This week in boxing marked one of the greatest fights in boxing history. It was 29 years ago that middleweight champion, Marvin Hagler, and Thomas Hearns met in a fight that only lasted 3 rounds, but it left its mark on boxing fans and it is still talked about today.
When I spoke to Tommy Hearns on the 212th edition of “On The Ropes” I asked him about his encounter with Hagler, and he discussed in detail his thoughts on the fight, how he felt going into it, and why he ultimately chose to fight the way he did. I also talked to Tommy about his rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard, his comeback against Virgil Hill and his problems with Iran Barkley. Here is what Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns had to say in part 2 of his interview.
Jenna J: You stopped Roberto Duran in 2 rounds by KO. How does it feel to be the only person to ever stop him in that way?
Tommy Hearns: It was a great feeling because Roberto is a legend, he was a legend in the lightweight division. He destroyed the lightweight division, nobody in the lightweight division defeated him. I had a chance to fight a legend and I was able to do well against a legend and that made me feel very good.
Jenna J: You were involved in one of the greatest fights in boxing history, your 3 round war with Marvin Hagler. Can you tell me about that fight?
Tommy Hearns: That fight was very, very good for me because I showed people my ability that I have inside and how strong I really was. People really had a great feeling for me because of that. I gave my all to try and win that fight and made some people really proud of that.
Jenna J: Was your plan going into the fight to just go out there and take it to him?
Tommy Hearns: My plan was to go out there and outbox him, and I did not change my plan until the day of the fight. I felt that things had gone well for me in training and all of the sudden I felt like my legs were not there. The day of the fight my legs were not there, so I said, “I’m gonna have to change everything up,” to myself, I didn’t even tell Emanuel.
I told Emanuel when we were at the fight, 15-20 minutes before we went up, I told him what I was gonna do. Emanuel said, “You know how you feel, you know what you gotta do. I believe in you, you go and make it happen.” So I went on in the fight and I started to make things happen. That’s what I did.
Jenna J: You said your legs weren’t there and that’s why you went at him. How long did you really think you could keep up that pace?
Tommy Hearns: I tried to go as long as I possibly could. I didn’t know how long God would allow me to go on, but I wanted to do as much as I possibly could.
Jenna J: You had him cut and it looked like he was hurt. Did you think you were gonna stop him?
Tommy Hearns: I was hoping and praying (laughs). I knew my legs were tired and they weren’t gonna let me go the distance, so I was trying.
Jenna J: How do you feel that people still think of that fight so fondly as one of the greatest fights that they’ve ever seen?
Tommy Hearns: It’s okay that people feel that way, but I don’t feel that way because it wasn’t my greatest performances (laughs). I can’t knock people for how they feel, but I gotta go along with what they say. If they feel it was the best fight they’ve ever seen, then it was the best fight they’ve ever seen. I gotta deal with that.
Jenna J: You were known for rebounding from a tough loss. You ended up winning the light heavyweight title, then you lost it to Iran Barkley and some people felt your career was on the downward side, and then you fight Leonard for a second time. How do you feel about that second fight with Ray Leonard?
Tommy Hearns: I feel that because the fight ended in a draw, I feel that somebody was being cheated in that fight because I was clearly beating him and they called it a draw. I was kind of disappointed because I knew it should not have been a draw, but I’m not a judge, I’m a fighter.
Jenna J: Was there ever talk of a third fight between you and Leonard because of the controversy, or was he done with that?
Tommy Hearns: Oh he was done with that, he was all done. I would have done a third fight but Leonard was not gonna have a third fight.
Jenna J: Not too long after the second fight with Leonard, you and Emanuel Steward parted ways. What happened there between the both of you?
Tommy Hearns: We didn’t really part ways, we just had some difficulties with each other, that’s all. It was just so difficult, it went to the point where we really had to part ways. It was just a point where we needed to clear the air, just sit down and talk with each other, and we did.
Jenna J: Even though you went in another direction, you had some success after that, taking on a then undefeated Virgil Hill. How was it to comeback, and end up winning a light heavyweight title?
Tommy Hearns: Oh Virgil Hill, I’m gonna tell you, Virgil Hill was a very good fighter. I give him a lot of credit because he tried, he really tried when I was in there with him, but I’m just more of a determined fighter, determined to have things the way that I wanted them to be, and Virgil came around at a time where I just refused to be beaten, by anybody! So he had to suffer what was dealt to him.
Jenna J: After you won that title, you had a second fight with Iran Barkley, in which you lost. What was it about Iran Barkley that gave you some much difficulty?
Tommy Hearns: Iran was just such an awkward fighter. He was so awkward and hard to determine what to do to him so it was difficult for me, just really difficult for me.
Jenna J: Tommy, when it’s all said and done, how do you want the boxing fans to remember Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns?
Tommy Hearns: Of course I would like to be remembered as a good fighter that really took on everybody that was out there for me to take on, and just a fighter that wanted to give the fans what they wanted to see, that’s all I wanted to do.
THOMAS HEARNS: “GOING AGAINST SUGAR RAY LEONARD WAS LIKE TWO GREAT CHAMPIONS MEETING AND BATTLING IT ALL OFF!”
Check out part 1 —> https://ontheropesboxing.com/?p=3778