Ronald Hearns loves March and all the madness that goes with it. The son of legendary eight-time world champion Thomas “Hit Man” Hearns, Ronald earned his college degree in criminal justice from American University in Washington D.C. While in college, Hearns played for the basketball team. This year American University’s basketball team won the Patriot League and advanced to the exclusive tournament field of 64 for the 2009 NCAA® Division I Men’s Basketball Championship for the first time. But this Saturday night, Hearns will be nowhere near a court; rather, he’ll be in the ring when he faces fellow unbeaten junior middleweight Harry Joe Yorgey in a 10-round bout on a special Saturday edition of ShoBox: The New Generation live on SHOWTIME (11 p.m. ET/PT, delayed on the west coast).
Detroit’s Hearns (21-0, 17 KOs) and Yorgey (21-0-1, 9 KOs), of Bridgeport, Pa., will open the ShoBox telecast from the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami, Okla. World-class super middleweight Andre Dirrell (17-0, 12 KOs), of Flint, Mich., will meet Derrick Findley (13-2, 8 KO’s) of Gary, Ind., in the ShoBox main event. The event is promoted by Gary Shaw Productions, LLC, and DiBella Entertainment.
SHOWTIME: You played collegiate basketball at American University. Did you follow its run in the NCAA tournament?
RONALD HEARNS: “Oh, man, yeah, I love March Madness®. I don’t know many of the players, but I got an email from the coach. My bracket is going OK. I like Pittsburgh. I like Connecticut and l like Louisville.
SHOWTIME: You turned professional after obtaining your college degree. Did you always think you would be a professional fighter?
RONALD HEARNS: “Boxing was always my first love. I always wanted to box since I was about 10 or 11 years old but my dad never allowed me to fight at that time so every time I tried to sneak into the gym the guys would catch me and ban me from the gym. My dad told me once I got my college degree that I could box so I went and did that. He knew I’d be a grown man then and could make my own decision. So the day I came home from graduation I told him I wanted to go to the gym and that’s when I started training.
“It’s something that’s just in me. I love boxing so much. Every time I put a tape in and watch a fight, I just want to get up and start punching somebody. It doesn’t matter if it’s my dad I’m watching or someone else, I just love watching boxing. You could say I’m a real student of the game.”
SHOWTIME: You haven’t fought since last appearing on SHOWTIME in October when you beat Paul Clavette. Has the layoff affected you and your training?
RONALD HEARNS: “It’s been kind of hard because I was scheduled to fight in January but that fight was called off. But I always stay in the gym no matter what. I’m always in there training. I’m a real gym rat. Harry’s a great fighter. He’s a real good boxer and can be flashy at times. You know when you get two undefeated fighters in the ring at the same time that someone’s ‘O’ has got to go. We’re putting it all on the line and hope to put on a great show for the people.”
SHOWTIME: Has it been difficult being the son of Thomas Hearns?
RONALD HEARNS: “Yeah, in a way it’s been tough because the expectations have been set so high. With the things he accomplished the bar is set pretty high. I turned pro so late (age 25) and have really had to learn on the job. People don’t know that I was never really around boxing that much as a kid. I was never in the gym training and really learning how to box. Things are just starting to fall in place right now. But I think I don’t really have all the wear and tear on my body from my limited amateur experience so right now I don’t think that age (Hearns recently turned 30) really matters.”
SHOWTIME: What are some of your earliest memories of your father and boxing?
RONALD HEARNS: I think just watching early tapes of my dad’s fights. The Pipino Cuevas fight (for the WBA welterweight championship in 1980), the (Juan Domingo) Roldan fight (for the WBC middleweight championship in 1987), the first and second (Sugar Ray) Leonard fights and the (Marvin) Hagler fight. There were just so many memorable moments. Just sitting back and putting the tapes in. I just never get sick of watching them. He’ll be leading me into the ring on Saturday. He always lets me know he’s there for me and that I can give him a call anytime I need something. He’s been there and there’s nothing he hasn’t seen inside the ring.”
SHOWTIME: What kind of style will we see from you early on Saturday night?
RONALD HEARNS: “Well, Harry Joe is a front-runner. He always starts pretty quick. I’m going to go out there and try to slow him down early. I’m just going to work off my jab and once I get my jab going everything else will fall into place. I’m ready to go out there and perform and show the people how I’ve progressed and how I’m trying now to make a name for myself. I believe this fight will prove to people that I can do some special things in boxing.”