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Well, it's certainly not the glass jaw he's made out to have, but it was his one weakness along with his stamina issues over fifteen rounds. Twelve wasn't so bad for him unless it was a brutal war, but he still lasted fine.
Nonetheless, his chin was much better than people think. He fought a lot of big punchers over a huge among of weight and was only really stopped twice because of his chin and both were shots that would have taken out most anyway.
It's often the case though; Lewis was knocked out twice and is considered to have a glass jaw and yet the shots that did him in would have taken out any other fighter in the division without fail. Huge, perfect flush shots. Just like the ones Hearns got hit with.
He really did have the good s to be the best ever with better stamina and chin. As it stands he still gets underrated for what he did.
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Go ask this same question in NSB and you will be told that Hearns is a glass chin bum by 30 different people in a matter of an hour.
But getting back to what you said.... In the case of Hearns and other great fighters I think people naturally have to find a "weakness" in a fighter and often times it is only considered a weakness because of the greatness of the rest of the skillset.
When it's all said and done though the beauty of Thomas Hearns, and one of the main reasons he is my favorite fighter, is because he didn't give a damn about his weaknesses. Hearns came out and put the pedal to the metal and gave fans an awesome show of offensive firepower in most every fight he had.
The first Barkley fight was a great example. He had Barkley dead in the water, all he had to do was go conservative and keep putting the occasional right hand on Barkley and the Doc would have had to step in by the 8th round.
Instead he was out there diggin for vicious body shots and uncorking brutal combinations trying to close the show in grand fashion. It cost him the fight, but that mentality is exactly why so many people love him to this day.
The guy truly loved to fight. I took this picture of him at a Kronk dinner benefit a couple years ago. Even at 50 years old the guy was dying to un holster a big right hand. As this picture was taken he was busy telling Hilmer Kenty and Milton McCrory that he was ready to strap on the headgear and do a little sparring the following day.
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I think it is a little under-rated, yes. The glass jaw tag has been around a long while, & it really isn't fair. However...
I still consider it one of his more noteworthy flaws. There are some who will say Hearns' chin was actually on-par with your average world-class fighter --- I don't agree with that. To me, his whiskers weren't as bad as often made out, but they were below-average. Hagler virtually never put anyone to sleep the way he did Hearns. Leonard rocked him quite badly in their two fights, & he exhibited the ability to do so very quickly, without a lasting barrage, or a perfect punch. At neither weight where those fights took place was Leonard considered anything more than an average hitter.
As far as the fact he was only stopped four times, there is a very big part in that stat played by Hearns' reach, boxing prowess, & smashing power. A lot of his more dangerous rivals (a lot of his rivals period, for that matter) were unwilling to risk really pressing home their own punch because of Hearns' brutal KO shots, or they were unable to do so on account of Hearns' unusual height & range, or a combination of both. That kept him safe many times, not his chin taking copious punishment & passing all tests. Some of this is true, to an extent, with Lennox Lewis --- another fighter whose chin is somewhat under-rated, but which was still a clear short-coming, for mine.
Below-average? Yes. Glass, & as bad as its rep? No.
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