have been worthy of such a designation. He was, at the very least, the Hank Aaron of boxing. Younger brother Rahman (14-3-1, 7 KOs) was a closer parallel to Tommie Aaron.
Aaron Pryor and Aaron Pryor Jr.
“The Hawk” (39-1, 35 KOs), who was 60 when he died on Oct. 9 of last year, is widely considered the greatest 140-pound fighter of all time. His son and namesake, 38, is a super middleweight who is 0-3-1 in his last four ring appearances to drop his record to 19-10-2 with eight wins inside the distance.
Hector “Macho” Camacho and Hector Camacho Jr.
A slick southpaw who was posthumously inducted into the International Boxing Hall in 2016, the elder Camacho (79-6-3, 38 KOs) was a three-division world champion with dazzling hand speed, nimble footwork and a flamboyant style. Hector Jr. (58-6-1, 32 KOs), also a lefty, is a 38-year-old veteran who bears his father’s name but doesn’t come close to having the same elite game, never having fought for a world title.
Salvador Sanchez and Salvador Sanchez II
Were it not for the 1982 car crash that ended his life and career at 23 years of age, Salvador Sanchez (44-1-1, 32 KOs), the reigning WBC featherweight champion, might have become the greatest 126-pound fighter of all time. Some would argue he is still in that conversation. Salvador II (30-7-3, 18 KOs) is still active, but is on a three-bout losing streak.
Thomas Hearns and Ronald Hearns
Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns (61-5-1, 48 KOs), a 2012 inductee into the IBHOF, had a devastating overhand right and reigned in five weight classes. His son, Ronald (28-6, 22 KOs) wasn’t exactly a chip off the old block, but he did manage a shot at WBA super middleweight champ Felix Sturm in 2011, losing on a fifth-round stoppage.
Marvelous Marvin Hagler and Robbie Sims
With his shaved head and menacing scowl, Hagler (62-3-2, 52 KOs) was one of the most-feared middleweights ever to step inside the ropes, and with good reason, appearing in 15 world title bouts and going 13-1-1, the only smudges being a controversial draw in his first bout with Vito Antuofermo and the similarly disputed split-decision loss to Sugar Ray Leonard. Half-brother Robbie Sims (38-10-2, 26 KOs) was no slouch, but lost both of his bids at a version of the 160-pound crown.
Wilfredo Vasquez and Wilfredo Vasquez Jr.
One of Puerto Rico’s most honored fighters, Wilfredo Sr. (56-9-2, 41 KOs) was a three-division world champion whose son, Wilfredo Jr. (24-7-1, 19 KOs), also made some noise, if not quite as much as his father, in winning the WBO super bantamweight title.
Chris Eubank and Chris Eubank Jr.
Chris Sr. (45-5-2, 23 KOs) – whose nickname was “Simply the Best” — was 16-0-2 in super middleweight title bouts until the Englishman was outpointed by Steve Collins in 1995. Chris Jr. (25-3-1, 13 KOs) has yet to fight for a world championship, but he is still only 27 and rated No. 7 by the WBC in his dad’s former weight class, so the window of opportunity presumably is still open.
George Foreman and George “Monk” Foreman III
In both phases of his Hall of Fame career, Big George (76-5, 68 KOs) was a devastating force of nature, twice winning the heavyweight title – the second time at 45 years of age. George III (16-0, 15 KOs) had a good thing going against second- and third-tier opponents, but, at 35 and not having fought since 2012, it would seem he’s thrown his last punch as a pro.
Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel.