|03-02-2005, 04:34 PM||#1|
Join Date: Feb 2005
Rep Power: 50
NAME:THOMAS "THE HITMAN" HEARNS
RECORD: 59-5-1(46 KO'S)
NOTABLE WINS:ROBERTO DURAN, VIRGIL HILL, WILFRED BENITEZ
NOTABLE LOSSES: IRAN BARKLEY, SUGAR RAY LEONARD, MARVIN HAGLER
In the 1980?s Sports had a golden age of talented quartets that excited the fan bases of their respective sports. Football had Dan Marino, Jim Kelley, Joe Montana and John Elway. Basketball had Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Dominique Wilkins and Magic Johnson. And in boxing you had the magical foursome of Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and the man I am going to talk about today, Thomas ?The Hit man? Hearns. Hearns was one of the most exciting fighters of the 1980?s who took on all comers and provided excitement to fans for many rounds over a career that would span close to two decades.
Tommy Hearns was destined for greatness early in his career. He was an extremely accomplished amateur boxer, losing only 8 bouts in 163 amateur fights. Hearns would win the prestigious Golden Gloves tournament as well as two national AAU tournaments before deciding to finally go pro under the tutelage of Emmanuel Steward and the Kronk Gym of Detroit Michigan. Under the tutelage of Steward, Hearns would begin his long pro career in 1977
The Hitman would steamroll through his first 29 bouts, winning 27 of them by KO before getting his first crack at a world title. This first title shot would come against tough WBA Welterweight champion Pipino Cuevas. Many though that Cuevas would extend Hearns further than anyone had in his career because Tommy had not fought his level of opposition before. The doubters were proven wrong very quickly as Hearns steamrolled through Cuevas like he was a beginner en route to a 2nd round KO and the first of many world titles to come.. Hearns would make 3 successful defenses of this belt before going into a bout with another young and gifted superstar in one Sugar Ray Leonard.
Now Sugar ray was kind of the antithesis of everything that Tommy Hearns represented. Hearns was the street smart boxer from Detroit. Leonard was the pampered Olympic Golden boy who was a media darling of sorts. This fight pitted two men at the very top of their game and was one of the most anticipated in years. And these men delivered a performance to remember for the ages. Back and forth these two gladiators would go. Hearns won the first six rounds of the bout by outboxing the master boxer. Leonard would mount a comeback in rounds 6-9 working behind a good body attack. Hearns reversed the momentum again by winning rounds 9-12 , outlanding Leonard and building up a comfortable points lead. However Hearns would make a mistake. Realizing he was ahead on the cards Hearns took a more cautious approach in round 13 and midway through the round he ended up getting knocked through the ropes by a combination of Leonard pushing him and Sugar?s punches. Hearns would survive the round but come out much worse for wear. Leonard capitalized on this opportunity and would go after Hearns like a shark smelling blood, beating him viciously until the ref called a halt to the bout midway through the round leaving The Hitman with his first professional loss. It was a tough loss for Tommy but he would be able to get back on the right track
Tommy would get back on the winning track again late in 1981 and then go on a roll winning 6 bouts in a 2 and a half year time span, including picking up another World title. The title victory occurred over another future Hall of Famer Wilfred Benitez in a 15 round bout and would give him a title in a 2nd weight class. Hearns racked up two more easy victories before his bout with another of the big four fighters of the era, Roberto ?Hands Of Stone? Duran. Now Duran was well known to the public as Mr. No Mas from his bout with Sugar Ray Leonard. But he was also known as one of the toughest and most durable fighters of the modern era and had never been stopped. This would change dramatically as Duran decided he wanted to trade with the more powerful man in Hearns and ended up paying for it by being stopped in 2 rounds. No one had ever demolished Roberto Duran like that and it once again set up Hearns as one of boxing?s mega stars. A quick KO defense over a mandatory challenger would set up what in my opinion was one of the greatest bouts ever seen. An April 1985 date with one Marvelous Marvin Hagler.
Marvin Hagler is a fighter who truly needs no introduction. He was the no 1 middleweight in the world at the time of the bout. Having steamrolled through tough competition throughout his career, Hagler had not really been tested in almost two years leading up to the fight and many thought Hearns would be the man to knock him off his pedestal of undisputed middleweight champ.. The battle between these two men cannot be described as a boxing match but more so as a war. Hearns unloaded everything he had on Hagler in the first round, pounding him with hooks to the head and stunning the Marvelous one . The two would trade toe to toe in the center of the ring in one of the best rounds of boxing I think I have ever seen. The action would continued to be pressed by Hearns in round two as he tried to take advantage of the bleeding Hagler, hoping he could finish him off before he could regain his wits about him. Hagler managed to gain some senses back in between round 2 and 3 and would come out a bit fresher for the 3rd round.
In the 3rd round Hearns again pressed the attack, choosing to trade with Hagler when he probably would have been safer to stay outside and box with him. This strategic flaw eventually ended up costing the Hitman as a little over midway through the round Hagler landed a vicious combo that sent Hearns dancing around the ring like he was on marionette strings and cause him to lose the bout via 3rd round KO. It was one of the most brutal wars in boxing history and I think the last time that we would see a close to prime Tommy Hearns.
Hearns would pick up another world title in 1987 with a one fight foray into the Light Heavyweight divison against Brazillian Dennis Andries. He would then drop down to middleweight and pick up the WBC Middleweight Belt against Juan Roldan before entering a bout against a fighter who would have his number both times they met, Iran Barkley.
Hearns was a huge favorite going into the bout against Barkley. He looked at this defense as a steppingstone to bigger and better things later in the year. The fight started as many had predicted, with Hearns controlling the early action and busting open Barkley. Barkley was cut deep and the fight looked like it could be stopped anytime. However Iran pulled out the proverbial bottom of the 9th inning comeback as he floored a careless Hearns in the 3rd round. Tommy was badly stunned and once he got up Barkley moved in and finished the job in what was the upset of the year. Hearns would recover from this stunning upset though. He looked ordinary in his next bout but managed to pull out a win against a lesser fighter named James Kinchen. The fact that Hearns looked ordinary would propel him into a rematch with a comebacking Sugar Ray Leonard.
Sugar Ray Leonard had been on the mind of Tommy Hearns for years after his crushing defeat to him. Hearns had never been able to pin down a rematch with Ray for various reasons but now in his supposed faded state, Ray was eager to face Tommy and was confident he could defeat him on his march back to glory. Little did ray know that Hearns would come into this bout hungrier and more well prepared than he had been in a couple of years. Hearns attacked Leonard from the opening bell, consistently outlanding him. Sugar Ray would even be taken off of his feet in the 3rd round and later in the bout in the 11th. But when the scorecards came back , Tommy Hearns had been robbed as the fight was scored a draw. This was a horrible decision that let Leonard keep his mystique so to speak and get further big money bout later down the line.
Hearns would recover from this setback, going on to win a title in a record 6th weight class with a WBO super middleweight title win over Michael Olajide in 1990. He cruised through two minor opponents before getting what would be his last real major fight, a bout with then undefeated light heavyweight champion Virgil Hill. Hill was considered a top fighter at the time he took on Hearns but he was also untested. Hill, who was from North Dakota, often fought on his home turf and on more than one occasion had gotten some shoddy hometown decisions. Question were being raised about his legitimacy so he decided to take on an aging Tommy Hearns in Las Vegas to quiet the doubters. Little did Virgil know that Tommy had one last game performance in his aging legs and he and the Las Vegas crowd were in shock as Hearns out boxed Hill throughout the evening en route to a Unanimous decision win. This would be the last real glorifying moment of Hearns career
Hearns would take on Iran Barkley in his first defense of the newly acquired WBA Light Heavyweight belt and promptly lose it on a tough split decision points loss. After this loss Tommy never got a truly big fight again as he would battle fringe contenders and club fighters until his final bout in 2000 where he badly injured his ankle in the ring and decided to finally call it quits. Thomas Hearns had an incredibly illustrious career that lasted over twenty years and brought hundreds of rounds of excitement to fans all over the world. For this all boxing fans should be truly grateful to have witnessed ?The Hitman?
Last edited by elgigante : 03-04-2005 at 12:26 AM.