October 16th, 2012 By Pedro Fernandez
VEGAS HILTON FIGHT HAD ALL THE BIG NAMES COVERING IT
San Francisco, CA- It was June 1988, we, and when I say we I mean the boxing media descended upon Las Vegas for Tommy “Hitman” Hearns‘ defense of the WBC middleweight (160 lbs) title against Iran “The Blade” Barkley. Jack Fiske, Pat Putnam, Wally Matthews, Mike Marley, the allure of Hearns brought out all the “big time” fight writers. Mike Katz, Royce Feour, I can go on and on as the press was in the house.
HEARNS WAS AN OFFENSIVE GENIUS
With two-round KOs of Pipino Cuevas in 1980, Roberto Duran in 1984, I think the first Hearns-Ray Leonard (1981) fight we would have seen a different outcome had Tommy went out and NOT tried to “out box” Ray Leonard. Instead of being the “Hitman,” Tommy was building up points until he got cracked with a punch in the rib cage around round six that hurt him. Although neither Emanuel Steward or Tommy Hearns had ever copped to a cracked rib, that was the point when Ray first took “the play” away Hearns in the fight.
INCREDIBLE BODY SHOTS THAT I FELT 8 ROWS AWAY!
I’m sure you know the story, Hearns would resume control, Leonard’s eye was all but closed, Dundee screams, “You’re blowing it son” and he goes out and stops Hearns in round 14. Back to the subject really at at hand, the June 1988 fight at the Las Vegas Hilton on HBO between Hearns and Barkley. Let me put their fight into perspective for you, the beating Hearns put on Iran had him reacting, especially to the body shots, out loud! Tommy was planting his feet in the canvas and went on a nuclear offensive.
ONE RIGHT HAND COUNTER & “NIGHT-NIGHT”
Look, Iran was a guy that feared by some, avoided by many, but when Barkley landed a right hand in the third round on Tommy’s chin it took the fight right out of him. Down he went and for all intents and purposes, Tommy Hearns as he was in the Marvin Hagler fight, looked like he had fallen out of an airplane and survived! It was at that post fight press conference after I introduced myself he told me those words, “Although my name is Iran, I never did.”
DURAN DECISION OVER IRAN “WAS OFF” SAID “TOP CAT”
Michael Trainer, Atty. at law and the man who set Ray Leonard up financially told me after the late February 1989 fight between Barkley and Robert, a Split Decision 12 (118-112 & 116-112 Duran, Barkley 116-112) in “Sin City East” AKA Atlantic City, NJ, Trainer whose name in the Leonard camp was “Top Cat” told me, “They gave it to him (Duran). Barkley won more rounds.”
HEARNS & “I NEVER RAN” CLASH AGAIN!
Tommy Hearns would snag the WBA 175 lb. laurels by upsetting Virgil Hill at the Inglewood Forum in June 1991. The following March, on a cold Las Vegas night, Barkley and Hearns had a rematch with Iran getting a Split Decision 12 (115-113-114-113 Barkley, 114-113 Hearns). Iran had Tommy’s number, and I would have never fought “The Blade” again. Before beating Hearns again, Iran would triumph at 168 with his destruction of champion Darrin Van Horn (there’s a guy with a story whose father is an admitted pimp) but not James Toney at another juncture of Toney’s career. He fought anybody put in front of him, that was Iran.
HISTORIANS DON’T GIVE HIM MUCH CREDIT!
Barkley is an underrated fight historically as he beat Hall of Famer Tommy Hearns, once brutally, the other, still convincing, went 12 rounds. Outside of being dropped by a four-punch Roberto Duran, I don’t remember Iran being down. The “biggest” middleweight I’ve ever seen, Iran is a guy that probably merits introduction to the International Boxing Hall of Fame and the like. He once knocked out ex-WBA heavyweight titleholder Gerrie Coetzee, that in 1997. Today, because of bad investments, like a car wash in Harlem, Barkley has no real money. The fact that he beat Tommy twice should allow this puncher in as he won legit titles at 160, 18 & 175! Iran Barkley is on Facebook.com