And so here he is, at last, Hearns in maturity at 22, 6'2½", 147 pounds, his body all whipcorded and heavy-braided. He will never again be quite as untouched as you see him at this moment, because he's at that transitory stage in life in which dreams are still undented and intact. Hearns has been fighting most of his life: he went 155-8 as an amateur, developing his hard, flicking left jab and a devastating right; since turning pro in 1977, he has had a 30-0 record, with 28 knockouts. Last Aug. 2 he became Thomas Hearns, the WBA welterweight champ, by savagely cooling Jose (Pipino) Cuevas in two rounds and setting off the celebration pictured on pages 94-95. Now he finally will get to fight the elusive Sugar Ray Leonard, who holds the other 50% of the welter title, the WBC half. "I was afraid, man. I was afraid we were going to end up fighting in the lobby of some old folks home," Hearns says. But, with the championship bout just about set for sometime this autumn and a payday of $5 million to $8 million in prospect, it's a good time in his life.
Hearns expects to unify the title, as he puts it—but not too quickly. He wants to luxuriate in stretching the fight out over several violent and possibly bloody rounds to make Leonard suffer for being so insolent. He wants to clear up that business about who is going to give the boxing lesson. That accomplished, he intends to move up to take on Marvin Hagler and become Thomas Hearns, middleweight champion; and then, gaining in poundage and prestige as he goes, the world light-heavyweight champion and, umm—here he goes heavy-lidded and speaks with careful emphasis—"then maybe even the croooooser weight. Nobody has ever done that before."
The goals are set. Hearns' character is now established, but he's still working, and has a long way to go, on his personality. He's almost—well, it's about this close—at the stage where he can give a little more rein to that puckish streak. He strikes a proprietary pose, sitting on a polished fender of his new Rolls-Royce, for the picture on page 105. This is his idea of the suburban Detroit gentleman at his leisure. Those hooded eyes look out calmly, but at first there's a problem. It's that Tommy looks too sinister.
The photographer turns to Rick Evans, a bodyguard and friend of Hearns. "Do something to make him smile," he pleads. "Get him to say 'cheese' or something."
Evans shrugs grandly. "You want to see Thomas smile, man? I'll make him smile."
But Hearns locks his jawline, tightens the look on his face and narrows his eyes a bit more. No way, folks. This is a mean snapshot; people are going to see this picture and know that it's the portrait of one bad dude.
Then Evans leans over and croons in the champ's ear, "Don't say cheese, man. Just say body shot."
And that does it. The eyes light up and a smile creases that baleful countenance.
These are indeed the times he dreamed about and always knew would come, even when the only one who believed in him was Steward. His life and his career so far have fallen into place, almost like the pieces of a puzzle. Fit them together and you get Tommy Hearns.
MAMA AND EMANUEL AND JACKIE