- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
TOMMY: Some folks say you're just about the best boxer in the whole world.
SUGAR RAY: Too true, my man. I'm the boss boxer. As for you, you're just a puncher.
TOMMY: But the people haven't seen me really, I mean really, box.
SUGAR RAY: Well, when we fight, I'm going to take it right to you, man.
TOMMY: You do that. And every time you come to me, I'm going to give you a little something to take back.
SUGAR RAY: Oh, really? What's that?
TOMMY: Some hurt, man. A lot of pain, man.
—One of Tommy Hearns' imaginary dialogues with Sugar Ray Leonard, a sort of daydream while sparring.
The dreams have always been there, wonderful and elaborate, great curlicued structures of the mind that he built all alone, without any help from friends and certainly not from schoolteachers. Sometimes they were wryly funny dreams, but that was before he learned to control his puckish streak. After that they became more and more violent—as in let's pretend you're flat on your face. When you do this right, as Tommy Hearns has done, you emerge as a stony-faced grown-up, watching the world through hooded eyes so nobody knows what you're thinking.
One thing's for sure: Emanuel Steward, Hearns' manager and trainer, knows what his fighter is not thinking. "First time I saw this kid was in 1970," Steward says. "He was just 11 years old and he'd already been fighting for a year then. He was so scrawny it was awful; he weighed 55 pounds and his little old boxing pants were falling right off. I'd never seen anybody, ever, who had no fear of nobody. But Tommy didn't then, and he don't now."