Lot # 826: TOMMY "THE HITMAN" HEARNS' WBO SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT CHAMPION BELT (HEARNS LOA)

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Item was in Auction "Summer Premier Auction 2014",
which ran from 8/6/2014 5:00 PM to
8/24/2014 8:00 AM



International Boxing Hall of Famer Thomas Hearns, originally nicknamed the "Motor City Cobra" and more famously "The Hitman", became the first boxer in history to win five world titles in five different divisions. When all the fists were done flying, Hearns had won eight world titles in six different weight classes. Simply put, he had staying power and an assortment of devastating combinations that he delivered to opponents early and often.

Born in Memphis, Tennessee, Hearns grew up in Detroit, Michigan. As an amateur, he compiled a 155-8 record, and once he turned pro in 1977 ran off a string of 17 straight wins, all by knockout. On August 2, 1980, Hearns finally got his shot against reigning WBA Welterweight Champion Jose "Pipino" Cuevas. Carrying a 28-0 record into the ring, Hearns stopped Cuevas in the second round by TKO. In 1981, Hearns, the undefeated WBA Champion at 32-0, fought at Caesars Palace on Sept. 16 against current WBC Champion Sugar Ray Leonard. In a bout touted as "The Showdown" that would unify the World Welterweight Championship, the two collided head on, punch after punch, until Leonard prevailed by TKO in the 14th round. This marked the Hitman's first professional defeat, but "The Showdown" was voted "Fight of the Year" by Ring Magazine.

A year later, Hearns moved up in weight and won the WBC Light Middleweight/Super Welterweight title (154 pounds) by defeating three-time world champion Wilfred Benitez by way of majority decision. He successfully defended the title four times including a second-round KO of Roberto Duran on June 15, 1984, and won his second "Fighter of the Year" award from Ring Magazine. In 1985, while still the Light Middleweight champion, Hearns ventured into the Middleweight division to challenge undisputed champion Marvin Hagler. Billed as "The War", this super bout took place at Caesars Palace on April 15. In what has often been referred to as the "three greatest rounds in boxing history," Hearns was able to stun Hagler soon after the opening bell but subsequently broke his own right hand in the first round. Less than two rounds later, Hagler had knocked Hearns down. Although he managed to beat the count, Hearns was clearly unable to continue and the referee stopped the fight.

Although he boxed much less frequently from the late 1980s on, Hearns kept racking up titles including the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Super Middleweight title in 1988, the WBA Light Heavyweight crown in 1991, the World Boxing Union (WBU) Cruiserweight title in 1995 and finally the International Boxing Organization (IBO) Cruiserweight belt in 1999. In the end, Hearns had an overall record of 61-5-1. He won 48 of his bouts by knockout.

Featured here is the official WBO Super Middleweight title belt awarded to Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns following his 12-round unanimous decision victory over James Kinchen on November 4, 1988 at the Hilton in Las Vegas. It was the first title ever awarded by the WBO, which was founded in 1988 and is recognized as one of the top four divisions in boxing today (along with the WBA, WBC and IBF). Hearns retained the WBO Super Middleweight (168-lb.) title after fighting to a draw in his epic rematch with Sugar Ray Leonard on June 6, 1989 at Caesars Palace. Hearns knocked Leonard to the canvas twice during the bloody 12-round battle. Leonard has stated openly that despite the ruling of a draw in Leonard-Hearns II, he believes Hearns should have been awarded the decision and to this day considers himself 1-1 against The Hitman. Hearns then defeated Canadian Michael Olajide on April 28, 1990 to defend his WBO Super Middleweight title, only to vacate it soon after in pursuit of a new reign. He moved up a weight class in title pursuit of the WBA Light Heavyweight division, which he would win a year later.

The beautiful brown genuine leather belt measures 40" long, and the WBO-branded shiny gold oval buckle is 9" in diameter not including the eagle section on top lined with faux red gemstones (missing five). The buckle has no tarnishing whatsoever. Altogether, it weighs 6.6 lbs. There are two 4" gold-mirrored plates on either side of the buckle. "THOMAS HEARNS" adorns the left plate and "NOV.4 88-LAS VEGAS, NEVADA WON TITLE VIA 12RD DECISION OVER JAMES KINCHEN" adorns the right one. It is very rare to find personalized and notated title belts like this. The boxer must request the organization to do it, which in this case Hearns has. The back of the belt has Velcro for fastening and white padding for comfort. Aside from a few missing faux red stones on the eagle section of the center buckle and slight separation from the glued padding on the back (likely from celebratory wear), the belt comes largely as-issued from Tommy Hearns' personal collection.

Includes a Letter of Authenticity from Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns.

Leonard vs. Hearns II: Fight of the Year 1989 Highlight