Keeping It In The Family: Father And Son World Champs

Tom Dunstan

In the history of the sport, the DNA of a fighter is often passed down to the next generation. Growing up in a household where fighting pays the bills, boxing and the fortunes it can offer simply become the family business.

But, although the likes of legendary fighters George Foreman and Joe Frazier would see their sons enjoy a sliver of their own personal success, it’s rare to find a second generation fighter who would join them as a world champion. In recent years, we have seen Conor Benn and Chris Eubank (honorable mention included) continue to build their family legacy, but for now, only a handful of boxing duos can lay claim to the title of father and son world champions:

Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. & Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

Chavez Sr. and Chavez Jr. find themselves as the most recent father and son duo to join the thoroughbred list of stars. Aside from the Mayweathers, it’s likely there is no father and son duo who are more lucrative than the Chavez clan.

The eldest Chavez is still fondly regarded as Mexico’s greatest warrior, with a career spanning over a quarter of a century, Chavez Sr. was a six-time world champion across three separate weight classes and ended his legacy with a staggering record of 107-6-2 (86 KOs).

With a father adored by a nation, Jr. had some dauntingly big shoes to fill. Electing to carry on the family name, Jr. joined the professional ranks after only two amateur fights.

Despite the lack of experience, the genetics were clear to see. Although Jr. might not have the cult following his father once had, after a 47-fight unbeaten streak, he would go onto win the WBC middleweight crown in 2011.

Leon Spinks & Cory Spinks

Arguably the least respected duo on the list, but the most accomplished of the six pairs on the list. Leon and Cory Spinks are the only father-son partnership to have both won the lineal titles.

Leon Spinks’ spent his career creating history and fighting as the underdog, an Olympic gold medalist who shocked the world when he defeated the one and only Muhammad Ali after only 18 professional contests and became the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. 5 days later, his son Leon was born and he was destined for one thing. After a successful amateur career himself that included winning a Golden Gloves title, ‘The Next Generation’ turned pro in 1997.

8 years later and after upsetting Ricardo Mayorga in 2004, Cory could also call himself a lineal champion as he captured the WBA, WBC, IBF belts.

After a failed attempt to go one step further and capture the middleweight titles, Spinks the junior retired in 2013 with a record of 39-8-0.

Floyd Patterson & Tracy Harris Patterson

Granted, they might not be biologically related, but Floyd Patterson and his adopted son Tracy became the first duo to win world titles hand in hand.

After an illustrious career as the two-time heavyweight champion of the world, at the age of 21, Floyd became the youngest champion in history, he was also the first man to achieve that feat after winning Olympic gold. But, even after such a famed career, he had not yet crossed paths with his future son until Floyd opened a gym that was dedicated to helping save young boys who, like himself, had grown up less fortunate.

Tracy would be one of the attendees seeking refuge in the boxing gym and in 1979 Tracy Harris was legally adopted by Floyd. Growing up in the Patterson household, a young Tracy immediately picked up his new father’s peek-a-boo style.

Despite a rocky relationship out of the ring, Tracy aka Caesar went also become a two weight world champion, holding belts at both super-bantamweight and also super-featherweight.

Guty Espadas Sr. & Guty Espadas Jr.

For all the people who may not legitimise the Patterson’s claim to being the first father son combination to hold world title honors, Guty Sr. and Guty Jr. are the first blood-related team.

As for the more senior Guty, he spent the majority of his 13-year career gaining the reputation as a brutally powerful flyweight. In 1976, Espadas Sr. captured the WBA version of the world title and defended it in convincing fashion by knocking out his next 4 opponents.

As for his son, Guty Jr. would go on to break the record books almost two decades after his father announced himself as world champion. In 2000, Guty had his chance to replicate his father’s achievements as he won the vacant WBC featherweight title over Luisito Espinoza.

Wilfredo Vazquez Sr. & Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.

The last names to make the prestigious list are the Puerto Rican father and son act of Wilfredo Vazquez Sr. and Jr.

Despite a string of five-star matches against a list of hall of fame names, Vazquez Sr. has often been seen as one of the more underrated fighters in boxing’s lighter divisions. Beginning his career as an 18-year-old with no previous experience, he claimed he wanted to win a world title like his father’s hero, Wilfredo Gomez, and he did exactly that.

After retiring in 2002, Vazquez Sr. finished his career with quite the resume; a three weight world champion and once upon a time the lineal featherweight champion, ‘The Pride of Puerto Rico’ fought in no less than 14 world champions.

Along with his own individual ambitions, Sr. helped coach and mold his son into a fellow world champion. After fighting for nearly a decade, Jr. enjoyed a taste of his father’s success, even if it was just a taste. In 2010 ‘WV2’ claimed the WBO super-bantamweight title but he would only hold the title for 11 months before dropping the belt.

Honourable mention: Chris Eubank and Chris Eubank Jr.

I know, I know, the IBO title isn’t a legitimate world title and maybe the Eubanks haven’t quite earned the right to add their name to the list. But, we here at CLICKON believe that the whacky duo deserves an honorable mention.

To say that the Eubanks divide opinion would be a huge understatement. Some fans adore the calculated and structured approach and others loathe their pre-fight antics and cocky nature.

What can’t be doubted though, is that the Eubank gene certainly knows how to produce a fighter. Eubank Sr. will always be remembered as not only one of boxing’s greatest characters, but also one of British boxing’s best fighters. Over 13 years in the ring, the self-proclaimed ‘Simply the Best’ was a two weight world champion and stands as the third greatest super-middleweight in British boxing history.

Although he swore that he would never see his son enter a ring like his father, here we are, two decades on, and Jr. is all grown up and currently holds the IBO super-middleweight crown. ‘Next Gen’ is currently ranked in the top ten across all boxing ranking boards and his arrival in the inaugural World Boxing Super Series make it seem like only a matter of time before the Eubanks fully stamp their name on the list of father and son champions.

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