On This Day In ’87: The Great Thomas Hearns Makes History

Thomas Hearns enjoyed many, many great nights, and as we all know, “The Hitman” gave us many epic fights. From welterweight all the way up to cruiserweight, Hearns fought the best and he often walked away with the victory.

If Hearns didn’t get the win, he did walk away knowing he had given his all, that he had done his part to make the paying fans happy; this being something very important to Hearns.

On this day in 1987, Hearns, who had set himself the lofty goal of making boxing history by becoming the first man to win world titles in four different weight divisions, scored a pulverizing win that placed him in the history books – for all-time. Hearns had won titles at welterweight, light-middleweight, and light-heavyweight. Now he needed the middleweight belt to achieve his four-title goal.

Hearns had failed in a 1985 challenge for the middleweight crown – this against Marvelous Marvin Hagler, in the epic, never to be outdone WAR – but now he had another shot. Hagler had retired, disgusted over the decision that went against him in April of 1987, when the returning Sugar Ray Leonard pulled off the split decision win in what just might be the single most debated boxing match of all time.

Then Sugar Ray retired (again) and the WBC middleweight belt was left vacant. Hearns, the #1 contender, met Argentine warrior Juan Domingo Roldan, who was the #2 contender, and Las Vegas hosted yet another memorable prize fight.

Hearns was a significant favorite over Roldan, and the history-seeking modern great almost won in rapid fashion as his lethal right hand twice decked Roldan in the opening round. In the second round, Hearns decked Roldan again, this time with his left. But Roldan – credited as being the only man to have ever dropped Hagler, this in their 1984 fight, when an enraged Hagler was adamant he had merely slipped during the first-round – fought back. “The Bull” hurt Hearns in the fourth, his own left hand doing the damage. Hearns had to hold, his chance of making history coming dangerously close to being taken away.

It was all-action, and then Hearns ended matters with another right hand bomb, this one sending Roldan down face-first. It was over and Hearns had done it. Hagler was there at ringside and the former champ climbed into the ring to congratulate the new champ. Also, Hagler teased us, and he teased Hearns, with talk of him coming back. “Look after my belt real good until I come back, if I come back,” Hagler told Hearns.

As we know, Hagler never did come back, leaving Hearns to defend his middleweight title against Iran Barkley. We all know what happened in that fight, in June of 1988. But for now, Hearns was the king of kings. “The Hitman” had done something no other fighter had ever been able to do. How sweet it was for Tommy!

4 thoughts on “On This Day In ’87: The Great Thomas Hearns Makes History”

  1. I was there that night when he beat Roldan. What a fight! That night, nobody beats Tommy, nobody! Not Leonard or Hagler. As Emmanuel Stewart said, “he put it all together that night..”

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