AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Thomas Hearns has faced a lot of obstacles in nearly 30 years as a professional boxer, but none like this: fighting while facing a charge that he struck his own child.
Hearns, who was arrested New Year's Day and is accused of hitting his 13-year-old son during an argument, will meet Shannon Landberg in a Feb. 4 bout at the Palace.
"I've had distractions before, including when my father died
while I was training for a fight in 1989," Hearns said Friday.
"But this is greater than all of them because I'm a father first
and a fighter second. My family always must come first."
The 47-year-old boxer is due back in court this month. If
convicted of misdemeanor assault and battery, he faces up to about
three months in jail and a $500 fine.
Hearns said he considered postponing the fight until after the
legal issues were settled.
"This is going to be what it is," he said. "I don't think
waiting will change many minds about me. I think people have
already decided to think what they will think."
Another of Hearns' sons, Ronald, will also fight on the card.
The 27-year-old son said he fully supports his father.
"We are best friends, and I've been with him all the way
through this trauma," he said. "He's focused, and he's going to
be fine when it is time to fight."
The elder Hearns had memorable fights with Sugar Ray Leonard,
Roberto Duran and Marvin Hagler. Between 1980 and 1999 he held WBA,
WBC, WBU and IBO titles ranging from the welterweight to
Hearns (60-5-1) has fought only once in the last six years,
knocking out John Long at Cobo Arena last July. Landberg (58-10-3)
also has been inactive. The 40-year-old boxer's last fight was in
November 2003, and he has faced only one well-known opponent,
losing to Markus Beyer in 2001.
Thomas Hearns didn't seem worried about Landberg's resume.
"Who is he?" he asked. "I don't care much about him. I know
Ronald Hearns (7-0) will face 33-year-old journeyman Kirk
Douglas (10-10), who has lost his last five bouts and has never
beaten a fighter with a winning record.
"I've been off for five months, and it is time to get things
going," Ronald Hearns said. "I want to fight twice a month in
2006. I know I'll never accomplish all of the things my dad has,
but I want to accomplish everything I can."