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Frank Warren on Sons Following Fathers, Smith, More

By Frank Warren

It is not uncommon for a son to aspire to follow in his father’s footsteps. Indeed, my own sons Francis and George have trailed me into promoting fights.

But it’s uncanny that three of the former world champions who I have promoted presently have sons fighting on my roster.

Last weekend, Steve Collins Jnr – son of the two-weight WBO champion and Irish legend of the same name – drew in his fourth pro fight after fighting with a shoulder injury from the second round at the Copper Box Arena.

Despite being brought up around the fight game, the 23 year old Dubliner was forbidden from donning the gloves as a child and had no amateur experience prior to debuting as a pro last July.

Understandably he’s still a bit raw but he’s inherited plenty of the old man’s fabled toughness and, as a hooker for pro rugby outfit Rosslyn Park, he’s clearly a natural athlete.

Tonight at the York Hall, Bethnal Green, Collins Snr’s old foes son, Christopher Eubank Jnr.,  makes his debut for me in an eight rounder against Alistair Warren. No prizes for guessing his father!

Privately educated at Brighton College, Junior – like his dad - began his amateur career over in the US and won a Nevada State Golden Gloves title under the tutelage of former middleweight great Mike McCallum.

Since transferring to the profession, back in the UK in 2011, the 24 year old middleweight has clocked up a dozen straight wins and ruffled plenty of feathers; mimicking his father’s preening and posturing between the ropes, goading rivals via social media outlets.

Nevertheless, tutored by Ronnie Davies – mentor to his monocled father – young Christopher has bags of natural ability and charisma. A future showdown with reigning British and Commonwealth king Billy Joe Saunders certainly makes commercial sense. Trust me, the pair aren’t on each others Xmas card list!

And in the next few weeks 26 year old Scouse bantamweight Kevin Hodkinson makes his pro bow on one of my promotions. I’ve been hearing good things.

His pops, of course, was Paul ‘Hoko’ Hodkinson, a wonderful little scrapper who captured the WBC featherweight title back in the early 90s, successfully defending it three times.

Prior to the current trinity, I handled the affairs of Ross Minter – son of former undisputed world middleweight boss Alan Minter – and Luke Robinson, eldest offspring of plucky ex WBO featherweight champion Steve Robinson.

Ring history is littered with instances of son’s following their fathers between the ropes albeit with mixed success.

And it’s not only the boys. In the early noughties, Laila Ali, Jacqui Frazier and Freeda Foreman – daughters of Muhammed, Smokin’ Joe and Big George – all punched for pay!

In 1958 Blackpool’s Brian London captured the British heavyweight title that his father Jack had held 14 years before.

Heavyweight Floyd Patterson and his adopted son Tracy Harris Patterson, a super-bantam, both made it to world titles as did another world heavyweight champion Leon Spinks and his welterweight son Cory. Puerto Ricans Wilfredo Vasquez Sr and Jnr also turned the trick down at super-bantam.

On occasion, the offspring has managed to surpass their sire.

US lightweight Lenny ‘Boom Boom’ Mancini was prevented from making a mandatory challenge for the world title after being wounded in World War Two. Redemption came in 1982 when his son Ray captured the WBA strap at the same weight.

Billy ‘Dynamite’ Douglas was a fringe contender at middleweight and light-heavy during the 1970s. His son Buster shook up the world in 1990 when, as a 42-1 underdog, he trounced seemingly invincible world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson.

Four weight world champion Roy Jones Jnr eclipsed his father Roy Sr, a journeyman middleweight who once got stopped by Marvellous Marvin Hagler.

Floyd Mayweather Sr was a top class welter back in the 70s and 80s, and once lasted into round ten with the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard. Floyd Jnr, however, is a five weight world champion and widely regarded as the premier pound-for-pound practitioner in the sport today.

Controversial Aborigine Anthony Mundine is a two-time WBA super-middle king. His father Tony reached his plateau at Commonwealth title level.

Alas, not all match the heady heights of their old fella. The sons of Aaron Pryor, Tommy Hearns, Julio Cesar Chavez and Hector Camacho all dabbled as pros but fell some distance short of the Hall of Fame achievements of their legendary fathers.

If young Steve, Christopher and Kevin get half as far as their paters in the fight game, they’ll have plenty to boast to their own kids about.

***

Try to catch a butcher’s at fast rising super-featherweight prospect Mitchell Smith on BoxNation this evening.

We currently have a very rich band of young talent coming through in the UK but the 21 year old ‘Baby Faced Assassin’ from Harrow Weald still stands out from the pack.

Angel faced but horribly spiteful between the ropes, young Mitch had a difficult upbringing in which he was raised by his father.

He first entered a boxing gym at the tender age of six to learn how to stave off playground bullies. However, he quickly developed into a multiple national junior champion and, suffice to say, his antagonists soon found alternative bait.

After bagging the 2011 ABA featherweight title and a handful of England vests, the then 19 year old vaulted to the pros, cockily bragging that he was already capable of scalping the British champion!

Yet several hard nosed ringside reporters conceded that his third round stoppage of two-weight Scottish champion James Ancliff was the most impressive debut by a British fighter for many years.

Subsequently, Smith has romped to seven straight wins and the Southern Area title, with his swagger, speed and vicious body punching earmarking him for future stardom.
Despite his choir boy appearance, he is yet to be knocked off his feet. Trainer Jason Rowland, a former British and WBU light-welter champion, likens him to a young Ricky Hatton.

Tonight he can expect a stiff test at the York Hall when he squares off against unbeaten Welsh champion Mark Evans over eight rounds. It’s a proper fight but I anticipate young Smith will prove a bit too lively. I believe he’s a special talent.

***

Tuesday is the 50th anniversary of Cassius Clay’s victory over Sonny Liston to win the world heavyweight championship and in New York today the gloves he wore in that historic fight go up for auction.

Clay - before later changing his name to Muhammad Ali - dethroned Liston at the Miami Beach Convention Centre and moments after Liston refused to come out of his corner for the sixth round claiming a shoulder injury, Clay hollered the now famous line: “I shook up the world!”.

The gloves were made by former boxer Sammy Frager, who also sold gloves to heavyweight greats Joe Louis, Max Baer and James J. Braddock, were kept after the fight by Clay’s trainer Angelo Dundee until he sadly passed away in February 2012 and were then sold to a private collector for $385,848 that December.

Whoever the collector is will make a nice return on the investment with the gloves expected to go for at least $500,000.  Although it’s a long way off the $1.1m UFC co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta paid for the gloves Ali wore in his 1965 world title defence against Floyd Patterson at an auction.

***

I’m continually looking to unearth new talent and earlier this week I signed a very promising young man, Tommy Langford, to a promotional deal and I’ve got high hopes for him.

Langford, 24, was a highly decorated amateur and two big scalps that stand out on his C.V are Callum Smith, who later went on to win a Commonwealth Games silver medal, and also World Amateur Championship Bronze medallist Anthony Fowler.

He’s undefeated in the professionals with seven wins and is trained by Tom Chaney in Birmingham who guided Frankie Gavin through the amateurs and in the pro ranks to winning the British and Commonwealth Welterweight titles.

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