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 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 WBU Cruiserweight (200-lb.) title belt awarded to Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns following his 1st round knockout victory over Lenny LaPaglia on March 31, 1995 at the Joe Louis Arena in his hometown of Detroit. It was the first title in that weight class ever issued by the WBU, the Germany-based sanctioning body founded in 1995. (The WBU had strong run of international success through 2006, awarding titles to legends such as George Foreman, Tommy Hearns, Mickey Ward and Ricky Hatton during that span. In 2009, the WBU ceased operations.) Hearns vacated his WBU title shortly thereafter to pursue the Cruiserweight title in the IBO, which he did four years later. The black genuine leather belt measures 50" long and the WBU-branded shiny gold oval centerpiece buckle is 9" in diameter. Altogether, the belt weighs a bulky 9.6 lbs. All eight of the faux red gemstones are present. There are two 5" gold-mirrored plates on either side of the centerpiece buckle. "THOMAS HEARNS" adorns the left plate and "WON TITLE VIA 1st RD. K.O. OVER LENNY LaPAGLIA MAR. 31st, AT JOE LOUIS ARENA DETROIT, MI." 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 reverse of the belt has Velcro for fastening and a sheepskin-like padding for comfort. (See photo of 1996 WBU Lightweight title belt won by George Scott of Sweden for a mid-late 1990s example of a WBU belt.) Overall, it is in pristine condition and comes essentially as-issued and problem-free from Tommy Hearns' personal collection.
Includes a Letter of Authenticity from Tommy "The Hitman" Hearns.
Thomas Hearns/Lenny Lapaglia March, 1995