By James Slater – The great, the legendary Thomas “Hitman” Hearns was the holder of the WBC middleweight crown in 1987 and ‘88, the 160-pound weight class being one of five the all-time great conquered, and now his son Ronald is set to try and win the WBA version of the middleweight crown. It has been reported by ESPN.com that the 32-year-old son of the “Motor City Cobra” will travel to Germany on Feb. 19th to challenge Felix Sturm.
Hearns, 26-1(20) will have the support of the entire city of Detroit on his side come fight time, and the magical Hearns name will ensure the fight is watched by a good many fans.. But is Ronald, who was stopped in the 9th-round by Harry Joe Yorgey for his sole pro defeat, good enough to take the belt from the accomplished 34-2-1 (14) Sturm?
Hearns’ promoter Lou DiBella certainly thinks so.
“It’s a tremendous career opportunity for Ronald,” DiBella told Dan Rafael. “I think Sturm is extremely talented. We all know that, but he has been around for a long time. He’s not a huge puncher and Ronald can really punch, so it’s a great opportunity for him.
“If Ronald can go to Germany and do well, even if he loses, he can come back here bigger than when he left. He’ll go there and give it everything he has against one of the best middleweights in the world.”
There is no doubt Hearns will give his all in the fight. But can he win it? It’s true 31-year-old Sturm is no puncher, but he has so much more experience than Hearns has. Having been in with the likes of Oscar De La Hoya (a points loss many fans think he actually won), Javier Castillejo (twice) and Sebastian Sylvester, the former WBO champ and two-time WBA ruler has proven himself at world level. In all fairness, Hearns has not.
Coming to the game at a late age, with precious little amateur experience, Ronald romped to a straight 21 wins, in the process proving he has been blessed with some of the skill and class – if not the murderous punching power – of his legendary father. But the loss to Yorgey in March of 2009 was a big setback (especially considering how quickly Yorgey was dismantled by Alfredo Angulo in his next bout). Hearns has won five in a row since the 9th-round TKO loss, against limited opponents. There is no doubt about it: if Hearns never had the surname he has and if he never had the promoter he has, he would not be getting this big chance.
But at age 32, Ronald has been given what will perhaps be his one and only shot at a world title. Sturm is far from unbeatable, and when he was stopped, by Castillejo in their first fight, he was stopped by an old guy considered to be past his best. Hearns is a young 32 and he is both fast and powerful. It would be no massive shock if the slightly older but fresher man got the points win. I can’t see Hearns taking Sturm out, but he has a good workrate and he will be hugely motivated at being given this chance. And maybe, as DiBella alluded to, Sturm is getting a bit long in the tooth. The timing of this fight could really suit the challenger.
A Sturm stoppage win cannot be ruled out. I think Hearns will have to box a near-perfect fight to win. Maybe he can do it.