Modern Classics: Hagler-Hearns
By: Sean Crose
I remember my thirteen year old self running downstairs that morning to ask my father who had won. For my dad had gone to the Hartford Civic Center with friends the previous evening to see Marvelous Marvin Hagler defend his middleweight crown against Thomas Hearns. It was a fight between two true warriors in an era when hype for a high level bout got mainstream media attention. Propelled by curiosity, I raced into the kitchen to find my father in his blue bathrobe making breakfast.
“Who won?” I asked him.
He simply turned – and smiled. My old man was a Hagler fan.
As he went on to explain – and as I came to learn myself – the fight was an instant classic. Just how much of an instant classic? So much so that it’s now seen as one of the greatest contests of all time, a complete shock of electricity that still jolts fans and viewers to this day (I show it to college freshman who never cease to be amazed by it’s explosive action and violence).
As a general rule, superfights often deflate expectations. Duran quits. Lewis thrashes Tyson. Mayweather outstrategizes Pacquiao. The same could certainly not be said for Hagler-Hearns. Hagler, at 31 years old, had come up the hard way. There had been no great fanfare as the Massachusetts native worked his way up boxing’s grinding ladder. Hagler had to do it all on his own, plugging up through obscurity to televised fights to – finally – a major bout with Roberto Duran. Hagler’s victory over the Panamanian legend finally shot the bald headed warrior into the stratosphere. Which meant that his name now meant money.
Yet Detroit’s Hearns – known as “The Hitman” for a very good and obvious reason – was looking for more than money. He was looking for Hagler’s belts, as well as for legacy. A tall, lanky ring assassin with top level boxing skills that almost matched his disturbingly powerful right hand, the 26 year old had already fought two explosive, high level battles on the big stage. One was a classic with Ray Leonard, which Hearns had barely lost. The other was against the same Roberto Duran who Hagler had found himself in a real contest with a few years earlier. Unlike Hagler, who had to settle for a decision against Duran, Hearns knocked the famed warrior out in the second round. It wasn’t just any knockout, either, it was one for the ages. For Hearn’s right hand literally put the great Duran face first onto the canvas.
The obvious question had now presented itself to the world: How would Hagler handle such a menace, should Hearns move up to middleweight from the junior middleweight division? On April 15th 1985, at a packed Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the world found out.
Hearn’s entered the ring looking relaxed. Hagler entered the ring looking like a Star War’s villain, his bald head covered both in shadow and by the hood of his robe. Moving towards his rendezvous with Hearns, all that could be seen clearly of the man were the punches he was throwing. Soon enough, the robe was off and Hagler, his face now clear to the world, was standing inches away from his opponent as referee Richard Steele gave instructions. The difference in height was considerable. Hearns, quite simply, towered over his man. One could be be forgiven for wondering how the defending champion would even be able to reach his opponent.
That question was quickly answered at the opening bell, for Hagler went straight at Hearns. A highly regarded practitioner of the jab, Hagler had decided to put that weapon aside and simply go for the kill. This was Thomas Hearns, however, the very definition of ring power. And, true to form, Hearns nailed the defending champion. Hagler survived the shot and the two men continued to engage in a school yard brawl on steroids for the remainder of the round. One landed hard, then the other, all at a lightning fast pace. The crowd roared. The commentators roared. The fists roared. Truly, it was a round for the ages (the greatest in boxing history as far as this writer is concerned – even greater than the off the wall first round between Dempsey and Firpo).
The second round was a fairly normal affair – if by normal one means a high octane three minutes of combat between two masters at their peak. Then, however, came the third. Hearns had taken to boxing rather than engaging. What’s more, Hagler had a cut and was bleeding badly. Steele stopped the fight and called in the ring doctor. The doctor took a quick look at Hagler, then gave the go ahead to continue. Hagler, though, knew the reality of the situation. With an active cut, he might well now be fighting against the clock. It was time to bring matters to a violent conclusion.
Withing seconds, Hagler fired a thunderous right that sent Hearns stumbling across the ring like a vaudevillian playing drunk. Hagler raced forward, firing away. Another terrific right sent Hearns flat on his back. Like all great fighters, Hearns was determined to resume fighting. He managed to get back to his feet in time to beat the count, but it was clear the bout was over. Seeing that Hearns was unable to continue, Steele wisely stopped the fight. Hagler had emerged victorious in a war that wouldn’t soon be forgotten.
Perhaps surprisingly, the two men never met in the ring again.
Tommy Hearns and Jackie Kallen Want to Bring Big Time Boxing Back in Detroit
By: Bryant Romero
Tommy Hearns and Jackie Kallen have finally kicked off a venture that’s been in the long making as “The Hitman” is finally taking a swipe at boxing promoting. Something he’s been contemplating doing since he hung up his boxing gloves over a decade ago. Hearns recognizes how good boxing has been to him and only wants to give back to a sport that has made him a boxing legend. He is hopeful that with this new endeavor, his name recognition and with the support of the boxing fans in the Detroit that both he and Jackie could bring in more boxing shows on a consistent basis in the Motor City.
“The people of Detroit have always been so supportive of me and have been in my corner from my pro debut on,” the Hitman said.
“I really want to give back to my city and bring them the best up and coming fighters around. Our goal is to hopefully get a couple of TV dates next year,” he said.
Not only is Tommy Hearns looking to bring some of the best up and coming talent to his city, but he also wants to give young fighters not only from Detroit but from other cities as well an opportunity to build their records, staying active, and a chance to work with a honest promoter who’s not going to throw them to the wolves. The Hitman wants to be a promoter that gives young fighters the same opportunity that he had in the 1970’s when he was climbing up the professional ranks.
“When I started out, I had the good privilege of being able to fight often,” Tommy said. “I know that times are different, but I want to give some young talent a chance to stay active and develop their skills.”
Tommy and Jackie’s first joint show together will be on June 2 in Detroit at the Atheneum hotel where they plan to showcase two additional cards here in August and October. But how this did venture finally came about which was long overdue?
“Tommy and I have worked together for 40 years,” Jackie told me.
“I started as his publicist when he was 19 years old and we have worked together throughout the years. And he’s always wanted to get into promoting.
“Once he stopped fighting he wanted to start promoting, but it was always just talk. And then fairly recently a lovely dentist here in town, Dr. Reginald Jewell came up to us and said ‘I would like to start a promotional company with you guys and I like to back it and be part of it.
“We hold three dates so far and we’re going to try our hand in putting on some shows for the people of Detroit,” Jackie said.
The duo plan to put on at least 8 fights for their first card in Detroit and both feel that the prospects they plan to showcase have the talent to attract a local following and help with getting some TV dates from a network such as ESPN in the near future.
Who are the prospects they plan to showcase for their first card in Detroit?
“We have Taylor Duerr (6-0, 6KOs) he’s a light heavyweight and he’s got a huge following here so we’re real excited about him,” Jackie told me.
“We have Derrick Colemon Jr. (3-0, 3KOs) and the fans here love him, he’s only 18. He’s really good looking, cute kid and he’s a dynamic fighter.
“We have a guy Isiah Jones (6-0, 3 KOs) who’s also undefeated. I have a fighter out of LA named Oluwafemi Oyeleye (5-0) he’s signed with Mayweather but we’re hoping that together we can work to bring him here for June 2nd as well,” Jackie said.
Both Tommy and Jackie are aware of the challenges ahead now that the boxing business has drastically changed since the 1990’s. But with the talented pool of prospects they plan to showcase in the coming months, they are hopeful that they can deliver more boxing shows to the city of Detroit with more regularity, something that has been lacking in the Motor City for the past few years.
“Our team here is really tight. Detroit has always been a big boxing city,” Jackie said.
“Unfortunately, we had sporadic boxing in the last few years. A fight here, a fight there, no regularity, no consistency in location or regularity in dates.
“So people never really know when there’s a fight and who’s fighting. So we’re hoping to make boxing a regular thing again, where people get used to coming and get used to seeing the same kids each time so they can build a following.
“We want to build certain kids so that these fighters have followings and help them build a solid career,” Jackie said.
You can contact and follow Bryant Romero on Twitter @BoxingTruth88
Flashback: Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran And The Shot Heard Round The World
By: Sean Crose
Both Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran were already legendary figures back in 1984. Duran, the hardened Panamanian tough guy, had finally earned back the respect he had lost after quitting on Ray Leonard in the middle of their 1980 New Orleans rematch by besting Davey Moore and giving middleweight powerhouse Marvin Hagler all he could handle. Hearns, on the other hand was on a six fight win streak after being bested by Leonard in an all-time fight classic several years earlier. As history would go on to prove, both men were serious threats and would remain so for what seemed like ages.
Before they would move on to further glory, however, they would have to face each other. On the line would be Hearn’s WBC super welterweight strap. Duran’s WBA version of the title might have been at stake as well, but Duran gave that belt up rather than fight his mandatory opponent, Mike McCallum. The bout itself was to be held in Las Vegas, outdoors at Caesar’s Palace, to be exact, after the planned Bahamas location proved to be incompatible.
Duran was thirty two years old at the time of the bout, but he had proven age to be just a number when he gave Hagler a run at middleweight just a few months earlier. To consider the Panamanian finished at this point in his career would be a terrible mistake, something Hearn’s trainer, Emanuel Steward, knew all too well. “I can see it going so many ways,” Sports Illustrated quoted Steward as saying beforehand, “and one of them is Tommy hitting Duran with a real shot and Duran just standing there grinning. It could really frustrate Tommy.”
Hearns, though, was not to be frustrated by Duran, at least not in the ring. This was the chance for the guy known as “The Hit Man” to start knocking people out again. Hearns might have won a new title and beaten the likes of Wilfred Benitez since the Leonard loss, but he hadn’t been the frightening puncher he was before the Leonard classic. “His whole value judgment is based on how hard he can hit,” Hearn’s doctor was to be quoted as saying. “This man actually lives and exists mentally from the power of his right hand. It’s his self-image.”
With so much on the line for both men, it was clear that this fight was a big deal. Indeed, it would be no network television event. It would be aired live via closed circuit and pay per view. What’s more, each man would make over a million dollars. With big events, after all, come big bucks. To the undoubted surprise of many, however, the fight ended up being a big blowout. That doesn’t mean it was a dud, however. Indeed, Hearns-Duran still stands as a thrilling, if completely one sided, two round action fest.
It was said that Duran intensely wanted the Hearns fight. Yet within the first round that evening, the 2-1 underdog was dropped before the live crowd of close to 15,000 people. What’s more, Duran was dropped again before the round was over. To make matters worse, Hearns had dazed his man so badly that Duran went to the wrong corner after the bell sounded ending the first chapter. “He surprised me,” Duran reportedly told his corner. Before rising for the second round, however, Duran explicitly instructed his team not to stop the fight. It was as if the man knew what was coming.
The days of quitting were indeed over for Roberto Duran, but a terrible loss was now imminent. Finding his man with his back to the ropes in the midst of a savage bit of handiwork, Hearns fired a right hand for the ages. It hit Duran so cleanly, with such power, that the iconic fighter literally fell flat on his face before a stunned crowd. There was no need for a count. Indeed a count would only have prolonged what was a finished fight. Doing the right thing, referee Carlos Pedilla stopped the bout. The ferocious Hearns was back by virtue of a single frightening shot that echoed throughout the early Vegas night and beyond.
The story, of course, wasn’t over for either man. Less than a year later, Hearns himself would be the victim of a timeless knockout, courtesy of the gutsy Hagler. He would then move on to redeem himself against Leonard (thanks to a controversial draw) before, incredibly, earning himself a light heavyweight championship. And Duran? Well, the not so old man would go on to stun the world again by besting the terrific Iran Barkely for the middleweight title later in the decade. The lesson? Great fighters can never be counted out – even after they’ve been counted out.
More Boxing History
Boxing Insider Notebook: Cotto, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Canelo, Ward, Kovalev, and more…
Boxing Insider Notebook: Cotto, Mayweather, Pacquiao, Canelo, Ward, Kovalev, and more…
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of May 16th to May 23rd, covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Miguel Cotto to Face Yoshihiro Kamegai on August 26th
Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs), the only four-division world champion in the rich boxing history of Puerto Rico, will return to the ring on Saturday, August 26 to take on the always-exciting Yoshihiro “El Maestrito” Kamegai (27-3-2, 24 KOs) in a 12-round match for the vacant WBO Junior Middleweight World Championship from the StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. Cotto will attempt to secure a sixth world championship in four weight classes as he makes his 23rd appearance on HBO.
Cotto, a surefire, first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, has held world titles in the super lightweight, welterweight, junior middleweight and middleweight divisions and has fought and defeated a who’s who of elite fighters over the last 15 years including Kelson Pinto, Demarcus “Chop Chop” Corley, Ricardo “Mochuelo” Torres, Paulie “Magic Man” Malignaggi, Zab “Super” Judah, Sugar Shane Mosley, Antonio “El Tornado de Tijuana” Margarito, Ricardo “El Matador” Mayorga and Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez.
“I’m very excited to be back and showcase a high level fight for the fans,” Cotto said. “Kamegai is a great, tough fighter, but I will be ready for him and to capture the world title. I can’t wait to start training for this fight and get back in the ring on August 26.”
Kamegai is known as one of the highest-action fighters in the sport having engaged in a fight of the year candidate against Jesus “Renuente” Soto Karass in 2016 and taking champions and contenders including Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero, Alfonso Gomez and Johan “El Terrible” Perez into deep water.
“I fully understand who I am going to be in the ring against, but Cotto’s record and history won’t matter once we are toe-to-toe,” Kamegai said. “I am looking forward to giving fans the kind of aggressive fight that they have seen from me before and having my arm raised in victory.
“Miguel Cotto is a legend who is still fighting for title belts more than a dozen years after first being crowned a world champion. It’s remarkable,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “But I’ve seen Kamegai in action many times, and the guy doesn’t ever take a step back. Miguel will have his hands full on August 26.”
“August 26 will mark the return of Miguel Cotto pursuing his sixth world title,” said Hector Soto, Vice President of Miguel Cotto Promotions. “Cotto vs. Kamegai will be another epic battle that promises fireworks in the ring between Puerto Rico and Japan. Miguel Cotto is back on the big stage of boxing, fighting in Los Angeles on HBO. Nobody can miss it.”
Floyd Mayweather Invites Anthony Joshua to Las Vegas to Train
Floyd Mayweather Jr. recently spoke to Fight Hype and invited Anthony Joshua to come to the Mayweather Boxing Club and train with him in Las Vegas. Mayweather met with Joshua in London on Sunday and praised him for his victory over Wladimir Klitschko.
Mayweather stated, “You have to respect AJ. He showed that he had heart but we have to bring hum up to the Mayweather Boxing Club as we want to tighten that defense up until it’s real, real sharp and real, real slick.”
Maayweather, who was in London for his Gervonta Davis’ fight, continued by stating , “I’m not trying to move his trainers out the way but there’s things we want to tweak. You saw what we did to Tank [Gervonta Davis]…nobody knew who this kid even wa. But we brought him up and now he’s world champion.”
View Mayweather’s comments at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oxavXE7Gs6Y
Manny Pacquiao’s Coach is Wary of Jeff Horn’s Punching Power
Manny Pacquiao is set to face Australia’s Jeff Horn on July 2nd at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, Australia.
Many people consider this to be an easy fight for pacquiao, but Hall of Fame Trainer Freddie Roach recently told ABC-SBN that he has some concerns and isn’t underestimating Horn’s power.
He stated, “This guy can punch. He’s knocked out his last few opponents.” He continued, “He’s dangerous with the right, he has a real good right hook, and that’s something Manny’s been hit with before. We’re fixing all that now and it won’t be a concern by fight time.”
Read more at http://sports.abs-cbn.com/boxing/news/2017/05/23/manny-pacquiao-s-coach-wary-jeff-horn-s-punching-power-26396
Canelo Cements Status as Top Draw in Boxing As Pay Per View Numbers from May 6th Fight Set to Eclipse Seven Figures
The Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. fight on Cinco De Mayo weekend will generate more than one million buys on HBO Pay-Per-View, locking in Canelo’s status as the brightest light in boxing, Golden Boy Promotions announced today.
“Everything I do is for the fans, and I want to express my gratitude for everyone who watches my fights and shows their support,” Canelo said. “My fans are the greatest in the world and this year in September on Mexican Independence weekend, everyone can look forward to another incredible performance.”
Some facts about Canelo’s PPV performance:
•Canelo will be the youngest A-side fighter in history to generate a seven-figure pay-per-view audience;
•This will be the largest Pay-Per-View audience to watch in a boxing match in two years;
•Canelo will be the first A-side fighter in 15 years not named De La Hoya, Mayweather or Pacquiao, to draw a million buys.
“These numbers solidify Canelo as the undisputed biggest name in the sport of boxing-simple as that,” said Oscar De La Hoya, Chairman and CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “At 26 years old, there is no limit to Canelo’s star power as he continues to cross over to mainstream audiences. Canelo only wants to take on the best and the biggest, and we’re confident he will continue to shatter records as boxing’s new pay-per-view king.
24/7 Ward-Kovalev II Premieres June 2nd on HBO
In advance of the highly anticipated light heavyweight championship rematch between world-class prizefighters Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev, HBO Sports will air “24/7 Ward/Kovalev 2,” an exhilarating 30-minute special examining the upcoming encounter. The intriguing pay-per-view event featuring the two pound-for-pound aces takes place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas.
The “24/7 Ward/Kovalev 2” special will premiere Friday, June 2 at 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT). The special will look back at their first fight and will preview the hotly anticipated rematch between two accomplished and tenacious ring warriors who first met last November under the red-hot Las Vegas spotlight. Ward, who has not lost a fight since his teen-age years, scored a razor-thin decision over Kovalev and collected all the title belts that the Russian knockout specialist had accumulated. The special will provide all-new content including portraits of both fighters’ path to this impactful showdown. Each has set up training camp on the west coast; Ward in his hometown of Oakland, CA and Kovalev farther south in both Big Bear and Oxnard, CA.
The 30-minute special narrated by Liev Schreiber and produced by HBO’s Emmy-Award-winning “24/7” production team will also be available on HBO On Demand®, HBO GO®, HBO NOW and affiliate portals as well as at www.hbo.com/boxingandvarious other new media platforms that distribute the show.
Thomas Hearns Visits Claressa Shields in Training at Berston Field House in Flint
Two-time Olympic Gold Medalist and Women’s NABF Middleweight Champion, Claressa “T-Rex” Shields had a very special visitor at her gym yesterday, none other than all-time Michigan great Thomas “Hitman” Hearns.
Hearns, from Detroit, is the 1980 and 1984 The Ring Magazine “Fighter of the Year” and the first boxer in history to win world titles in five weight divisions: welterweight, light middleweight, middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight.
22-year-old Shields (2-0, 1 KO) of Flint, is currently preparing for her eight-round main event against Mery Rancier (7-8-3, 5 KOs) of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for the WBC Silver Super Middleweight Championship at Salita Promotions’ “Detroit Brawl” on Friday, June 16, 2017 at the Masonic Temple in Detroit.
“I came out to see her because I want her to do well. I think it’s wonderful that a female fighter is the best from Michigan right now,” said Hearns. “The world is all about change and this is change for the better. I feel good about it. The champions from the past from Michigan are passing the torch to the next great fighter from here and that’s Claressa. The fans in Michigan should come out and help support her because she is the future.”
Shields said she was humbled to have such an all-time great supporting her.
“To have Tommy Hearns come out to my gym means a lot to me, I feel like I’m moving my career in the right direction and getting the right attention. I’m not just some girl putting on some gloves. It means a lot to be the latest big-name fighter to come from Michigan. I’m glad Tommy Hearns chose to come here and it does feel like a passing of the torch. He is very supportive and it feels great to be respected by such a great world champion.”
Shields says her training is going extremely well for her third professional and second championship fight.
“Training so far has been going really good. We’re 29 days out of the fight and I’m in the best shape of my life. I trained hard for my six-rounder and that only went four rounds and I feel like I’m still in shape from that. Now I’m getting ready for eight rounds and I feel great. I’m fighting at 168 pounds and I’m at 168 right now. I haven’t been having weight problems and I’m eating right and running every day.”
Shields promoter, Dmitriy Salita, says Hearns indicated he was very impressed with Shields’ gym work.
“Claressa is the next boxing superstar from the state of Michigan,” he said. “It’s a very special passing of the torch from such a living legend who lives in Detroit as Tommy Hearns. Mr. Hearns, who is a Detroit boxing icon and a great ambassador of the sport, was very impressed with Claressa’s skills and training regimen.”
Salita says he sees Shields’ potential for superstardom and her ability to revive the energy in Michigan boxing.
“Detroit is Americas Greatest Comeback city. We are going to see a revival of world-class boxing, ushered in by a young lady from Flint who despite growing up in very difficult circumstances, is a two-time Olympic Gold Medalist, the most accomplished boxer every to come out of the USA boxing program. This is only her third pro bout, and she is fighting for the WBC Silver title on June 16. We are witnessing something very special here and it’s very ironic that it’s all taking place close to Detroit, which is fighting back for its own recognition again as one of Americas Greatest cities.”
Sampson Lewkowicz Congratulates David Benavidez for Sensational KO of Porky Medina
Promoter Sampson Lewkowicz wishes to congratulate his fighter, David “El Bandera Roja” Benavidez of Phoenix, Arizona, for his sensational eighth-round knockout over Mexico’s Rogelio “Porky” Medina on Saturday night at the Laredo Energy Arena in Laredo, Texas.
With the star-making victory, Benavidez (18-0, 17 KOs) becomes a mandatory challenger for the WBC Super Middleweight Championship. And, depending on when it happens, a win in that fight could make 20-year-old Benavidez the youngest super middleweight world champion in boxing history.
“We were hopeful David would win the fight,” said Lewkowicz, “but I am amazed at how he won. He was incredible. Have you ever seen a knockout like that? An eight-punch combination that almost put Medina out of the ring? David is the best super middleweight in the world. No one can take his punches.”
Lewkowicz, who is often credited for spotting the early talent in champions Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez, has been predicting stardom for Benavidez since early in his career. He now says the sky is the limit for his young charge.
“David’s first fight with me was in November 2015. I said after that fight he was something special and he will be champion by the end of 2017. Medina is a very good fighter. He gave (IBF Super Middleweight Champion) James DeGale a very tough fight not long ago. And David beat him up to the head and body. He works very hard to be who he is and deserves everything he gets.”
Lewkowicz says Benavidez will take a short time off to rest and then get back in the gym to begin training for his championship challenge.
“It doesn’t make a difference who he fights for the title. David will roll over everybody he fights. He is the new boss at 168 lbs. I am very happy to be his promoter and my congratulations also go to his father, Jose, who does a great job getting him ready for his fights.”