The Kings, Showtime's new boxing documentary series about Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler and Roberto Duran, debuts this Sunday, June 6, on Showtime. We reviewed the excellent sports doc here, and Tim Ryan and Barry Tompkins shared some thoughts about the Four Kings with The Big Lead.
Tompkins and Ryan were lucky enough to cover some of these fights in person and both worked ringside with Leonard. Tompkins worked alongside Leonard and Larry Merchant on HBO Boxing. He has also done play-by-play for boxing on ESPN and FOX Sports. Ryan called fights with Leonard on CBS and also called Leonard's fights against Hagler and Hearns.
Here's what they told us about Duran, Hagler, Hearns and Leonard.
Roberto “Manos de Piedra” Durán
Cocky, relentless, aggressive for all three minutes of every round. When in shape mid-career, there was no other boxer at the same weight who punched harder. Never backed up and was mentally tough -- until the “No más” loss to Leonard. It was remarkable that he made such a strong comeback after that -- at least until boozing got the best of his boxing. - TR
A flat-out assassin at the lower weights. Didn’t just want to beat you – he wanted to destroy you. If looks could kill – his did. Like Ray Leonard, he mellowed with age. Machismo both carried him a long way and resulted in his most devastating loss. He was a stalker and, like the other three, if he hurt you – it was over. Unlike the other two, he and Ray Leonard now have a very close friendship. - BT
Thomas “The Hitman” Hearns
A shy, pleasant guy outside the ring, he was a tremendous puncher inside the ring. He used his height and reach effectively and his right hand power might be one of boxing’s greatest pound-for-pound. He was a great competitor in a quiet way, and his willingness to take punches to hang-in with counters has no doubt taken its toll in his post-boxing life. Never did TV commentary. - TR
Great welterweight, ordinary middleweight. Outstanding skills as both a boxer and a puncher. Not a student of the game like the other three. Because of his length and outstanding jab, was virtually unbeatable at 147 pounds. I honestly believe he wasn’t sure he could beat Hagler and always have thought he merely decided to just go for it in the first round and go out on a shield. But he was a big part of the greatest round of boxing I’ve ever seen. - BT
"Marvelous" Marvin Hagler
May he rest in peace -- it never came in the ring. Gave solid performances in every fight -- always in shape -- best at middleweight. Clever counter-puncher with good, punishing power. Worked the body better than most. Wore opponents down, rather than looking for the one big knockout shot. Intelligent, thoughtful, quiet guy outside of the ring. Served as a guest analyst a couple of times with me and Gil Clancy -- made good comments, but in his own quiet way. - TR
The yin to Ray Leonard’s yang. Blue collar guy who I believe will never get his just due as one of the greatest middleweights ever, because of the fight with Ray Leonard. Beat everyone there was to beat in his era (with the one notable exception). Loyal to the Petronellis, maybe even to a fault. A truly terrific human being who had some chops as a color analyst as well. - BT
"Sugar" Ray Leonard
King of the Kings, he had all of the qualities of a fighter that the other three had: cockiness of Duran, workmanlike clever style of Hagler, punching power (almost) of Hearns and the personality of all three, a showboat but pleasantly so. He served as guest commentator on several fights with Gil and me at CBS and brought his glamor to the cameras. We have stayed in touch over the years. - TR
I worked with Ray for ten years. Like a younger brother to me. Great student of the game. A killer instinct that belies the Bambi looks. Great finisher. Survived some tough times and came out the other side a better person. I believe he at least belongs in the conversation of the greatest ever at any weight. - BT
THE KINGS, a four-part documentary series, premieres on Sunday, June 6, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on SHOWTIME with new episodes to follow every Sunday. All four episodes will be available on all Showtime On Demand platforms on the day of premiere.