... however, few believed that the hardnosed slugger from the Bronx would get the better of The Hitman, an elite boxer-puncher and the sport's first four-division champion.
With Andy Ruiz fever in full effect during a year of upsets, we thought it would be fun to relive The Ring’s 1988 Upset of the Year — Iran Barkley’s third-round KO of Thomas Hearns — through photos from the magazine’s 97-year-old photo archive. The WBC middleweight title bout took place on June 6, 1988, at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. Enjoy these classic photos from The Ring/Getty Image archive.
Given their aggressive styles, boxing writers and hardcore fans expected an entertaining shootout…
… however, few believed that the hardnosed slugger from the Bronx would get the better of The Hitman, an elite boxer-puncher and the sport’s first four-division champion.
Although Hearns had suffered stoppage defeats to Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler (in all-time great welterweight and middleweight championship fights), it was still shocking to witness him being laid out by a good-but-flawed contender who had been clearly out-boxed over 15 rounds in his previous title shot against Sumbu Kalambay.
However, June 6, 1988, belonged to the underdog from New York, who took all of the brutal punishment Hearns dished out and lasted long enough to land his own bombs.
Look at that bloody smile. Barkley’s victory lap lasted only eight months, as he was dethroned by the great Roberto Duran in The Ring’s 1989 Fight of the Year the following February, but “The Blade” had Hearns’ number as he proved with a split-decision rematch victory at light heavyweight in 1992.