Whether your preference is the “Hitman” moniker or the “Motor City Cobra” handle, we all know how proficient Thomas Hearns was at getting the job done; of picking up the win and going home victorious. Hearns did it so many times as a welterweight, and as a light-middleweight. Heck, Hearns was so great, so physically gifted, he was able to rule the world at middleweight, at super-middleweight – even at light-heavyweight.
But this article asks one big question: could ANY of today’s prime, elite and celebrated 147 pounders have lived with the 1980/1981 version of Hearns, much less have had a chance of defeating him? Yes, Hearns had his dose of Kryptonite – if he was matched with the right fighter, the great fighter (and back then, well, fighters from all weights were far less inclined to duck and dodge the real challenges; you know, the ones that would define them, win or lose).
Hearns, as special as he was, never had a granite chin (yet I refuse to accept Hearns had what could be described as a “glass” chin – 14 rounds with Leonard? Three hellish rounds with Hagler? 12, 175-pound rounds of warfare with Barkley? Is this really the stuff of a glass chin?) But would any of today’s best welterweights have been able to take advantage?
How would Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Shawn Porter and, dare I ask it, Manny Pacquiao, have coped with Hearn’s almost insane reach, with his savage, as accurate as a snake and just as lethal as it’s bite, right hand, with his speed and with his underrated body punching? Not too well, I dare to suggest. Remember, as great as Sugar Ray Leonard was, it took a gargantuan effort from Leonard (and Angelo Dundee) to be able to defeat Hearns. Could any of today’s best at 147 have reached in, have dug down to the depths and have come up with as much when swollen, when half-blinded, when so hopelessly behind on points as Leonard was? Again, I dare to say no. And don’t try and tell me any of today’s best at 147 would have had an easy time with Hearns!
Hearns – who left the division sporting a 32-1(30) record – was a true monster at welterweight: fast, incredibly powerful, full of heart and courage and also a smooth, classy boxer. As good as today’s welters are, none would beat Hearns. Maybe one or two of them would have lived with him, in as much as being able to give him a good, honest duel. Maybe.
Want proof? See Hearns’ utter destruction of the feared Pipino Cuevas, his winning rounds against Leonard, and his long, prolonged beating of Randy Shields, and also his do-away wins over capable fighters, Harold Weston, Bruce Curry and Bruce Finch.
Hearns would be the undisputed king of the welterweights today. Agree or disagree?