Home Boxing History Puncher from the Past: Marcel Cerdan Jr

Puncher from the Past: Marcel Cerdan Jr

Marcel Cerdan Jr.
Born: 4 December 1943 Casablanca, Morocco
Record: 64 fights, 56 wins (18 by KO/TKO), 5 losses 3 draws.
Turned professional: December 1964
Scored wins over: Fernand Nollet, Robert Gallois, Ted Whitfield, Francois Pavilla, Johnny Cooke, Bruno Meggiolaro
Lost to: Donato Paduano, Pietro Gaspari, Clyde Gray, Robert Gallois
Drew with: Sandro Lopopolo

Cerdan Jr’s story
He was the eldest of three sons born to world champion Marcel Cerdan, arguably the greatest French boxer of all time, who had a 111-4 record with two losses being by disqualification and another he reversed. He lost his middleweight title to Jake LaMotta on 16 June 1949 after injuring his shoulder in the first round before retiring in the ninth. On 27 October 1949 Cerdan was flying back to the USA for a return with LaMotta when his plane crashed in the Azores killing all on board.
Cerdan Jr was only five years old at the time of his father’s death and felt it was his destiny to follow in his father’s footsteps. Because of his father he was under the spotlight all of the time, Even at the age of 15 when he visited New York and had not even laced on gloves the interviews he gave inevitably brought up the subject of whether he would become a boxer. He had his first amateur fight in June 1960 at the age of 16 and after winning 5 fights in 6 months he disappeared from the boxing scene and did his national service in the French Army.

He could not escape his perceived “destiny” and there was pressure on him to turn professional which he did in December 1964. The pressure of the crowds’ expectations was so stressful for Marcel Jr., that he fainted in the dressing room after the fight. He suffered an upset defeat in only his third fight losing to Michel Danjou but was back in the ring four days later with a win. He put together a 46-fight unbeaten run mainly against modest opposition in rings around France.

At one time he had risen to No 2 in the Ring Magazine junior welterweight ratings but to land a title shot he needed to raise his profile in the USA so he faced unbeaten 18-0 Donato Paduano at Madison Square Garden in May 1970. The gamble did not pay off as he lost a unanimous decision. Back in France, he went 7-0-1 in eight fights drawing with former WBA/WBC light welterweight champion Sandro Lopopolo. His career went off the rails in 1971 as he lost in points to Pietro Gasparri who was 0-5-3 in his last 8 fights. One last throw of the dice saw his promoter bring Canadian welterweight champion Clyde Gray to Marseilles in February 1972 but Cerdan lost again on a unanimous decision. In December Cerdan had his only shot at the French title losing to former victim Robert Gallois and he retired. A one-fight return saw him draw with German Kurt Hombach which ended Cerdan’s career.

Cerdan Snr. had many mistresses the most famous and the last was the greatest of all French singers Edith Piaf. Cerdan Jr. stated in an interview that Piaf “killed” his father. Cerdan was training for the return fight against LaMotta and was not scheduled to travel to the USA for a few weeks. Piaf was appearing in the USA and she pleaded with Cerdan to join her there and he changed his plans and lost his life. Despite this Cerdan Jr was closer to Piaf than to his birth mother, Cerdan Snr’s wife Maria (Marinette) Lopez Berenguer, who refused to attend the fights of her husband and her son. Marcel Jr. insisted on hearing a Piaf song before every fight. After retirement Cerdan Jr. played his father in a film of Marcel Snr’s life but asserted that he did not like boxing-or in fact any sport-but was unable to shake off his destiny. Marcel JR had been careful with this money and is in comfortable retirement shunning publicity and dodging interviews.