Sugar Ray Leonard fought the best of the best, but to him, there was no one like Thomas Hearns.
“He was a freak of nature,” Leonard said. “With his height, with his reach, with his power, with his speed, with his heart. Tommy had the whole package.”
Hearns was a matchup nightmare for his opponents and one of the best fighters of the 1980s.
The boxer known as “Hitman” earned the respect of Leonard during their two memorable fights in Las Vegas.
And Saturday, Leonard will present Hearns during the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Caesars Palace.
“Saying he’s a guy I know is a major understatement,” Leonard said. “Tommy is an amazing fighter and champion, and we’re friends now. Thinking about him takes me back to 1981 when we fought in Vegas for the undisputed title.”
Leonard defeated Hearns on that night outside of Caesars Palace. They met again in 1989 and fought to a draw, but Leonard admitted Hearns should have won the bout.
“It’s a special feeling to have (Leonard) present me,” Hearns said. “I get to go into the Hall of Fame of Las Vegas, and one of the greatest ever gets to present me? It doesn’t get any better.
“This is a true honor. I love Las Vegas. That was my city.”
Hearns, 58, who lives in his hometown of Detroit, cherishes his Las Vegas fights, but it’s still hard for him to talk about the losses.
Hearns battled Marvin Hagler in arguably the greatest three-round bout in boxing history. The two middleweights traded haymakers for nonstop action.
“Don’t remind me,” said Hearns, who lost to Hagler in the classic eight-minute fight in 1985 in Las Vegas.
The Hitman doesn’t like to rank his fights, but he said he will never forget his knockout victory over Roberto Duran in Las Vegas in 1984.
“When I fought Roberto Duran, everything just changed for me,” Hearns said. “All of a sudden the lights came on, and they stayed on bright.”
Hearns fought in Las Vegas 17 times and won titles in four divisions.
“My thought was always to make sure the fans got their money’s worth when they saw me fight,” Hearns said. “I never wanted anybody to say Tommy Hearns gave a bad show.”
Hearns will be joined by Erik Morales, Michael Spinks, Salvador Sanchez, Michael Carbajal and Lucia Rijker in the non-Nevada boxing resident category of the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.
Ken Norton, Leon Spinks and Richie Sandoval will go in as Nevada resident boxers.
They will be joined by Rafael Garcia, Elias Ghanem, Mel Greb, Debbie Munch and Davey Pearl as nonboxer inductees.
The Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame induction ceremony is 6 p.m. Saturday at Caesars Palace. Tickets can be purchased at nvbhof.com.
Morgan joins NAC
Las Vegas native Sandra Douglass Morgan was appointed to the Nevada Athletic Commission by Gov. Brian Sandoval on Friday. She replaces Cisco Aguilar.
“Sandra Douglass Morgan is an active member of the Southern Nevada community in both her professional life and through multiple service organizations,” Sandoval said in a statement. “She has used her talents and experience to advocate for neglected children, victims of domestic violence and served as the vice president on the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Bar Association.
“She will be a fresh face on the Nevada Athletic Commission, and I am proud to announce her appointment.”
Contact Gilbert Manzano at email@example.com. Follow @GManzano24 on Twitter.
Aug. 22: Premier Boxing Champions, 6 p.m, Sam’s Town, Fox Sports 1/Fox Deportes
Aug. 26: Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor, 6 p.m., Showtime PPV, T-Mobile Arena
Sept. 15: Golden Boy on ESPN, TBD, ESPN2/ESPN Deportes, MGM Grand Garden
Sept. 16: Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, 5 p.m., HBO PPV, T-Mobile Arena