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Hearns Stops Gonzalez

Ronald HearnsBy Jim Dower: After watching #12th ranked WBA/WBC light middleweight contender Ronald Hearns (19-0, 15 KOs) struggle in defeating Jose Luis Gonzalez (12-4-1, 10 KOs) on Friday night at the Royal Watler Cruise Terminal, in Georgetown, Cayman Islands, I’m frankly shocked at how Hearns can be ranked so highly. To be sure, he got the knockout win, a 7th round TKO, which is a good thing, yet he looked completely average, lacking any kind of power or any semblance of defensive boxing skills either for that matter. Given his lack of bouts, this was only his 19th right, I just don’t see how he can be ranked as high as he is.

Perhaps I’m missing something, I guess, but I didn’t see any real ability from Hearns the other night, nothing like his famous father Tommy Hearns nor anything like what one would expect from a 12th rated light middleweight. Whatever the case, Hearns had what people refer to as soft opponent on Friday night, someone for Hearns to look good in the process of winning. That was mostly true, since he did look good at times against Gonzalez, but he also looked plain awful at other times as he got tagged far too much for me.

Gonzalez, 26, has been shown several times on ESPN, most of the time losing against C-class fighters like himself. I suppose due to those prior fights, he kind of has made a minor name for himself despite losing most of the time he’s been shown. I’m not sure why this would make him seem a good opponent for Hearns, but then again after seeing how bad Hearns looked on Friday night, I can now pretty much understand why Gonzalez was chosen as an opponent for him. If they’d had put Hearns in with a top 15 fighter, he very likely would have had his head torn off his string bean body and his top ranking would have gone down the drain with his loss.

Hearns did what he had to do in the first few rounds, using his long jab, left hooks and occasional right hands to tag Gonzalez with regularity. Hearns tends to load up on his right hand like his father used to, but instead of knocking out his opponents, he seems to be firing more with blanks, as Hearns’ power is mediocre at best. Still, he looks good when he throws even if it’s not having the same effects as his father’s big shots. Gonzalez, for his part, a tall 6’0″ light middleweight, who fights in a stand up European style, negating both his reach and his height while at the same time weakening his power because of his inability to use leverage on his shots.

His work rate is often fairly good, hitting his opponents with high volume punches but with not much power. Against Hearns, however, Gonzalez landed much less often as he was forced to pursue Hearns around the ring. Still, when he would get in punching rage, he often had few problems landing to the head of Hearns, and snapping his head back with good shots.

On those occasions, Hearns looked very plain, and it seemed like I could see his future, a future where he takes on a good fighter with power and gets knocked out in short order, and it wasn’t a promising one. Lucky for Hearns, though, Gonzalez limited his offensive attempts, rarely throwing any punches and allowing Hearns to fight mostly unmolested.

In the 4th round, Hearns gave up his height, and instead of fighting at a distance like he had in the earlier rounds, he stood in front of Gonzalez and traded big shots with him for the entire round. Hearns clearly got the better of the action, which was no surprise to me given his slightly better talent, but he also took a lot of big head shots in the round.

And, by standing in close with Gonzalez, who’s quite comfortable trading shots at close range, Hearns ended up smothering his own power in the process. Gonzalez, too, was smothering his own power by standing on the inside, but then again, he always fights like that, which I suppose, is why he’s not a better fighter than he is. Hearns would continue to stand and trade shots with Gonzalez in the 5th round, with both fighters landing well. Hearns, naturally, was a little better of the two but not by much.

In the 6th round, Hearns began fighting at distance again, using his long reach to perfection as he loaded up with straight right hands and left hooks. The right hands were a little better for him than his hooks, as he seems to have good technique with his right hand. Gonzalez seemed to have almost stopped punching by this point, looking tired and with swelling around the side of his left eye. In the 7th round, Hearns continued landing well with big shots in the first minute of the round.

After Hearns landed a particularly hard right hand that snapped Gonzalez’s head back, the fight was stopped almost immediately as Gonzalez’s corner had the fight stopped. Gonzalez was still firing back at the time, but it was obvious that he wasn’t going to win the fight and was merely absorbing punishment at the hands of Hearns.

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