RingTV.com caught up to middleweight Ronald Hearns, whose shot at WBC titleholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was called off after Chavez pulled out of the fight last week as a result of an injury to his right hand.
The 32-year-old Hearns (26-2, 20 knockouts) was to meet the 25-year-old Chavez Jr. (43-0-1, 30 KOs) in Chavez’s home town of Culiacan, Mex., on Sept. 17.
Hearns was looking to rebound from a failed bid to dethrone Germany’s WBA beltholder Felix Sturm (36-2-1, 15 KOs), who stopped Hearns in the seventh round in February.
A man whose five-fight winning streak with three knockouts was ended by Sturm, Hearns did not begin his boxing career until he was 24.
Meanwhile, Hearns’ father, Thomas, already was a beltholder by the time he was 21, having dethroned Pipino Cuevas for the WBA welterweight title by second-round stoppage in August of 1980.
Below is a Q&A with Ronald Hearns, his first interview since the cancellation of the Chavez bout.
RingTV.com: What are your thoughts on the cancellation of the fight?
Ronald Hearns: I’m very disappointed. I was very excited for the fight. A lot of people don’t know that in the Sturm fight, I broke my hand in the second round.
I didn’t put that out there because I feel like you’re a warrior inside of the ring, but things happen. And when they do, you just have to finish the fight the best way that you can.
That’s what I was trying to do. So a lot of people were sort of down-talking me, which is why I was really hoping that I could get this fight with Chavez so that I could show the world what I really can do.
RingTV.com: How did you break your hand?
RH: I broke it throwing a left hook when Sturm was trying to duck. I caught him right at the bottom part of my hand, where your fingers bend right at the knuckles. So I broke those.
My last few rounds, my bones were trying to come through the skin, so I really couldn’t make a good, solid fist inside of my gloves.
So my hands were popping in and out of joint whenever I went to block a punch. I had to have surgery and everything on it. I had surgery maybe three days after the fight. I was out of training for at least four months.
RingTV.com: What sort of shape were you in for Chavez?
RH: I was in great shape because I was back in the gym training hard and running and all of that sort of stuff. I had gotten my hand back strong, so I was ready. I was getting my boxing skills back, so I was feeling good.
I was kind of shocked and surprised that I got the call from them to fight Chavez. I was like, ‘Wow.’ Because I figured that I would have a tuneup fight before I got another title shot.
But I knew that everybody was trying to count me out, so I had something to prove.
RingTV.com: What sort of strategy were you going to employ against Chavez?
RH: As far as his style, you know, Chavez likes to work the body and keep the pressure on you. So I was going to keep him at bay and hit him with a lot of surprise shots.
I don’t want to give out too much of my strategy because maybe one of these days I’ll get a chance to fight him again. I know that he has a fight against Peter Manfredo in November.
But maybe I could be on the under card of that fight and get a fight with the winner. I think that I’m going to try to push my manager, Al Haymon, to try to work that out or something like that. That’s what I’m hoping for.
RingTV.com: I understand that your promoter Lou DiBella has expressed that he is trying to replace the Chavez fight with a stay-busy tuneup?
RH: Right, yeah, that would be good, you know — to try to get back in there really quick maybe at the end of September or early October.
RingTV.com: What would you say to Chavez if you and he were face-to-face in a room alone?
RH: You know, I’m a man of honor, so if he says that he’s hurt, then I’m going to take your word for it. Only God knows if he’s truly hurt or not. I heard a lot of rumors that he was overweight.
I know he looked extremely big when we had our press conference when I was over there for that day. I thought that he looked like he was around 180 or 185, so maybe his weight was a problem.
But I can’t say whether it was or not. So there are a lot of things. But you know, sometimes, I can be injured and I still go after the fight. But that’s just the type of person that I am.
If I’m hurt, I’m going into the fight because I’ve put in so much hard work. But maybe that’s a bad thing to do and maybe he’s doing the right thing.
RingTV.com: What will you do until you know what’s next?
RH: Well, I am in tremendous shape. Before you called, I was out doing another run this morning. I’m staying in shape and I’m not going to let this stop me. Because I have a goal in mind as to what I want to accomplish in my career.
I want to continue to follow in my daddy’s footsteps, but I don’t want to continue to be in his shadow. I want to be my own man. I didn’t start boxing until I was 24 years old.
It’s not like I put on my gloves when I was little because my father wouldn’t allow that. He pushed me out of the gym. So at the age of 24, that’s when I picked up a pair of gloves and started fighting.
With where I’m at today, it’s unheard of in the boxing world. I’m extremely happy with how my career is going, and I’m looking forward to the future.
Lem Satterfield can be reached at [email protected]