By Jackie Kallen
I have been close to Thomas Hearns and his family for over 34 years. So of course I was on hand last night to watch his son Ronald return to the ring after two KO losses in a row. In April he was stopped in the first round against Erislandy Lara in Biloxi. A year before that he was stopped by Felix Sturm in Germany.
This was to have been his comeback fight. At 33 years old, he knows he is on borrowed time. Two severe losses in a row can seriously derail a career. He needed a solid win to quiet his detractors and regain his footing in the Junior Middleweight division. Apparently a match against Derrick Findley seemed like the right move to Team Hearns.
With a 19-8 record, the 28 year-old Findley from Gary, Indiana must have seemed like a safe choice. He has knocked out less than half of his opponents and has been stopped himself (by Andre Dirrell.) The think tank behind Hearns obviously felt this would be a good match. It turned out to be anything BUT.
It was 2:34 in the second round of the fight when the two boxers started clutching and wrestling. They both fell to a heap in the neutral corner. Findley got up. Hearns did not. With his father looking on in horror and concern, Ronald writhed and moaned on the canvas. The referee Frank Garza waved the paramedics in. They worked on Hearns for several minutes as a hush came over the crowd.
With his arms and legs visibly moving, Hearns was unable to get up. He seemed to indicate that his neck was hurting him. Findley later claimed that he hit Hearns with a hook and “heard his neck pop.” You could tell that the situation shook Findley up. No boxer ever wants to intentionally injure another man. He was very remorseful.
After what seemed like a long time, Hearns was gently placed in a neck brace and carried out on a spineboard. He was taken to Oakwood Heritage Hospital with many family members following behind the EMS vehicle. After a night of tests and exams, Hearns was released. It turned out to be a sprained neck, but nothing life-threatening or debilitating.
That being said, I still believe that Ronald and his advisors need to think things over very intensely. After three KO losses in a row, it might be a sign from the universe that it is time to move on. A fighter’s health and well-being must be the number one priority. The inability to take a good punch can prove to be a major liability.
In the semi-main event, the opposite situation arose. Lanardo Tyner squared off against a tough Bronx fighter named Angel Rios. This guy must have watched a lot of Jake LaMotta fight tapes. He had the same invincible style. You could beat the crap out of him and he just kept coming.
The crowd was on their feet screaming as Tyner threw everything he had at Rios for six rounds. The USNBC champ looked shocked and puzzled as he continued his barrage of punches and seemingly could not shake Rios. In fact, the game New Yorker seemed to thrive on the abuse and just kept coming back for more.
Tyner won the decision, but the fans gave Rios a hero’s ovation. He gave everyone their money’s worth and is a much better fighter than his 9-13 record indicates. He may have been beaten 13 times, but he has never been stopped. I’m not sure that is such a good thing. I would be afraid to look at an MRI of Rios’s head.
Local favorite Tony Harrison continued his winning streak by beating Marqus Jackson from Atlanta. Harrison is now 10-0. Leandre “Blue” White upped his stats to 3-0 by getting the decision nod against Anthony Woods. After the bout, Blue was critical of his lackluster performance, stating that he had a bad cold and had trouble breathing.
The event was a co-promotion between Thomas Hearns and car dealer George Kaltsas. It was held at a hockey arena and although it was unusually cold in there, the Tyner/Rios fight warmed up the room. With so many people yelling and cheering, I’m surprised the ice didn’t melt.
Jackie Kallen is a boxing manager who has been in the business for over three decades. Her life inspired the Meg Ryan film “Against the Ropes” and she was a part of the NBC series “The Contender.” www.JackieKallen.com, www.facebook.com/JackieKallen