Thomas Hearns, possibly stung by taunts that he was spent as a fighter, became a world champion for the sixth time Monday night. The "Hit Man" from Detroit won an unanimous 12-round decision over Virgil Hill and took the World Boxing Association light-heavyweight championship outdoors at Caesars Palace.
"Shot," Hearns said about the taunts before the fight. "See me Monday night, June 3 and you'll see."
The 32-year-old Hearns mixed boxing ability with power punching and threw in a good dose of heart in upsetting his 27-year-old, previously unbeaten opponent.
Hearns fought on wobbly legs in the last few rounds, but he kept punching and controlled the fight in those crucial rounds.
Hill, sometimes irritated before the fight because he felt Hearns was being treated like the champion, said, "This is not the Thomas Hearns Show."
It was, however.
The match was a beautiful exhibition of boxing. Both men feinted with their shoulders, their heads, their arms. They tried to make one another counter and they jabbed and jabbed.
Hearns had the power, however, and that made the difference.
In the sixth round, Hearns, who had looked like his name was Sugar Ray in the first five stanzas, really became the Hit Man. He hit Hill with a right to the body and then a right to the head at 2:28 of the round. He hurt him with a body shot and then landed two rights and a jarring left hook.
On the undercard Monday night, former world heavyweight champion Tony Tucker overcame a broken right hand to score a 12-round split decision over Orlin Norris.