LOS ANGELES – The sport of boxing has a rich history of families achieving pugilistic success as a group, be it fathers and sons, brothers (and occasionally sisters), uncles and nephews, or all of the above. Bloodlines run deep and this theme plays out in “STAR POWER: Mayweather vs. Ortiz”, the September 17 mega-event which will be presented live by HBO Pay-Per-View®. The boxing extravaganza is loaded with these “fighting families,” as five of the eight headlining boxers have made fighting a family affair in one way or another.
The most prominent among them is the Mayweather ménage, with Floyd “Money” Mayweather front and center. Floyd’s uncle, Roger, is his trainer, but Roger was also an excellent boxer in his day, winning titles at 130 and 140 pounds in the ’80s, facing the legendary likes of Julio Cesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker and Kostya Tszyu. Floyd’s father, Floyd Sr., was also in “Little Floyd’s” corner for several years and was a solid welterweight contender in the ’70s and ’80s, notably facing Sugar Ray Leonard in 1978. Then there’s Floyd’s uncle Jeff, who was less accomplished than his two brothers but did face an up-and-coming Oscar de la Hoya in 1993 and has gone on to become a respected trainer himself.
The co-feature brings Erik Morales into focus. Like Floyd Mayweather Jr., Morales is a sure-shot for the Hall of Fame when he retires. Also like Mayweather, he comes from a family that has produced four professional fighters. “El Terrible’s” father, Jose, had a brief career as a flyweight in the ’70s and Erik has two brothers who entered the squared circle as professionals: Diego, who briefly held a super flyweight belt, and little brother Ivan, a currently undefeated bantamweight prospect.
Morales’ opponent, Lucas Matthysse, also comes from a fighting family. The Argentine knockout artist’s older brother, Walter, was a feared welterweight contender who was only taken the distance by one opponent in his 32 pro fights and fought twice on HBO, against Paul Williams in 2006 and Kermit Cintron in 2007.
The featured fight on the STAPLES Center segment of the event also involves two men with familial pride at stake, in Canelo Alvarez and Alfonso Gomez. Canelo has six brothers, but only three currently are competing as professionals, though none are threatening Canelo’s alpha-dog status in the family as Rigoberto, Ricardo and Ramon Alvarez are all older than Canelo and, unlike their younger brother, have tasted defeat. On June 28, 2008, when Canelo defeated Miguel Vazquez, all seven Alvarez brothers fought on the same fight card, calling the historic night “The Alvarez Seven.” If that wasn’t enough to convince you Canelo stands apart from his brothers, then the fact that the other Alvarezes all have dark hair should tell you there’s something special indeed about the carrot-topped, freckled face junior middleweight world champion who will get tested on the upcoming show by the veteran Gomez. Gomez, meanwhile, has no boxing brothers, but when he returns to the corner between rounds, the voice he hears is that of his father, Alfonso Gomez Sr.
Of course, it’s the Mayweathers who take center stage anytime boxing families are discussed, both because they’ve accomplished so much as a group and because their personalities are impossible to ignore. Family legend has it that Floyd Jr. learned to box at the same age he learned to walk. The gym was his second home as far back as he can remember and even in his first home, he was notorious for punching any inanimate object in sight, whether it was meant to be treated like a speedbag or not.
Floyd’s professional success has thrust the Mayweathers into the forefront of any discussion about the greatest families in boxing history. With all due respect to the Hiltons, the Chavezes, the Peñalosas, the Byrds, and any others among the 27 families that have produced multiple world titleholders, the top of the list has to boil down to the Mayweather clan and the Spinks family. Brothers Michael and Leon Spinks were both heavyweight champion of the world and Leon’s son Cory was world welterweight champ. Plus Cory’s brother, Darrell, was a decent club-fighter in St. Louis in the ’90s.
So which is the greatest multi-generational fighting family of all-time? The Mayweather crew or the Spinks clan? It’s hard to say until both legacies are complete, and the Mayweathers certainly have a chance to add to theirs when Floyd takes on Victor Ortiz on September 17.
In fact, five fighting families have a chance to add to their reputations on that night and it’s no accident that the combata