DETROIT (AP) – Thomas Hearns is returning to the ring, but he has no plans to stop after just one fight.

He wants to become a champion again. The 46-year-old Hearns will fight John Long on July 30 in his first bought in five years, while his oldest son, Ronald, is on the undercard in a middleweight bout.

Though Hearns retired in 2000 after the second round of a cruiserweight fight, a comeback has been on his mind.

“I’ve known I can do it and I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” said Hearns, who won the first of his seven titles in 1980.

Though Hearns is thrilled to be fighting on the same card as his son, he said his return to the ring will not be short-lived. He hopes to vie for a light heavyweight title before the end of 2006.

“I need to get three or four fights in before that,” he said.

His last fight, a cruiserweight bout with Uriah Grant, ended when Hearns (59-5-1, 46 knockouts) quit with an injury. He has been training since May at a camp in suburban Brighton.

“There’s more conditioning now with Tommy,” said his trainer, Henry Hill. “Younger guys will shadowbox four or six rounds, but with Tommy we’ve got to do it longer to get his motor running.

“A lot of it is about conditioning now.”

Hearns, at 6-foot-3, has a pronounced height and reach advantage on the 5-foot-9 Long (19-6-1, 10 KOs). The 35-year-old St. Louis native last fought in June 2004. Thomas Hearns won Golden Gloves and Amateur Athletic Union welterweight titles in 1977 before turning professional. He won his first 28 fights before defeating Jose Cuevas on Aug. 2, 1980, to win the World Boxing Association welterweight title. His first defeat came in his 33rd fight, when he met Sugar Ray Leonard in a 1981 bout to unify the welterweight title. Leonard knocked him out in the 14th round. He lost an epic three-round bout to Marvin Hagler in 1985 in an attempt to unify the middleweight title. His last championship was the International Boxing Organization cruiserweight title, which he won in April 1999 before ceding it to Grant.

AP-ES-07-01-05 1604EDT

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