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Being Julio Cesar Chavez Sr.’s Son is a Blessing, But also a Burden

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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.

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In a One-Sided Beatdown, Batyr Jukembayev TKOs Shopworn Ivan Redkach

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In a One-Sided Beatdown, Batyr Jukembayev TKOs Shopworn Ivan Redkach

The noted trainer Brian “BoMac” McIntyre had two fighters on tonight’s ProBox card in Plant City, Florida, and brought along the ace of his stable, Terence Crawford, to provide moral support.

The main event, contested at 140 pounds, had an Eastern European flavor pitting Kazakhstan’s Batyr Jukembayev against LA-based Ukrainian Ivan Redkach. Jukembayev, Crawford’s stablemate, needed no moral support as Redkach fought a survivor’s fight for as long as it lasted. A 33-year-old southpaw, the Kazkh won every second of the fight until the mismatch was halted at the 2:18 mark of round five.

It was the fifth straight win for Jukembayev (23-1, 17 KOs) whose only defeat was inflicted by Subriel Matias, the current holder of the IBF world title at 140. Redkach (24-7-1) was stopped for the fourth time including a fight with Regis Prograis where he succumbed to a phantom low blow. Now 38 years old, he should not be allowed to fight again. His showing tonight bore stark evidence that he is completely shot.

Co-Feature

In the co-feature, a 10-round junior lightweight affair, Jonhatan Cardoso, a 25-year-old Brazilian, advanced to 17-1 (15) with a split decision over LA’s Adam “Bluenose” Lopez. This figured to be a fan-friendly fight and didn’t disappoint. Both fighters threw punches in bunches although Lopez’s workrate declined in the late rounds.

Lopez, now 17-6-1, is better than his record. His first five losses came against opponents who were collectively 109-6 at the time that he fought them. The son of the late Hector Lopez, an Olympic silver medalist for Mexico and a three-time world title challenger, “Bluenose” doesn’t have a signature win, but has a signature moment. He knocked Oscar Valdez down hard in their first of two meetings, a fight he took on 1-day notice when Valdez’s original opponent was scratched after coming in 11 pounds overweight. As a pro he has limitations, but is a high-octane fighter who rarely has a bad fight.

Two of the judges favored Cardoso. Their tallies were 99-91 and 96-94. The dissenter favored Lopez 97-93. The scores were all over the map, but the right guy wn.

Also

In the TV opener, Omaha-bred junior welterweight Charles Harris Jr scored a unanimous 6-round decision over Oceanside, California’s Kyle Erwin. The judges had it 58-56 and 59-55 twice.

A protégé of “BoMac,” Harris Jr., who began his pro career in Mexico at age 16, improved to 9-1 (7). It was the second pro loss for Erwin (7-2) whose lone prior defeat was the result of a cut.

In an unrelated matter, today (May 22) was the day that Ryan Garcia’s B-sample would be opened and analyzed. So we were all led to believe.

Confoundingly, it appears that opening the urine specimen and testing the contents aren’t performed on the same day. Dan Rafael enlightened us. “Will take a few days for results but certainly possible it could stretch into early next week due to weekend and holiday,” Rafael tweeted today on his Fight Freaks Unite platform.

Why wasn’t this made known beforehand so that fight journalists could plan their day accordingly? I place the blame on the New York State Athletic Commission.

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Oleksandr Usyk from a Historical Perspective 

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Oleksandr Usyk flipped the heavyweight division onto its head this past Saturday night in the Kingdom Arena, Riyadh, travelling a long way from home to seal his greatest victory. Usyk, small by modern heavyweight standards, towers over most men at 6’3″ and 220lbs and sporting a reach that lineal champions Ezzard Charles or Joe Walcott would have killed for. Things have changed though, and in the middle rounds of his war with Tyson Fury, Usyk suddenly appeared tiny. Fury, a giant at around 6’8” and over 260lbs seems a heavyweight for this century. Usyk, a journeyman in the most ancient sense of the word, feels like a throwback to a more savage time. His greatest achievements have taken place on foreign soil. The last time he boxed at home was almost a decade ago and given the situation in Ukraine and given Usyk’s 37 years, it is unlikely he will ever box there again.

Usyk took chances in the seventh and especially the eighth to take charge of a fight that seemed to be slipping away from him. In the vertigo inducing ninth, it was he, not Fury who appeared the giant. Usyk draped the Englishman over the ropes like so much fresh meat and tenderised him to within an inch of unconsciousness, the sheer hugeness of Fury perhaps preventing a referee’s intervention on behalf of his opponent, and not for the first time. Against both Deontay Wilder (the first fight) and Otto Wallin, a more squeamish official would have stepped in and stopped the fight, and here, too, there was a case. If Usyk seems a throwback, then Fury has been refereed like one, spared stoppages likely to be inflicted upon his peers, he was allowed once again to continue boxing, as Joe Louis was against Max Schmeling, or Jack Dempsey was against Luis Pirpo. But with Fury buckled at the knees, Usyk seemed the true heavy man in the ring.

In historical terms, Usyk is not a small heavyweight. He would have dwarfed “The Galveston Giant” Jack Johnson in the ring and loomed large over “Big” George Foreman. Usyk has every attribute necessary to make an unpleasant evening for Joe Louis, but it should be noted that while his footwork and speed and technical excellence would be the source of the discomfort, his excess of height and reach are the wildcards. Usyk would seem two to three weight classes bigger than Rocky Marciano, mainly because he is, and the towering Sonny Liston would look up. Circus strongman Jess Willard and the mob-sponsored Primo Carnera would both look down on Usyk – but not by that much. Usyk would stand eye to eye with Muhammad Ali but prime-for-prime he would outweigh him by ten pounds, as he would Larry Holmes. We must skip Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield and reach all the way into the Lennox Lewis era before we find men from history that truly out-size Usyk on a consistent basis.

Size, as Usyk has proven, is far from everything. Big by historical standards, he is small by modern standards. What else is now true in the wake of the seismic fistic events of Saturday night? Firstly, Usyk is unquestionably ranked the #1 heavyweight in the world. Of this, there can be no dispute. Accounting for his two wonderful defeats of another “super” heavyweight, Anthony Joshua, he is 3-0 against the rest of the top five and sitting unassailably at the head of the heavyweight table. More, and I have been surprised to see it disputed in some corners, Usyk is now almost as equally unassailably the pound-for-pound number one. The only fighter breathing the same air as Usyk right now is Naoya Inoue. Inoue has been operating at or near the highest level for longer, but the level of his opposition has not been as rarefied. Comparing the first phase opposition defeated by Naoya to the murderer’s row of cruiserweights that Usyk ran into during the Super Six series can lead to only one conclusion. Although Naoya’s busy, weight-class-bursting style has topped him out for most of the past two to three years, only one of these men has consistently been beating bigger, taller, longer opposition at the highest level, and that is Usyk. It is not a matter of opinion – he is the smallest man in my heavyweight top ten.

01 – Oleksandr Usyk

02 – Anthony Joshua

03 – Joseph Parker

04 – Tyson Fury

05 – Filip Hrgovic

06 – Zhilei Zhang

07 – Agit Kabayel

08 – Daneil Dubois

09 – Martin Bakole

10 – Joe Joyce

Usyk lives among giants now and where there is parity of height (Kabayel) he is the lighter man by 15 pounds. This is not true of Naoya, who despite his weight-hopping, still manages to run into fighters of the same height and of shorter reach. The opposition argument is narrow, but the relative size opposition is not and there is no pound-for-pound credential more significant than that of consistently out-fighting bigger men. Usyk has done so and will continue to do so for as long as he fights. There is simply no smaller man in his class.

Not since the heyday of Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield has a lineal heavyweight champion consistently fought bigger men and not since Mike’s hype-infused prime has a heavyweight menaced the number one pound-for-pound spot. Usyk has not enjoyed anything like the same machine support as Mike did; indeed, he has laboured in the shadow of more prominent men until such time as he thrashed them. He is a true manifestation of pound-for-pound glory in the unlimited class. Where does this leave him in terms of all-time standing?

I am reluctant to rate active fighters for reasons that are obvious enough; Usyk could be pole-axed in three by an irate Fury in a December rematch and all this ink is for naught. But what I am willing to do is play let’s pretend and imagine Usyk as retired and consider his place in heavyweight history now.

Usyk’s raw numbers are low-grade at just 22-0 with 14 knockouts. Worse, most of this was built in the cruiserweight division and not the heavyweight division. Against men weighing in as heavyweights, Uysk is essentially 7-0, and only 3-0 against ranked opposition. On the other hand, one of these victories came against Daniel Dubois, now ranked, and the 3-0 was posted against Tyson Fury, generally held to be the best or second-best heavyweight in the world, and Anthony Joshua, ranked behind only Fury at the time of his first fight with Usyk. So, when he stepped up, he stepped up to tackle the best in the world and has become lineal as a result. It’s a hard ledger to wrestle with, but fortunately we have a career that is comparable in the shape of Gene Tunney.

Tunney, a career light-heavyweight, earned a heavyweight legacy built of essentially one man: Jack Dempsey. Past-prime and inactive, Dempsey was ripped apart by Tunney in their legendary first fight and did better in a losing effort against the genius “Fighting Marine” in a rematch, much like Joshua did against Usyk. Tunney then boxed the limited but game Tom Heeney and retired. The rest of his heavyweight career was spent beating great middleweights like Harry Greb and limited losing-streak gatekeepers like Charley Weinert and Martin Burke. One thing that must be noted is that Tunney is matching men who are smaller than Usyk’s cruiserweight opposition to his heavyweight credit. Men like Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev would have been big men in Tunney’s era, but they aren’t counted towards heavyweight legacy for the Ukrainian – either would constitute Tunney’s second-best heavyweight scalp, I think. Tunney’s wider resume does not necessarily include fighters who compare that favourably even to Dereck Chisora or Chaz Witherspoon, the men who make up Usyk’s second layer of opposition.

The point is, Tunney was made a legend for defeating a champion. Both Fury and Joshua were active, physically enormous fighters that Usyk simply unmanned with a type of genius Gene Tunney would have stood to applaud. Tunney appended to his light-heavyweight career the important part of a heavyweight career – the part where you fight and beat the champion, and it has made him a stalwart of heavyweight history. This, Usyk too has achieved, but I have been more impressed with Usyk’s summit than Tunney’s. To be direct: Usyk should rate higher at heavyweight than Tunney.

What that means is that the top twenty at heavyweight is the minimum Usyk can expect from history’s eye should he retire undefeated. In such a case, I would place Usyk in this sort of company:

18 – Ezzard Charles

19 – Oleksandr Usyk

20 – Jersey Joe Walcott

21 – James J Corbett

22 – Peter Jackson

23 – Ken Norton

24 – Max Schmeling

25 – Vitali Klitschko

26 – Riddick Bowe

27 – Gene Tunney

Also illustrative of a point is Tunney’s career pre-heavyweight. Tunney, every bit as brilliant as Usyk in the ring (although notably smaller, and successful against notably smaller opposition), laced up his gloves on close to ninety occasions and his level of competition dwarfs that of Usyk. That is no indictment. All it really means is that Usyk isn’t among the thirty greatest fighters ever to have drawn breath, like Tunney is. He can join an enormous and star-studded cast that includes Mike Tyson, Bernard Hopkins and Carlos Monzon in that. I do think, though, that Oleksandr Usyk’s career, were it to end tomorrow, could be readily compared to that of Evander Holyfield and that means that an unbeaten Usyk, lineal cruiserweight and heavyweight champion of the world, current pound-for-pound king, is within spitting distance of a list that captures the fifty greatest fighters in history.

56 – Ruben Olivares

57 – Wilfredo Gomez

58 – Vicente Saldivar

59 – Oleksandr Usyk

60 – Evander Holyfield

61 – Ted Kid Lewis

62 – Lou Ambers

63 – Rocky Marciano

64 – Abe Attell

65 – Manuel Ortiz

A retired Naoya Inoue would join him in the top seventy, I think, and a retired Bud Crawford the top ninety.

Boxing is dead, haven’t you heard?

Photo credit: Mikey Williams / Top Rank

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Another Victory for Ukraine as Berinchyk Upsets Navarrete in San Diego

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Whether it was inspiration or perspiration, Ukraine’s Denys Berinchyk motored past Mexico’s Emanuel Navarrete by split decision to become the WBO lightweight world titlist on Saturday.

Just hours after his fellow countryman Oleksandr Usyk became undisputed heavyweight world champion, Berinchyk joined the club.

“This is a great night for all people of Ukraine,” Berinchyk said.

The undefeated Ukrainian Berinchyk (19-0, 9 KOs) gutted out a win over Navarrete (38-2-1, 31 KOs) who was attempting to join Mexico’s four-division world champion club in San Diego. The lanky fighter known as “Vaquero” fell a little short.

Through all 12 rounds neither fighter was able to dominate and neither was able to score a knockdown. Just when it seemed one fighter gathered enough momentum, the other fighter would rally.

A butt caused a slight cut on Navarrete in the 10th round. That seemed to ignite anger from the Mexican fighter and he powered through the Ukrainian fighter the next two rounds.

In the final round Berinchyk bore down and slugged it out with the Mexican fighter as both relied on their weapons of choice. For most of the night Navarrete scored with long-range uppercuts and Berinchyk scored with overhand rights.

After 12 rounds two judges scored it 115-113, 116-112 for Berinchyk and one 116-112 for Navarrete. Ukraine gained its third world titlist in one a week. Berinchyk joins Usyk and Vasyl Lomachenko as world titlists.

“He’s a very tough guy,” said Berinchyk of Navarrete.

Welterweights

A battle between undefeated welterweights saw Brian Norman (26-0, 20 KOs) knock out Giovany Santillan (32-1, 17 KOs) in the 10th round to become the interim WBO titlist.

For nine rounds both welterweights engaged in brutal inside warfare as each tried to beat the sense out of each other.

Norman worked the body early as Santillan targeted the head. Neither fought more than two inches from each other.

The younger Norman, 23, connected with a right cross during an exchange that wobbled Santillan in the eighth round. From that point on the Georgia fighter began setting up for his power shots. Finally, in the 10th round, uppercuts dropped Santillan twice. In the second knockdown Santillan went down hard as referee Ray Corona stopped the fight immediately at 1:33 of the 10th round.

Other Bouts

Heavyweight Richard Torrez (10-0, 10 KOs) knocked out Brandon Moore (14-1) in the fifth round for a regional title.

Lightweight Alan Garcia (10-0) defeated Wilfredo Flores (10-3-1) by decision after eight.

Photo credit: German Villasenor

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