35 years ago (October 29, 1988), the great Thomas Hearns, who set himself the goal of making boxing history by becoming the first man to win world titles in four different weight divisions, achieved a great success that made it into history. books for all time.
Hearns won the welterweight, middleweight and heavyweight titles. He now needs the middleweight belt to achieve his goal of four titles.
Hearns failed in a 1985 challenge for the middleweight crown – this one against Marvelous Marvin Hagler, in a legendary, never-to-be-conquered WAR – but now he has another shot. Hagler retired, disgusted by the decision she made against him in April of 1987, when the returning Sugar Ray Leonard pulled off a decision victory in what may be the most controversial boxing match of all time.
Then Sugar Ray retired (again) and the WBC middleweight belt was left vacant. Hearns, the #1 contender, met Argentine champion Juan Domingo Roldan, who was the #2 contender, and Las Vegas hosted a memorable prize fight.
Hearns was a huge favorite against Roldan, and the greatest contender for modern history almost won quickly as his deadly right hand wore Roldan down in the first round. In the second round, Hearns floored Roldan again, this time with his left. But Roldan – credited as the only man to have ever stopped Hagler, this one in their 1984 fight, when Hagler was furious and insisted he just slip in the first round – fought back.
“The Bull” hurt Hearns in the fourth, his left arm was damaged. Hearns had to hold on, his chance to make history coming dangerously close to taking.
It’s all action, and then Hearns ends things with a right hand bomb, that sends Roldan face first. It’s over and Hearns does it. Hagler was there at ringside and the former champion climbed into the ring to congratulate the new champion. Hagler also teased us, and teased Hearns, with talk of his comeback. “Really watch my belt until I get back, when I get back,” Hagler told Hearns.
As we know, Hagler did not return, leaving Hearns to defend his middleweight title against Iran Barkley. We all know what happened in that fight, in June of 1988. But now, Hearns is the king of kings. “The Hitman” did something no other fighter could do.