Boxing

Son of ND boxer Virgil Hill to make pro debut

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NEW TOWN, N.D. (AP)

A son of Hall of Fame North Dakota boxer Virgil Hill has traded in his baseball glove for boxing gloves and is set to make his professional debut.

Virgil Hill Jr., 23, is fighting Brent Moorehead of Texas City, Texas, in a World Boxing Federation welterweight bout Friday night at 4 Bears Casino and Lodge near New Town, The Forum and Minot Daily News reported.

The 6-foot, 168-pound Hill - whose mother is former Olympic sprinter Denean Howard - once had a promising baseball career. He excelled at the sport while growing up in California and was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals but later released. He then focused on a boxing career, being trained by his father, a five-time world champion in the light heavyweight and cruiserweight classes and a 1984 Olympic silver medalist.

Hill Jr. said he has always wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. He was with his father at several title fights, including ones in Germany and France.

''Most people have guys like Muhammad Ali that they idolize and Sugar Ray Leonard and Ray Robinson,'' Hill Jr. said. ''My superhero is my father. For me he can do everything and do anything. I grew up idolizing him.''

Hill Jr. said he sat down and talked with his father when he decided to pursue a boxing career.

''It's not every day a guy gets a five-time world champion as a coach, let alone as a father,'' the younger Hill said. ''He's going to make sure I'm right. He's got me in the best shape I've ever been in, in my entire life. I feel good, feel strong, and I'm ready.''

The pair spent the first two months working entirely on defense.

''He was already aggressive,'' said Hill Sr., 49. ''We had to teach him how to block shots, counter and flip inside, stuff like that. That's tough stuff.''

When they secured a fight date, training shifted to getting into shape. That was the easy part for the elder Hill.

''He wants to do everything and more,'' Hill Sr. said. ''Most people you have to push to get them in shape. You can get spoiled as a coach because it's so easy to train him because he just does whatever you ask him to do.''

Hill Jr. said he knows that the road to a title fight is a long one.

''I know it's not going to be easy and it's not something that's going to come fast,'' he said. ''I believe in the process. The main thing is I love what I'm doing and I love who I'm working with. That makes it fun.

''Most people say, `You've got big shoes to fill,''' he said. ''Personally, I like it. I see it as a challenge. If I get anywhere close to what he did in his career, I'll be all right.''

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