On June 15, 1984, Thomas “Hitman” Hearns knocked out fellow future Hall of Fame inductee and former four-division world champion Roberto Duran in the second round to retain his WBC and The Ring junior middleweight championships.
An era coined for its “Four Kings” — Hearns, Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Marvelous Marvin Hagler — the former two were called to battle and rose to the occasion.
Duran kicked off this iconic era with a masterful victory over Leonard, forcing him to fight his style of fight. With a record of 72-1 following, Duran would drop four of his next nine fights leading up to his showdown against Hearns, including losses to Leonard, Wilfred Benitez, and Hagler.
Hearns had lost to Leonard in 1981 for the WBC and The Ring welterweight titles and relinquished his WBA belt. Moving up to 154 lbs saw him secure successive victories against Benitez and Murray Sutherland to capture his crowns.
At Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Hearns showed again how styles make fights, as he rendered the legendary power and pugilism of Duran obsolete.
Duran found little success in matching Hearns, as the latter used his tremendous 11-inch reach advantage to pepper Duran with impactful shots.
Duran mocked Hearns’ four-punch combination that got the crowd on its feet in the first round and encouraged the “Hitman” to come on stronger. He would do just that, throwing off Duran’s equilibrium and securing a knockdown that would foreshadow things to come.
Before the fight could even break open, Hearns was able to get Duran on the ropes at the left side of the ring and finished him with an immortalized right hand that closed the show.
Both pantheon great fighters would take turns facing the elites of their divisions, also synchronously moving up in weight in what shaped up to be one of the most storied decades of the sports history.