Saturday, April 21, 2001

Pryor's son missing dad's fury

        Stefan Pryor was back on his heels. He was fighting flat-footed, and wrong-fisted. He came out of his corner Friday night determined to play with Corey McCants for a while before he began pounding him.

        He would fight the first round left-handed, and none too well. Pryor moved like a man learning to waltz in leg irons, and his punches were too sporadic to inflict much pain. Except for the name on his waistband — Pryor II — he looked nothing at all like his old man.

Stefan Pryor and dad Aaron strike a pose before the fight.
(Brandi Stafford photos)
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        “What are you waiting for, man?” Aaron Pryor shouted to his son from behind the ropes at the Cintas Center. “Go punching.”

        Subtlety was never Aaron Pryor's style. The wondrous welterweight was a boxing whirlwind, a man who would run toward his opponent at the start of a round and commence launching unrelenting combinations of punches. There was no one like him in the late 1970s, and there is no one like him now.

        Stefan Pryor is his own man, and he is his own boxer. He chose to experiment with his prey instead of beating him senseless at the opening bell. He waited until the second round to revert to his natural right-handed stance, before stopping McCants with a short right hand to the side of the head in the third round.

"Toying with him'

        The show of patience belied his paternity. The show of power, however, was pretty Pryoresque.

        “I was toying with him,” Stefan Pryor explained. “I knew what I was doing would confuse him. But my dad said, "Quit playing. Take him out.' ”

        Stefan Pryor is 26, a little old to be fighting four-round preliminaries, but comparatively unscarred by professional boxing. Friday's bout was only the fourth of his professional career, and just the third one his father considers official. Nine years ago, when Aaron Pryor's attention was dominated by drugs, his son temporarily turned pro underage and overmatched.

"A lot to learn'

        As Aaron Pryor has gained control of his own life, he has sought to steer his oldest son toward ring renown. After a lengthy amateur apprenticeship, Stefan Pryor is 3-0 in his second tour as a pro.

Pryor (right) trade punches with Corey McCants.
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        “He's got a lot to learn,” Aaron Pryor said. “I hope he stays in training with me.”

        “I've got to get sharpened up and I'll be ready,” Stefan Pryor promised. “A year from now, I'll be sharp — sharp like a razor.”

        No boxer lasts very long without a considerable amount of confidence. The boxer who shares Aaron Pryor's blood is bound to believe all things are possible and anything short of razor-sharp is deadly dull.

        “It's pressure,” said Aaron Pryor Jr., a spectator at Friday's card at Xavier University. “It's the Aaron Pryor name. When you get the Aaron name, you've got to respect it. You can't go out there and look like some scrub.”

        For three minutes Friday, Stefan Pryor looked scrub-like. The winless McCants was carrying the fight to him, forcing the action, backing Pryor into the ropes. Then Pryor returned to his right-handed stance and rapidly took charge of the fight. “Make the moves, make the moves, make the Hawk moves,” Aaron Pryor shouted, invoking his own nickname and the family code for a furious combination.

        Stefan Pryor's Hawk moves left McCants reeling near the end of the second round, and he finished him at 1:02 of the third round. He may want to stick with that right-handed stance.

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