It seems rivalry runs in the blood after the son of British fighter Billy Joe Saunders punched American opponent Willie Monroe Jr in the groin at the WBO middleweight title.
Saunder’s eight-year-old son, Stevie, made his way onto the podium as the boxers posed for photographs ahead of the fight in east London on Friday afternoon (local time).
The boy was at first ushered away, but during a face-off of intimidating stares and routine bicep flexing for cameras, Stevie crept up to his father’s opponent.
In a rare moment of tenderness, Monroe Jr ruffled Stevie’s hair before the boy swung a quick punch into the boxer’s groin.
Saunders barely flinched at his son’s behaviour, seemingly approving of the violent gesture, as he continued to smile and flex his biceps for the cameras.
The press gallery audibly groaned in pain for Monroe Jr as his crew and security pulled Stevie away gently, while the boy delivered an air-kick in the direction of the boxer’s groin.
Once the young boy was out of sight, Monroe Jr composed himself and continued to flex his muscles for the cameras.
Saunders later defended his son’s actions in a Twitter post, calling the action ‘self-defence’.
“My son’s been taught when a stranger puts their hands on them (to) punch and run away (in) self-defence,” he tweeted.
— billyjoesaunders (@bjsaunders_) September 15, 2017
Saunders was also quick to see the humour in the incident, re-tweeting a post suggesting his son was more threatening than US boxing champion, Floyd Mayweather.
— Barry Awad (@KidGalahad90) September 15, 2017
It’s not the first time Saunder’s son has captured the world’s attention. The boxer let his son hold the wheel of his four-wheel-drive across a field, which didn’t break any laws as the car was on private land. But Twitter followers warned the WBO middleweight how dangerous it was to let a minor drive a large vehicle.
Monroe Jr seemed to laugh off the latest incident, smiling as the boy continued to point as he was dragged off the stage.
However, the boxer expressed his disappointment following the incident at the weigh-in in a 14-minute video posted on Twitter.
Monroe Jr said he didn’t know at the time it was Billy Joe Saunder’s son or a “random kid” that was being introduced prior to the fight.
“I thought he was a cute kid and patted him on the head, ‘Like, thanks for being here’ and the kid punches me in the nuts, then kicks me in my nuts and lands on my legs” Monroe said.
Saunders and Monroe Jr will fight for the WBO middleweight title on Sunday morning (AEST), with Saunders hoping a win will set him up for a bout against either Gennady Golovkin or Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.